V. Hale Starr
76MA ,79PhD

Achievement 1999

V. Hale Starr

V. Hale Starr, 76MA, 79PhD, is a pioneer in the field of litigation services. Owner and president of Starr Litigation Services, Inc., a communications and media research firm in West Des Moines, and a founding member of the American Society of Trial Consultants, she has been a key player in developing a field that has become an important element of the American judicial system.

Starr has helped thousands of people receive fair trials. Through studies conducted by her firm, she has provided trial attorneys with invaluable information about interpersonal communication and community attitudes. Her research has helped champion changes of venue and out-of-court settlements, legal actions that help reduce costs and curtail undue negative publicity.

Starr Litigation Services is one of the largest and most successful firms of its kind in the world. Starr launched the company shortly after she completed her doctorate degree and became intrigued with communication issues involved in American courts of law. Using theory and research skills acquired from her communications studies at the University of Iowa, she began by helping trial lawyers select jurors in a more systematic way. Before long, Starr began conducting community studies to determine whether litigants could receive fair trials in their communities. In recent years, she has advised attorneys on every aspect of their communication with jurors and judges. Through this process, she has helped make the practice of law a more sophisticated and fair enterprise, one where the role of chance or random factors is minimized.

Not only has Starr played an important role in developing the new profession of trial consulting, she has helped many Iowa graduates get their start in this and related professions. Almost from the beginning of Starr Litigation Services, Starr has welcomed Iowa alumni to her firm. She has provided postdoctoral training and helped many go on to positions in public opinion research and political consulting.

Starr has also helped advance the education of many University of Iowa students. Most notably, she has endowed an undergraduate research assistantship as a memorial to her son. The C. Jay Starr Memorial Scholarship in Communication Studies provides the opportunity for an undergraduate to experience working closely with a faculty member as co-researcher. One stricture is that scholarship recipients cannot list their research work on their resumes until the research is published. In this way, Starr helps students understand that research is a public enterprise and must be communicated in some permanent form to prove beneficial.

Starr has accepted that same responsibility. With former Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark McCormick, she co-authored Jury Selection and she has written a second book, Witness Preparation, as well as numerous articles in law, communication, and other journals. She has also lectured and conducted workshops and seminars all over the world.

With a long record of interest in women's rights, history, and politics, Starr supports the university's Iowa Women's Archives with her endowment of a research fellowship that provides support to talented students who are interested in gaining experience in women's history and archival research.

Starr has supported the university in other ways as well. She served on the Des Moines Regional Committee for the university's Iowa Endowment 2000 campaign, and she returns periodically to Iowa City to lecture and contributes funds to a variety of campus projects.

Starr is a member of the UI Alumni Association's Old Capitol Club and a member of the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.