Cavanaugh helps prosecute cases in Webster County

Newest assistant county attorney became a lawyer through ‘process of elimination’

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Bailey Cavanaugh, assistant Webster County attorney, looks over some paperwork in her office at the Webster County attorney’s office. Cavanaugh is the newest member of the county attorney’s office, having started July 9.

Bailey Cavanaugh, the newest assistant Webster County attorney, decided to go into the legal profession via an interesting way.

Process of elimination.

Cavanaugh, who was hired July 9, wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to do after she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Iowa State University in Ames, but she knew she had to go to graduate school.

“I did not want to be a social worker and I did not want to go to med school,” she said. “Through process of elimination, I decided to go to law school.”

After graduating with a law degree from Drake University in Des Moines, Cavanaugh was hired as an attorney by a law firm in Algona, where she worked with three other attorneys.

“They did a lot of transactional work, they did estate planning, family law, a lot of farm leases, probate,” she said. “And I was also on the court-appointed list for juvenile work in Kossuth County and other counties. But they didn’t do any criminal law.”

While she didn’t handle criminal law in Algona, Cavanaugh said juvenile work brought her into the courtroom, and she discovered that she really enjoyed that.

“I didn’t like sitting in my office,” she said. “I was not actively looking for a job. This kind of just popped up and I thought I would apply.”

Coming to Webster County is also a bit of a homecoming for Cavanaugh and her family. She’s originally from Gilmore City, her fiance is from Callender, and her fiance’s son lives in Eagle Grove.

“I wanted to come back here so we could all be closer,” she said. “And then all of our families are still here.”

Cavanaugh’s main responsibilities at the county attorney’s office are handling matters in Webster County Magistrate Court.

“I do morning court every day, and then I also do all the simples (misdemeanors), so I get to do Magistrate Court Wednesday and Friday afternoons,” she said. “Now I just started getting some indictables; some OWIs (operating while under the influence), some aggravated and serious misdemeanors.”

While she doesn’t really have any goals she’d like to accomplish in her new job, Cavanaugh said she wants to “just learn as much as I can and absorb as much as I can.”