Katie Ervin Carlson

Katie Ervin Carlson

Senior Attorney


Katie helps employers make day-to-day decisions that are legally sound and that reduce the potential of future liability.

Having represented employees for the first 15 years of her legal career, Katie brings a unique perspective to her management clients. She understands what makes employees feel like they are valued and have been treated fairly, and what kinds of policies and practices can get employers in trouble. She uses that understanding to advise her clients to make sure they are making employment decisions that are consistent with the law, thereby minimizing the risk of litigation.

If her clients do find themselves on the receiving end of a lawsuit, Katie provides a thorough yet efficient defense and works towards a swift resolution. Because of her extensive experience as a plaintiff’s attorney, Katie can accurately anticipate her adversary’s next move and get ahead of issues that might otherwise be problematic for her clients. 

Education & Admissions

Drake University Law School (J.D., 2006),

  • High Honors
  • Junior Staff, Drake Law Review (student note published)

University of Iowa (B.A., Communication Studies and Political Science, 2003), Dean’s list


  • Iowa
  • U.S. District Courts for the Northern & Southern Districts of Iowa


  • English


Representative Experience

In her former practice representing plaintiff employees, Katie has a full spectrum of litigation experience, including drafting administrative complaints, participating in unemployment hearings and appeals, drafting lawsuits, drafting and responding to discovery requests, taking and preparing clients for and defending depositions, writing responses to motions for summary judgment and arguing those responses to the court, drafting trial documents and presenting those to trial judges, examining witnesses at trial, creating appellate briefs and appearing before the Iowa Supreme Court. She also has extensive experience in settlement negotiations, including through both private and court-sponsored mediation.

News & Resources

Select Presentations

  • Lien on Me (Just Kidding, Don’t), Iowa Association for Justice Claimants’ and Plaintiffs’ Trial Lawyers Conference, February 10, 2021
  • Attorney Disciplinary Board Claims: A Clear-Eyed Analysis, Iowa Association for Justice Annual Convention, November 5, 2020
  • Discovery Disputes and Motions to Compel, Iowa Association for Justice Claimants’ and Plaintiffs’ Trial Lawyers Conference, February 14, 2020
  • Combating Never-Ending and Ever-Changing Motions in Limine (moderator), Iowa Association for Justice Annual Convention, November 8, 2019
  • Social Media, Iowa Association for Justice Family Law Seminar, April 12, 2019
  • Administrative Exhaustion:  The Iowa Civil Rights Commission, More Important Than You Think, Iowa Association for Justice Claimants’ and Plaintiffs’ Trial Lawyers Conference, February 15, 2019
  • Emerging Issues in Employment Law, Iowa Civil Rights Commission Annual Symposium, April 5, 2019
  • Supporting Academic Success for Pregnant Students, Iowa Safe Schools Title IX Summit, May 15, 2018
  • Employment Law Issues, Polk County Women Attorneys Spring CLE, 2018
  • Beginning the Process – Charge and Complaint Drafting and Discovery Techniques, Eighth Circuit National Employment Lawyers Conference, April 6, 2018
  • Mediation: How to Maximize Your Time and the Settlement (moderator), Iowa Association for Justice Employment Law Seminar, February 16, 2018
  • Employment Law, Iowa Legal Assistants and Paralegals Seminar, 2017
  • Jury Instructions in State Court:  How to Instruct the Jury And Avoid Error on Appeal (moderator), Iowa State Bar Association Labor & Employment Law Seminar, November 13, 2015
  • How Do I Stop Doing What I Don’t Even Know I’m Doing? Recognizing and Addressing Implicit Bias, VNS of Iowa/Hospice of Central Iowa All Staff Retreat, September 24, 2015

Professional & Civic

Professional Achievements

  • Iowa Supreme Court Grievance Commission (current)
  • Iowa Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules of Civil Procedure (current)
  • Iowa State Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section Council (current), CLE planning committee (former)
  • Polk County Bar Association
  • Polk County Women Attorneys, Co-Social Chair (2007), Continuing Legal Education Chair (2008), President-Elect (2009), President (2010), Past President (2011), Secretary (2020-current)
  • Des Moines Public Schools Foundation Board
  • Hubbell Elementary PTA, Merrill Middle School PTA


  • Named a Best Lawyers® Lawyer of the Year, Employment Law – Individuals, 2022
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America Employment Law Issue, 2021
  • Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America, Employment Law – Individuals and Litigation – Labor and Employment, 2019-2022
  • Super Lawyers, Great Plains Rising Star, 2013-2021
  • Order of the Coif, Drake University Law School, 2006
Katie Ervin Carlson