Katie Ervin Carlson

Katie Ervin Carlson

Of Counsel


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

Katie represented employees in disputes with their employers for the first 15 years of her legal career.  With that background, Katie brings a unique perspective to our 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, and how employers can maintain a productive workforce while at the same time following the law. Katie’s practice involves not only defending clients who get sued by current or former employees, but also providing daily advice to clients to help them make sure they are making employment decisions that are consistent with the law and minimize the risk of a lawsuit.  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


  • Roxanne Conlin & Associates, P.C., 2004-2006


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


Recreational Marijuana Legalization, Drug Testing Trends, and Considerations for Employers
New Child Labor Law Signals Changes for Employers, Attorneys
Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Reverses Course on Remote I-9 Verification and Issues New Form I-9
What Employers Need to Know About Iowa’s New Child Labor Law
The General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), Jennifer Abruzzo, has recently issued two memorandums significantly changing how employers must draft separation agreements and opining on the enforceability of noncompetition agreements. Can she do that?
Back to the Past: In-Person Document Inspection for I-9 Forms Resumes
Can employers require employees to accept confidentiality and non-disparagement obligations in exchange for severance pay?
FTC Takes First Step to Make Good on Promise to Curtail Non-Compete Agreements
Updates Regarding New Iowa Law That Impacts Health Care Staffing Agencies and Contracts with Health Care Entities
CDC Issues Major Updates for Healthcare Providers and Eases Masking and Other Infection Control Requirements – Important Information for Employers
CDC Issues Major Updates for Healthcare Providers and Eases Masking and Other Infection Control Requirements – Important Information for Employers
Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate: Federal Appeals Court Says It's Unlawful But You Might Have to Comply Anyway
Employer Steps After Minn. Unwittingly Legalized THC Edibles
Minnesota Has Loosened Restrictions on Edible Products Containing THC – What Does that Mean for Minnesota Employers?
What is the CROWN Act, what do I need to know about it, and how should employers prepare for it?
New Iowa Law Will Impact Health Care Staffing Agencies and Contracts with Health Care Entities
Covid-19 Requirements for Healthcare Employers: A Recap of Where Things Stand
Employee Covid-19 Tests—When Must Employers Pay?
U.S. Supreme Court Lifts Injunction Against CMS’ Health Care Facility Vaccine Mandate: What Does This Mean for Your Health Care Facility?
Sixth Circuit Lifts Stay on OSHA’s Vaccine-or-Test Rule, Putting ETS Requirements Back in Effect
Limited Preliminary Injunction Issued for CMS Vaccine Mandate
What’s Next for OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard?
CMS’ COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate: What Health Care Providers Need to Know
OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination or Weekly Testing Mandate: Legal Status and Employer Next Steps
Iowa Passes New Law Related to COVID-19 Vaccination Mandates by Employers and Unemployment Insurance

News & Press Mentions

200 Dorsey Lawyers Selected for Inclusion in 2024 Best Lawyers in America, Lawyers of the Year, and Ones to Watch
Dorsey Senior Attorney Katie Ervin Carlson Comments on Challenges to Federal Vaccine Mandates
3 Things You Should Know About Iowa's Law That Bans Vaccine Passports
Super Lawyers Recognizes Dorsey Lawyers in Des Moines
13 Dorsey Lawyers Selected for Inclusion in 2021 The Best Lawyers in America Employment Law Issue

Select Presentations

  • Drafting Employee handbooks and Policies to Avoid LitigationJuly Heartland of Iowa SHRM Meeting, July 12, 2023
  • Employment Law for the Non-Employment Lawyer, Iowa State Bar Association Annual Meeting, June 22, 2023
  • Performance Management and Employee Terminations, TRIHRA Presentation, June 8, 2023
  • Dorsey’s Fargo Employment Law and Benefits Seminar, May 23, 2023
  • Iowa Society of Healthcare Attorneys, Issues Facing Healthcare Employers, May 18, 2023
  • Iowa Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration Spring Conference, Human Resources Legal Update, April 19, 2023
  • How to Not Get Burned: Avoiding Missteps When Contracting With Employment Agencies, Iowa Hospital Association Critical Access and Rural Hospital Forum, March 9, 2023
  • Drafting Employee Handbooks and Policies to Avoid Litigation, Iowa SHRM State Conference, October 7, 2022 
  • Employee Leave Rights and Workplace Accommodations, Iowa Hospital Association Employment Law Series, August 16, 2022
  • Deep Dive on Dobbs: Key Issues for Employers, Minnesota CLE, August 3, 2022
  • Employee Terminations: Best Practices and Pitfalls to Avoid, Iowa Hospital Association Employment Law Series, July 19, 2022
  • New Updates to Iowa Staffing Agency Contract Laws, Leading Age Iowa member call, May 27, 2022
  • Employment Law 101: Back to Basics, Iowa Hospital Association Employment Law Series, May 24, 2022
  • Important Legal and Practical Considerations When Buying or Selling a Practice, Iowa Dental Association (IDA) Annual Session, April 28, 2022
  • Iowa Employment Law 101, Leading Age Iowa 2022 Spring Conference & Solutions Expo, May 4, 2022
  • Fair Labor Standards Act, Iowa State Bar Association Labor & Employment Law Seminar,November 3, 2021
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates, Minnesota Medical Association Physician Forum, November 3, 2021
  • What You Need to Know Regarding the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 Action Plan, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education, September 29, 2021
  • Leading Age Iowa Fall Conference: Legal Updates for Long-Term Care Providers in Iowa, September 15, 2021
  • Upcoming Order Mandating COVID-19 Vaccines for LTC Facilities, Leading Age Iowa member call, August 27, 2021
  • Iowa Health Care Association Single Facility Conference: Staff Benefits, Bonuses & Giveaways, August 19, 2021
  • When the Problematic Behavior Stems from a Mental Health Condition, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education, July 28, 2021
  • Updates Regarding OHSA’s Emergency Temporary Standard for Healthcare Employers, Leading Age Iowa member call, July 16, 2021
  • Understanding OSHA’s Emergency Temporary Standard for Healthcare Employers, Leading Age Iowa member call, June 18, 2021
  • 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 (current), Labor and Employment Legislative Committee (current)
  • Iowa State Bar Examination Grader (current)
  • 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 and Historian (current)



  • Contributed more than 50 Challenge pro bono hours, 2022
  • Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America, Employment Law – Individuals and Litigation – Labor and Employment, 2019-2023
  • Named a Best Lawyers® Lawyer of the Year, Employment Law – Individuals, 2022
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America Employment Law Issue, 2021
  • Super Lawyers, Great Plains Rising Star, 2013-2021
  • Order of the Coif, Drake University Law School, 2006
Katie Ervin Carlson