Espnola F. Cartmill

Nola believes her job as a lawyer is not only to provide the highest quality legal services, but also to understand the practical implications of legal advice. Whether helping an individual develop a visitation schedule after divorce or helping a company develop a strategy for an employee or litigation issue, Nola ensures she understands your desired result so everyone keeps their eye on the end goal. Nola's work is not done until you get results that make sense for you.

Employment Law

Nola devotes substantial time to assisting employers in tackling both day-to-day employment law issues and litigation. Nola regularly counsels employers on various compliance issues including Title VII, the ADEA, the FMLA, the ADA, the WARN Act, the Affordable Care Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, wage payment collection, and unemployment insurance. In addition, Nola regularly drafts and reviews employee handbooks, drug testing policies, non-compete agreements, independent contractor agreements, and the various notices required under state and federal employment laws. Although Nola believes her job is to avoid litigation for her clients, when litigation is unavoidable, Nola represents employers before administrative agencies and state and federal trial and appellate courts.

Family Law

Nola has extensive experience with family law, including child custody disputes, alimony and child support, the division of personal property, step-parent adoptions, and guardianships. Nola understands family law requires a unique approach. Family law matters not only are deeply personal, but often opposing parties will need to find a way to co-exist after the matter concludes. Because of these unique qualities, Nola advocates strongly for her clients and their desired results, but also ensures she is the calm voice of reason helping her clients through what are often some of the most devastating events in their lives.


Nola has litigated cases before Iowa's district and appellate courts as well as the United States District Court for the Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Although she is an experienced litigator, Nola understands that litigation is rarely the goal for her clients. Sometimes litigation is necessary and requires fierce advocacy, which Nola is prepared to provide. Other times, the better approach is to find some resolution short of litigation. Regardless of the approach, Nola will work tirelessly to ensure your desired result is achieved. Her unique ability to find legal support for nearly any legal argument is invaluable in these efforts.


Nola grew up in Fort Madison, Iowa and attended college at the University of Iowa. After a brief stint in Boston for law school, Nola chose Des Moines over Chicago and began her career at Belin McCormick, P.C. It was one of the best decisions she ever made. Des Moines provides a great balance between the big city and the small Iowa town she grew up in.

When not working, Nola enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Her nieces and nephews are the apples of her eye and have her wrapped around their little fingers. Nola also enjoys attending Broadway performances, lifting, reading, acquiring more shoes than she knows what to do with, and traveling. She is an avid fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Chicago Bears. On Saturdays and Sundays during the fall, it is said she can be heard all the way at the firm from her residence in Waukee screaming at the television.

Honors and Accomplishments

Recognized by Best Lawyers in Americain the practice areas of Employment Law -- Management and Litigation -- Labor and Employment

Recognized in Chambers and Partners for her Labor and Employment Law Practice

The National Black Lawyers 40 Under 40 (2016)

Des Moines Business Record"Forty Under 40" Award (2016)

Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute (2011-2012)

Community & Professional Activities

Polk County Bar Association (Member)

Iowa State Bar Association (Member, Labor and Employment Section; Member, Family Law Section)

American Bar Association (Member, Labor and Employment Section; Member, Family Law Section)

Polk County Women Attorneys (Member)

Children & Families of Iowa (Board Secretary/Treasurer)

Des Moines Performing Arts (Board Member)

Grand View University (Board Member)

Lead Like a Lady (Member)

Mercy Medical Center (Board Member)

Representative Work

Successfully resolved numerous family law matters resulting in favorable terms for my clients without litigation.  Litigated family law disputes when necessary including divorce trials, modification trials, temporary hearings, contempt hearings, and appeals on issues, including property division, alimony, child custody and visitation, child support, common law marriage, and guardianships.

Trained supervisors and hourly employees regarding topics including the FMLA, discrimination, and harassment.  Represented numerous employers in unemployment appeals resulting in denied unemployment benefits.

Des Moines Water Works v. Various Drainage Districts. Clean Water Act, nuisance, trespass, and constitutional violation claims resulting in summary judgment for our clients.

Jones v. New Care Clinics. Breach of contract claim resulting in summary judgment for our client.

Lavia v. Siegwerk. Age and gender discrimination claim resulting in summary judgment for our client.

Rasch v. Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc. Iowa Wage Payment and Collection Act and breach of contract claims resulting in summary judgment for our clients.

Swinehart v. Wells Fargo. FMLA retaliation and interference claim resulting in summary judgment for our client.

Wilson v. ACH. Workers’ compensation retaliation claim resulting in a jury verdict in favor of our client.

Publications and Presentations

"The Stilletto in Your Back: Workplace Bullying", Employment Law Seminar (2017)
"Hot Topics in Employment Law: What to Worry About Now", ISBA Seminar (2017)
"Same Claims, Different Times:  The New World of Harassment and Discrimination Claims", Iowa Employment Conference (2017)
"Let's Talk About Sex(ual) Harassment", Employment Law Seminar (2016)
"It's Five O'clock Somewhere: How to Keep a Sober Workforce," Employment Law Seminar (2015)
"B&B Women's Rights Workshop," The Iowa Black and Brown Presidential Forum, Panelist (2015)
"Equal Pay for Equal Work," Employment Law Seminar (2014)
"COBRA and HIPAA," Central Iowa SHRM's HR Law Series (2014)
"Employees Gone Wild: Crisis Control In The Workplace And ADA Considerations" BUILD Des Moines (July 2014, ppg 44-45)
"Promoting Diversity in the Workplace: Lessons Learned from Affirmative Action," Employment Law Seminar (2013)
"Employees Gone Wild: Crisis Control in the Workplace," Employment Law Seminar (2013)