profile headshot of Ellen M. Hames


I am a member attorney at BrownWinick Law Firm and Co-Chair the firm's Corporate M&A practice group. My practice focuses on business transactional law, with an emphasis on M&A transactions, corporate governance, and environmental law. I enjoy the opportunity to assist clients with starting and expanding businesses, including everything from forming businesses, raising capital, acquiring new divisions, to buying and selling businesses.  I also enjoy assisting clients with more of the day-to-day business legal matters, including review and negotiation of contracts and assisting clients with understanding federal, state, or local environmental permitting regulations to ensure compliance. This allows clients to be able to focus on running their business.

My Approach

I give you practical advice and documents to guide you through any matter, whether you're facing negotiation of a contract, forming an entity and preparing appropriate governing documents, selling or buying a business, or assisting with review of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment when purchasing property. I communicate with clients, my colleagues and industry experts to provide sound guidance so that you may make complete and informed decisions.

More About Me

I grew up in Tokyo, Japan, so while I am Midwestern at heart, I view the world with a global mindset.  I graduated in 2008 from the University of Iowa (go Hawks!) with a B.A. in International Studies emphasizing in natural resources and the environment, and a minor in Japanese. In December 2015, I received a J.D., with high honors, from Drake University Law School. While at Drake University Law School I was a member of the Drake Law Review and served as Judicial Extern for Iowa Supreme Court Justice Daryl Hecht.  I was admitted to the Iowa bar in April 2016, and have been selected as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers since 2019. I have also been selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers® - Ones to Watch in the area of Business Organizations, Corporate Governance and Compliance Law, Mergers and Acquisitions Law and Environmental Law. I currently serve on the Iowa State Bar Association's Environment & Natural Resources Section Council, and am a member of the Polk County Bar Association and Polk County Women Attorneys. 

I also enjoy being involved in my local community. I currently serve as an active member of and am on the Board of the Ankeny Economic Development Corporation, and am a graduate of the Ankeny Leadership Institute Class of 2017-2018. 

My Specialties

Business and Corporate

  • Mergers & Acquisition Transactions
  • Growth Capital/Start-Up
  • Corporate Governance
  • Contract Negotiation 


  • Federal and State Regulations
  • Clean Air Act
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Environmental compliance

U.S. Supreme Court Greatly Narrows the Definition of Wetlands in the Clean Water Act

06-5-2023 On May 25, 2023, the United States Supreme Court issued a much-anticipated decision in the Sackett v. EPA case. At issue was whether “Waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”) could include wetlands that are not directly and continuously connected to navigable waters. All nine justices were unanimous in finding that the EPA overstepped its statutory...
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The EPA's Rule Withdrawal Impact on Environmental Due Diligence

07-12-2022 Since our last post, “New ASTM Standard for Commercial Real Estate Phase I Environmental Site Assessments”, the Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”) withdrew its direct final rule to adopt the new ASTM E1527-21 standard for the EPA’s “All Appropriate Inquiry” rules. The “All Appropriate Inquiry” rules provide a framework under which a...
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New ASTM Standard for Commercial Real Estate Phase I Environmental Site Assessments

05-17-2022 On November 1, 2021, the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) International released its revised standards for conducting an environmental site assessment of a parcel of commercial real estate. The new standard updates the previous standard released in 2013. Now referred to as ASTM E1527-21, the ASTM standard is widely used to satisfy...
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U.S. Supreme Court to Take on WOTUS Definition

03-7-2022 The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced that it will hear an appeal on a Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) case in the case of Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A decision from the Supreme Court will hopefully clarify the scope of WOTUS, which, though it is only a definitional gap, has far reaching impacts for what types of waters can be...
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Federal Bank Regulators Issue New Guidance on Paycheck Protection Program Facility

04-10-2020 Type of Action: Interim Final Rule Issued By: Department of Treasury Office of Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”), the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (“Board”), and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”). Date issued: April 9, 2020 To provide a bit of background – on April 7, 2020 the Board authorized Federal Reserve...
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Interim Final Rule Issued for Paycheck Protection Program April 3, 2020

04-3-2020 On April 3, 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration issued an Interim Final Rule regarding the Paycheck Protection Program, accessible here: (the “Rules”). These Rules implement the Paycheck Protection Program sections (sections 1102 and 1106) of the Coronavirus Aid,...
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Do You Have Insurance for Lost Business Due to COVID-19?

03-31-2020 Unless you are extraordinarily fortunate, your business will surely see a drop in revenue due to the economic slowdown caused by the virus. Do you have insurance coverage for this? Past world events such as the Ebola outbreak, 9/11 and hurricanes can provide some guidance. Rest assured, however, that insurance companies will be inundated with...
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Shareholder Meetings Amidst COVID-19

03-27-2020 UPDATE: On March 31, 2020, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation allowing physical meetings of shareholders, policyholders, members, etc. to be held by means of remote communication to the extent that the attendees are provided a reasonable opportunity to participate, communicate, read or hear the proceedings, and vote on matters...
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BrownWinick Attorneys Named to 2024 Best Lawyers® List

08-17-2023 BrownWinick is pleased to announce that 33 lawyers have been included in the 2024 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. BrownWinick would like to congratulate the following attorneys named to the 2024 The Best Lawyers...
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2023 Great Plains Super Lawyers and Great Plains Rising Stars Feature BrownWinick Attorneys

06-1-2023 BrownWinick is excited to announce the following attorneys were selected for inclusion in the Great Plains Super Lawyers directory for 2023. The Great Plains Super Lawyers and Rising Stars listings include the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska.  Nine BrownWinick attorneys were selected for inclusion in the 2023 Great Plains...
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BrownWinick Promotes Four Attorneys to Members

01-3-2022 BrownWinick recently admitted four attorneys as members. We would like to congratulate Ellen Hames, James White, Katie McKain, and Jennifer Lindberg on this achievement. Admission as members speaks to the hard work, skills and character of these individuals.” said Chris Sackett, Managing Member at BrownWinick. “Each of these attorneys brings a...
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BrownWinick Law Firm Attorneys Featured in 2021 Great Plains Super Lawyers and Great Plains Rising Stars

08-20-2021 BrownWinick is excited to announce the following attorneys were selected for inclusion in the Great Plains Super Lawyers directory for 2021. Seven BrownWinick attorneys were selected for inclusion in the 2021 Great Plains Super Lawyers online listing: William Brown - Tax Michael Dee – Business Litigation Thomas Johnson – Business/Corporate James...
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BrownWinick Attorneys Featured in 2019 Great Plains Super Lawyers and Great Plains Rising Stars

07-11-2019 Eleven BrownWinick attorneys were selected for inclusion in the 2019 Great Plains Super Lawyers online listing: William Brown – Tax Elizabeth Coonan – Employment and Labor Michael Dee – Business Litigation Alice Helle – Employee Benefits Thomas Johnson – Business/Corporate Ann Holden Kendell – Employment and Labor James Pray – Environmental Brian...
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Paige Dixson



University of Iowa

B.A., International Studies, 2008


Drake University Law School

J.D., with high honors, 2015; Business Law Certificate


Iowa, 2016

Memberships & Associations

  • Polk County Bar Association
  • Iowa State Bar Association
    Member; Environmental and Natural Resources Law Section Council Member
  • American Bar Association
    Member; Sections on: Business Law; Environment, Energy and Resources; Young Lawyers Division
  • Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors (AM&AA)
  • Polk County Women Attorneys
  • Ankeny Leadership Institute Class of 2017-2018 (graduate)
  • Ankeny Business & Industry Collaborative
    Board Member