Emily A. Kolbe






100 Court Avenue, Suite 600
Des Moines, Iowa, IA 50309


Jayne Bryngelson

Court Admissions

All Iowa Courts

U.S. District Courts, Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa


J.D., University of Iowa, 2014

B.A., Grinnell College (History), 2007

Bar Admissions

Iowa, 2014


Emily Kolbe joined the firm in 2016 and works in the firm’s Public Law and Private Law Practice Areas, with a focus on Litigation, Employment Law, and Education Law. She previously served as the leader of the firm's Employment Law Practice Group and the Litigation Practice Group.

Emily represents clients in education, government and private business. She assists employers in defending various claims of retaliation, discrimination and harassment, as well as defending administrative complaints before civil rights and other agencies. She handles general litigation and advises clients on matters including policies and procedures, labor relations and contract issues, employee misconduct, construction matters, and compliance with statutory requirements. She is also a member of the Higher Education Practice Group. With a strong passion for higher education, she enjoys combining her legal work with this important sector.

Emily is a native of Grinnell, Iowa and received her bachelor’s degree in history from Grinnell College, where she was captain of its collegiate softball and basketball teams. Before law school, Emily had a two-year fellowship with the United States Golf Association’s grants department, and worked two years in the Grinnell College Office of Admission. During law school at the University of Iowa, Emily served as Editor-in-Chief of the Iowa Law Review, Volume 99, and interned with the Honorable Jon S. Scoles, United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, as well as with Ahlers & Cooney. After law school, she served for two years as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Linda R. Reade, United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.


Iowa State Bar Association

National Association of College and University Attorneys

Polk County Women Attorneys


Best Lawyers in America©, Ones to Watch -- Education Law (2021-2024)

Super Lawyers Great Plains - Employment Litigation: Defense (Rising Star 2023)

Donald P. Lay Award, Faculty Award

Higher Education and the Law, Jurisprudence Award

Van Oosterhaut-Baskerville Moot Court Competition, Finalist


Emily's most recent speaking engagements include:

Ahlers & Cooney P.C., Employment Law Client Seminar, "Defending Employment Litigation," with Lindsay Vaught, April 2023

Ahlers & Cooney P.C., Employment Law Client Seminar, "Attorney Client Privilege," April 2022

Iowa State Bar Association, 2022 Labor and Employment Law Seminar, "Digital/Social Media Evidence Issues in Harassment and Discrimination Cases," November 2022

Iowa Municipal Finance Officers Association, Fall Conference, "Open Records," with Jenna Sabroske, October 2022

Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., Employment Law Webinar Series, "Navigating Employee Leave Issues in a Pandemic Environment - The ADA, FMLA, and More?," with Rebecca Reif and Olivia Brooks, January 2021

Ahlers & Cooney, Employment Law Client Seminar, "Investigations," with Miriam Van Heukelem, November 2019

Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., Webinar, "Assistance / Emotional Support and Service Animals," with Becky Reif, August 2019

Ahlers & Cooney P.C., Webinar, "New Proposed Regulations under Title IX," January 2019

Ahlers & Cooney P.C., Employment Law Client Seminar, "Current FMLA / ADA Issues" with Rebecca Reif, October 2018

Ahlers & Cooney P.C., Employment Law Client Seminar, "EEOC Guidelines on Retaliation," November 2016

Published Articles & Books

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” Living with Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, 99 Iowa L. Rev. 415 (2013)

Professional, Community and Civic Leadership

Iowa Legal Aid, Central Iowa Regional Office Advisory Council

Young Women’s Resource Center, Volunteer

Drake Adult Literacy Center, Tutor

Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, Class of 2018-2019