Elisabeth Tursi’s practice focuses on complex civil disputes, white collar criminal defense, and internal investigations. She represents individual and corporate clients in all stages of state and federal litigation, including discovery, motion practice, oral argument, trial, and appeal. She combines her trial experience as a former Assistant Polk County Attorney with her understanding of large and intricate legal matters from her clerkship with a federal judge to provide effective and insightful representation to the Firm’s clients.

Recent Successes

  • Winning unanimous reversals of a murder conviction in both the Iowa Court of Appeals and the Iowa Supreme Court.
  • Serving on a trial team that obtained the 37th largest jury verdict in the United States for that year. After a three-week trial, the jury returned a $62.4 million jury verdict in favor of a subcontractor against a general contractor arising from a $3 billion construction project—the largest construction project in Iowa’s history.
  • Obtaining the dismissal of a felony operating while intoxicated charge against a successful western Iowa business owner after extensive discovery and a contested evidentiary hearing.
  • Obtaining the dismissal of a felony fraudulent practices charge against the Firm’s client after presenting the prosecutor with evidence that was not considered prior to criminal charges being filed.

Civil Practice

Elisabeth has represented a wide range of individual and corporate clients in a broad array of subject areas. Most recently, Elisabeth has litigated complex contract disputes, employment lawsuits ranging from wrongful termination lawsuits to lawsuits over noncompetition and nonsolicitation agreements, various business torts including fraud and interference with contracts, all manner of conflicts between business competitors, controversies between majority and minority shareholders, trade secret actions, consumer fraud claims, professional malpractice actions, antitrust allegations, and construction disputes. Elisabeth is always in pursuit of the best outcome for her clients which, in addition to formal litigation, can include advocating for clients outside of the courtroom in alternative dispute resolution settings such as mediation or arbitration.

Criminal Practice

Elisabeth has defended individual and corporate clients in a wide variety of white collar criminal investigations and prosecutions. In particular, Elisabeth has represented clients in state and federal court against charges of theft, healthcare fraud, ongoing criminal conduct/RICO, bank fraud, false claims, mail and wire fraud, false statements to the government, and election fraud. Although Elisabeth’s practice focuses primarily on white collar criminal defense, she has also represented clients charged with possession/distribution of controlled substances, operating while intoxicated, felon in possession of a firearm, and, recently, murder.

In addition to her trial advocacy, on numerous occasions, Elisabeth has successfully convinced prosecutors to completely dismiss pending charges against her clients. She has also been successful in avoiding criminal charges all together for individual and corporate clients who were under criminal investigation.

Investigations Practice

Along with her civil and criminal practice—and sometimes as a part of it—Elisabeth conducts internal investigations for business and governmental entities. These internal investigations frequently arise from internal suspicions or complaints of wrongdoing within organizations, and they often involve sensitive allegations about high-ranking officials within those organizations. In conducting internal investigations, Elisabeth has created overarching investigatory strategies, conducted dozens of witness interviews, managed the collection of documents and evidence, and authored and presented the final findings of the investigation to the client. This work utilizes Elisabeth’s strengths of assessing witnesses’ credibility, analyzing potential liability, and formulating risk mitigation strategies for clients. For example, Elisabeth recently worked with other attorneys at the Firm to investigate the head of the Iowa Finance Authority for alleged sexual harassment of state employees. The Firm’s report is available here.


Elisabeth was born and raised in Ottumwa, Iowa, and she graduated with honors and Phi Beta Kappa from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. While in law school at the University of Iowa, Elisabeth was actively involved in the Iowa Law Review, serving as a Contributing Editor and publishing Establishing Principled Interpretation Standards in Iowa’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment Jurisprudence, 100 IOWA L. REV. 323 (2014), which has since been cited in appellate opinions in Iowa and elsewhere. During law school, Elisabeth interned with the Honorable Edward Mansfield and the Honorable Thomas Waterman of the Iowa Supreme Court.

Immediately before joining The Weinhardt Law Firm, Elisabeth served as an Assistant Polk County Attorney in Des Moines, Iowa where she managed a docket of over 1,000 criminal cases. She tried many dozens of cases to verdict or judgment in jury and bench trials, with nearly all of them ending in guilty verdicts or findings. Before becoming a prosecutor, Elisabeth served as a judicial clerk for Chief Judge John A. Jarvey of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.

  • Email: Elisabeth Tursi
  • Direct: 515.564.5271
  • Office: 515.244.3100
  • Fax: 515.288.0407
  • Address:
    2600 Grand Avenue, Ste. 450
    Des Moines, Iowa 50312
  • Assistant:
    Maura McNally-Cavanagh
  • Direct: 515.564.5281


Legal: University of Iowa, J.D., high distinction, 2015 (Contributing Editor, Iowa Law Review)
Undergraduate: Luther College, B.A. (political science), magna cum laude, 2011

Practice Areas

Litigation: Complex Civil Litigation, White Collar Criminal Defense, Trials, Appeals, Internal Investigations

Admitted to Practice

States: Iowa

Federal Courts

  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Iowa
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit