Photo of James E. Ellsworth

James E. Ellsworth

Key Bank Tower
36 S. State Street
Suite 1900
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Related Info

Mr. Ellsworth is Chair of the firm's Construction section and also a member of the firm's Litigation section. His practice focuses primarily on construction contracting, as well as, development, real property, contract, and related business litigation. He has extensive experience in developing foundational construction agreements for domestic and international clients. He has extensive experience in addressing development and construction issues. 

Mr. Ellsworth represents developers, property owners, and contractors through all phases of development. He assists clients in land use approvals, construction contracting, environmental regulatory compliance and clean-up, water issues, wetland compliance, liens, bonding, construction disputes and related litigation involving public and private projects and entities. Projects include shopping malls, retail, manufacturing, office building, commercial uses, redevelopment projects, highways, as well as residential and other land use and construction.

For over 29 years, Mr. Ellsworth has had experience in a wide range of business litigation, including real property, environmental contamination, construction, development, employment, collections, asbestos, products, contracts, and intellectual property.

Mr. Ellsworth has been recognized as one of Utah's Legal Elite for construction and often provides training for corporate construction project managers and property managers on the legal issues of development, property rights, liabilities, management, and construction.


  • Represents developers, owners, and contractors in small to multi-million dollar projects and disputes.
  • Negotiates and creates construction contracts.
  • Addresses disputes on multi-million dollar private and public construction projects, domestically and internationally.
  • Provides legal counsel and representation before municipalities and governmental agencies on development and redevelopment projects, such as commercial buildings, public highways, infrastructure and raw land.
  • Represents clients before governmental agencies in complex environmental clean-up as well as in the courts for litigation among property owners attendant environmental contamination, throughout the United States.
  • Represents clients in claims and disputes attendant highway and other public construction projects.
  • Represents clients in claims and disputes for damages to property from fire.
  • Represents clients in negotiating historic issues and disputes related to land use.
  • Specific projects include environmental contamination litigation in New York, strip mall construction stucco dispute in California, shingle and roofing disputes throughout the United States and Canada, asphalt and parking lot defects, consultation for national and international developer on construction and product warranties as well as solar power and other LEED certification items, geotechnical and other site and project testing contracts for domestic and international use, damage claims for contractors failed site protection, contractor fraud under construction contract, misapplication of contract funds, payment and performance bond claims in the United States and Canada, subcontractor claims, defective work claims, adverse possession claims, claims of governmental entity to establish public road, insurance and contractor disputes for destruction of property by fire, residential construction and development claims, successful litigation and settlement of carpet related defects in over 120 buildings, as well as defending claims of injuries to persons and property on construction sites and personal injury from asbestos exposure.
  • Has participated in the creation of owner-focused construction contract forms, including agreement forms with General Contractors, Architects, and Consultants.
  • Provides training for construction project management teams on the legal issues attendant construction projects.
  • Provides training for property management teams on legal issues of property rights, use, maintenance, and contracting.
  • Served as a judge in law student oral advocacy competitions at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at the Brigham Young University.

Representative Clients

  • Maverick, Inc.
  • Intermountain Healthcare.
  • Brigham Young University
  • BYU - Idaho
  • A Proctor Group, Ltd., headquartered in Scotland.
  • Atlas Copco North America and related companies.
  • Milwaukee Electric Tool Company.
  • Triago Ventures.
  • Mateo Holdings.
  • Under Canvas Inc.
  • Plunder Design.
  • Fairstar Resources, Australia.
  • Tuskatella Shopping Center, Orange, California.
  • Smile, Inc. Dental Surgeons, Singapore.
  • The State Grid Corporation of China.
  • Millennial Towers.
  • Logan Blue LLC. 
  • Remote Control Technologies (RCT), headquartered in Australia.
  • The Hershey Company.
  • The Ensign-Bickford Company.
  • Sorenson Companies. MSI Inc. and related entities.
  • Pikus Concrete.
  • City Creek Reserves Inc.
  • Suburban Land Reserve, Inc.
  • Property Reserve Inc.
  • Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Numerous other contractors and private developers.


Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School, J.D., 1989

  • Articles Editor, BYU Law Review

Brigham Young University, B.A., International Relations, 1986

  • In-depth study of Finland and the Finnish language while pursuing Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Relations at Brigham Young University

Lived in Finland, 1982-1984

Participated in educational travels in Western Europe and the British Isles, including a six-month residency in London, England


  • Law Clerk to Judge Moody R. Tidwell, III, of the United States Claims Court in Washington, D.C.

Bar Admissions

  • Utah, 1989
  • District of Columbia, 1990
Other Admissions
  • Utah Supreme Court
  • Salt Lake County Bar
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, 1989
  • United States Court of Federal Claims, 1990
  • United States District Court for the District of Utah, 1989
  • United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 1990
  • All Utah State Courts, 1989
  • All District of Columbia Courts, 1990

Honors & Awards

  • Utah Legal Elite: Construction (2010, 2009)


Member, Utah State Bar Construction Law, Real Property, and Litigation sections

Phi Delta Phi Law Fraternity

Community/Civic Involvement

Board Member, Sports Village Homeowner's Association

Former Chair, Evergreen Junior High School Community Council