As co-chair of the firm's Construction Practice, Ellen Chapelle has a wide range of experience that spans both the litigation and corporate sides of representing construction clients. After beginning her career as a complex-commercial litigator, Ellen began applying the knowledge gained through litigation to commercial contracts, including construction contracts, vendor agreements and non-disclosure agreements.

Ellen’s work in the construction industry involves representing corporations, partnerships, owners, general contractors and subcontractors in connection with both public and private projects. Her experience includes handling construction defect claims, change orders, delay claims, claims for cardinal changes in the contract, mechanics lien claims, bond claims and claims involving “pay when paid” clauses.

In the corporate arena, Ellen negotiates and drafts contracts, including construction contracts, vendor agreements and non-disclosure agreements. She drafts specifications for insurance, including scope of coverage and additional insured requirements. Ellen counsels clients concerning risk avoidance in the contracting process, including the importance of identifying gaps between insurance and indemnity provisions.

Ellen also has extensive experience in commercial litigation involving bankruptcy, contract disputes, trade secrets, defamation, professional liability, local governmental taxation and constitutional issues. She has practiced in both state and federal trial and appellate courts, as well as appearing in administrative proceedings. She is also experienced in alternative dispute resolution.

With respect to insurance coverage matters, Ellen has represented clients in disputes with their insurers for coverage under property, general liability and builders risk policies. In addition, she has litigated cases seeking insurance coverage for property damaged by construction defects.

Before joining Gould & Ratner, Ellen practiced at Kubasiak, Fylstra, Reizen & Rotunno, P.C. in Chicago.



  • University of Michigan Law School, J.D., cum laude, 1991
  • University of Michigan, B.A., High Honors and High Distinction in Philosophy, 1988

Bar Admissions

  • Illinois

Key Cases or Transactions

  • Represented a joint venture in connection with an action seeking insurance coverage for damages occurring during construction of a municipal water plant.
  • Represented contractor in connection with claims for changes and delay in the renovation of a wastewater treatment plant.
  • Represented a municipality in a suit against its former insurance claims administrator and its auditing firm for failing to detect a multimillion-dollar fraud regarding the management of its self-insurance program. Obtained a favorable settlement for the municipality.
  • Represented a manufacturer in a trade secrets action against a competitor who obtained the client’s designs through a common supplier. Obtained a favorable judgment at trial.
  • Lead trial counsel representing the plaintiff joint venture in a claim for recovery of the contract price, plus the value of certain extra work, relating to a bridge over the Chicago River. Much of the work was done pursuant to oral change orders. The matter was settled before trial, after the City of Chicago agreed to pay the entire amount claimed by the plaintiff joint venture, including the amounts for extra work.
  • Represented the contractor who was retained in connection with the renovation of the HVAC/temperature control system and its conversion to digital controls at a federal building. Prepared a claim for the contractor for unfinished work, unabsorbed overhead, change orders and delay against GSA. After extensive discovery concerning those issues, the claim was settled on favorable terms for our client before the U.S. Board of Contract Appeals.
  • Represented a large real estate developer in an action against an auditing firm for failing to detect a multimillion-dollar embezzlement by the developer’s bookkeeper. Despite the fact that no audit or attestation level services were performed, obtained a seven-figure recovery at trial based upon the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Management Advisory Standards (which had seldom been used to impute liability in litigation matters prior to that time).