Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
Deborah Kelly joined Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in 2017 and is a partner in the firm's Employment and Labor practice. Ms. Kelly represents employers in virtually all areas, from multibillion-dollar high tech and financial services companies to nonprofit associations and other law firms. Ms. Kelly helps her clients adopt best practices that minimize the risk of litigation. She designs and leads in-person training for boards of directors, managers, human resources professionals and other employees. She also counsels boards of directors, including publicly traded companies, about complex C-suite employment matters in a way that deals with the matter without bad publicity or ripple effects on stock value.
In litigation, Deborah handles the full gamut of employment matters, including non-competes, trade secret litigation, breach of contract, wage and hour, and all forms of discrimination. Deborah has tried cases to jury verdicts in federal and state courts as well as in arbitration forums.
Deborah teaches Employment and Labor Law at American University Washington College of Law and spent almost a decade in academia before becoming a lawyer, serving on the political science faculty at American University and the University of Maryland. Deborah also worked at The Brookings Institution, where she researched perspectives of the criminal justice system for a book on congressional oversight of federal administrative practices.
In recognition of her professional contributions, Deborah is a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and has regularly been recognized as a top employment lawyer in publications ranging from U.S. News to Chambers Leading Guide for Businesses.
Before becoming an attorney, Ms. Kelly spent almost a decade in academia. From November 1979 to August 1981, Ms. Kelly worked in Governmental Studies at The Brookings Institution, where she also conducted research on rape victims’ perspective of the criminal justice system and, between 1977 and 1979, concentrated on congressional oversight of federal administrative practices. Ms. Kelly has taught many courses, including law and the political system, public law, national government, law and social policy, constitutional law and politics, judicial process, and the legal status of women. She was a political science professor at American University from 1983 to 1988 and at
Ms. Kelly was nominated by the Honorable Emmett Sullivan and subsequently selected by the full U.S. District Court bench to serve a three-year term on the Grievance Committee for the DC federal court system. Known as “the judge’s committee,” this is a highly prestigious and visible appointment. In early 2012, Ms. Kelly was reappointed for another three-year term. In January 2013, Ms. Kelly was selected by the federal district court judges to serve as Vice Chair of the committee. Ms. Kelly is admitted to practice in New York, Maryland and in the District of Columbia. She is admitted to practice before the District of Columbia, and before the U.S. Supreme Court. Ms. Kelly is a member of the American Employment Lawyers Council and the Litigation Counsel of America. She also is on the Dean’s Advisory Boards of her alma mater, American University’s Washington College of Law. AWARDS & HONORS Since 2010, Super Lawyers has named Ms. Kelly one of the top 50 women attorneys in Washington, DC. Ms. Kelly was named a “Top Lawyer” by Washingtonian magazine in 2009 as well. Since 2007, she has been included in The Best Lawyers in America and has been recommended in Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business as a leading attorney in the area of Employment for the District of Columbia since 2006. The guide quoted a client who called her “the most rock solid, straight-shooting legal adviser we’ve ever had.” According to Chambers, “The head of the employment practice won praise for her pleasant and constructive approach: she is a person to ‘only focus on the target and not get distracted by the baloney of lawyering.’” In addition, she is praised for being “great at both the legal aspects and the relationship-building side of negotiations.” In 2010, Ms. Kelly was selected by American University’s Washington College of Law to receive its Women and Law Leadership Award. In 2009, she received the Project for Attorney Retention’s Flex Success Award in recognition of the many years she spent working a reduced schedule to spend time with her children while simultaneously founding and building Dickstein Shapiro’s Employment Practice.
SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS & PUBLICATIONS
Ms. Kelly is a frequent commentator on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, NPR, and Fox News concerning high-profile employment law cases. She appeared on CNN’s “The Situation Room” with Wolf Blitzer in October 2011 as well as other CNN news shows to comment on issues concerning allegations of sexual harassment by Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain; and on NBC’s “The Today Show” in June 2008 to comment on sexual harassment issues in the workplace. She also has been a guest lecturer, keynote speaker, and panelist at numerous conferences and organization meetings, and has authored many publications.