Manatt Adds Prominent Employment Litigator in Washington, D.C.

Deborah Kelly Brings More than 25 Years of Experience as Firm Continues to Grow Presence in Nation’s Capital

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, announced today that Deborah P. Kelly has joined the firm’s Washington, D.C., office as a partner in the employment and labor practice. Kelly joins from Blank Rome LLP, where she was a partner.

Kelly was previously head of the employment practice and deputy general counsel at Dickstein Shapiro LLP, where she worked for more than 25 years before Blank Rome acquired most of that firm in 2016. Kelly has extensive experience in a wide variety of industries, including financial services, professional services and technology, regarding such matters as noncompete cases and alleged breaches of restrictive covenants and trade secrets. She also regularly counsels boards of directors on complex, high-level employment matters and conducts anti-discrimination training. Kelly’s training sessions also include best practices on equal employment opportunity compliance and social media policies for employers, including board of directors, in-house counsel, managers, human resources staff and other employees.

“Deborah’s a well-regarded attorney in Washington who’s known for her direct approach,” said Sandra R. King, chair of the firm’s employment and labor practice. “Her deep experience on the East Coast will complement our efforts nationwide as a new administration affects the legal and regulatory landscape and employers across the country seek strong advice and counsel on employment issues.”

Before she became an attorney, Kelly spent nearly a decade in academia teaching political science at American University and the University of Maryland. She currently teaches employment law at the Washington College of Law at American University. Additionally, Kelly was selected by the U.S. District Court judges to serve for six years on its prestigious Grievance Committee for the federal court system in Washington.

“Manatt's reputation is one of top-notch lawyers who have a great culture of teamwork and support for each other—mixed with a level of friendship and fun that is missing in too many firms these days,” said Kelly. “They have a stellar West Coast employment bench, and I look forward to joining them and helping to grow that practice on the East Coast.”

Manatt’s employment and labor practice is nationally recognized for excellence in Chambers USA and U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 ranking of the country’s “Best Law Firms.” The firm’s lawyers work closely with employers of all sizes—from startups to multinational corporations—to provide comprehensive counseling on employment issues across a wide spectrum of businesses and industries. They put to work years of experience, extensive employment law skills, and the firm’s substantial national resources to help clients prevent problems by helping create policies and procedures, as well as designing training and auditing programs, that keep clients in compliance with a complex array of state and federal laws.

Kelly has been included in The Best Lawyers in America since 2007 and by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in the area of employment for the District of Columbia since 2006. In 2016, she was elected as a Fellow of the College of Labor & Employment Lawyers. She received her B.S. at the University of Vermont, her M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, and her J.D. from American University Washington College of Law.

Douglas C. Boggs, a partner in the Washington, D.C., office, said, “Our office is excited for Deborah to join, as clients increasingly need lawyers with strong ties to, and an understanding of, the political and regulatory arenas. Along with being professionally accomplished, she shares our philosophy of teamwork as the best approach to solving complex legal problems. We very much look forward to working with Deborah.”

About Manatt
Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, is one of the nation’s leading law and consulting firms, with offices strategically located in California (Los Angeles, Orange County, Palo Alto, San Francisco and Sacramento), New York (New York City and Albany), Chicago and Washington, D.C. The firm represents a sophisticated client base—including Fortune 500, middle-market and emerging companies—across a range of practice areas and industry sectors. For more information, visit



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