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Princeton, NJ, and New York, NY

Vanessa Kelly

Clark Hill PLC


    Vanessa Kelly, Member, Clark Hill, strategizes with employers to minimize their legal risks and optimize the employee experience, to help companies focus on their business.

    Clients partner with Vanessa Kelly when looking to create and foster respectful workplaces that comply with national and state employment standards. Vanessa counsels her management clients about their employee relations concerns. This counseling may include any manner of employment issues. For example: terminations, accommodating disabilities, workplace misconduct, protecting key employees and proprietary information, reductions in force, and using policies to avoid disputes. She creates employment and other transactional agreements to meet her client’s goals, including securing long-term executive employment, restructuring or reorganization, retention agreements, separation agreements and covenants restricting use of confidential information and deterring unfair competition.

    Vanessa’s work with a variety of industries means she has the broad knowledge her clients need, while maintaining her deep roots within labor & employment. Industries include healthcare, insurance, professional service firms, manufacturers, airlines, auto dealers, professional organization (like accounting and law firms) , religious congregations, universities and K-12 schools, and executives.

    When a client finds themselves a party to a lawsuit, Vanessa’s years of trial experience are invaluable, but her internal investigative work is the key to keeping these suits to a minimum. Vanessa investigates and then guides the client through the investigative process. As part of her preventative strategy, she trains HR teams, managers, and employees on a variety of employment topics. She assists clients with audits and other administrative agency proceedings. As a certified Title IX investigator Vanessa received training on trauma-informed investigation techniques and completed course work to serve as a Title IX hearing officer. In this capacity she provides counseling and compliance services for her university clients.

    Vanessa’s pragmatic approach to counseling clients recognizes that employees and diverse teams are essential to business success, so she partners with her clients to create inclusive, equitable, and diverse workplaces. As a close confidante to business owners, chief executive officers, general counsel, employment counsel and HR directors, she provides sage advice based on open communication to achieve their objectives making her the collaborative leader her clients need.

    Vanessa currently serves as the Co-Chair of the firm’s BOLD initiative to promote women within the firm, the legal profession, and the business community. Vanessa also hosts a podcast series, “Leading in a Lonely World: Conversations with Transformative Leaders,” where she interviews community leaders who share their thoughts on leadership against the backdrop of a tumultuous world.


    Rated AV-Preeminent Martindale-Hubbell

    Top Legal Minds in New Jersey

    Bar Register Preeminent Women Lawyers

    The New Jersey Legal Awards 2021 – Mentor of the Year


    American Bar Association, Section of Labor & Employment Law, Nominating Committee, Annual Conference Planning Vice Chair, Employee Rights & Responsibilities Committee; co-Chair Executive Agreements and Compensation

    College of Labor & Employment Lawyers, Fellow

    SHRM, HRMA Princeton Chapter, Co-Legislative Director

    New Jersey Bar Association, Appellate Practice & Legal Education Committees; former Chair, Women in the Profession Section

    Acorn Montessori School, General Counsel (Pro Bono)

    Employment at Will, ABA/Bloomberg Treatise, Regional Editor and Chapter Author

    New Jersey Legal Award Winner – Mentor of the Year

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