<PHILADELPHIA, PA – October 25, 2021 – Cozen O'Connor continues its strategic buildout of the firm's Labor & Employment Department with the hiring of former New Jersey Deputy Attorney General Christopher J. Kelly. Previously, Kelly served as lead counsel representing state agencies and employees, from pleadings through trial, in complex employment discrimination litigation matters, including Title VII, ADA, FMLA, CEPA, NJLAD, workplace violence, medical testing, and employment-related tort and civil rights matters. Kelly joins the firm as a member working in Cozen O'Connor's Philadelphia office.
He routinely represents corporate clients in state and federal wage and hour audits, conducts in-depth employment-related due diligence for corporate mergers and acquisitions, and is an instrumental adviser for handling workforce reductions.
While working as deputy attorney general, he at one point managed a caseload in excess of 18 cases in both the state and federal courts. He drafted and argued appeals before the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court. Kelly was also a member of the Attorney General's E-Discovery Task Force.
Prior to joining the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Kelly was a managing partner for a Los Angeles-based law firm where he led the labor and employment practice and oversaw the internal investigation of an embezzlement fraud case for a multinational nonprofit corporation with $200 million in annual revenue.
"We are experiencing an incredibly unique labor market environment and dealing with labor and employment issues that we have never previously seen. Having a distinguished litigator that can become an integral part of the Cozen O'Connor family right out of the gate is a tremendous asset for our clients," stated Joseph E. Tilson, co-chair of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment Department. "Chris is a highly respected adviser with a depth of knowledge in labor and employment law that will keep him in high demand as corporations continue to address these evolving issues."
Kelly successfully opposed injunction and obtained partial dismissal of claims by a university student seeking to delay Title IX investigation pending issuance of proposed regulations. He has litigated complex employment matters, including discrimination, restrictive covenant, employee raiding, and employment-related trade secret matters in state and federal courts across the country.
"Chris is a tremendously distinguished and well-respected attorney; someone who has shown the rare ability to handle multiple in-depth cases across numerous jurisdictions, all while building relationships," said Vincent R. McGuinness, Cozen O'Connor's president and managing partner. "Labor and Employment law has proven to be one of the most challenging and rapidly shifting practices due to the continued fallout from the pandemic. Now more than ever, Cozen O'Connor clients will need a trusted adviser to handle such complicated issues as the administration's new OSHA COVID-19 directives or the enforcement of corporate policies towards vaccinations. We are thrilled to have someone of Chris's caliber join the team."
"I am thrilled to be joining such a distinguished practice as Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment Department. For more than a decade, I have endeavored to instill a sense of calm and unity within a workplace while vigorously refuting accusations or adverse precedents. Given the challenges of the current environment, being able to maintain that balance is more important now than ever," Kelly said. "This is a wonderful opportunity to join truly distinguished colleagues, and I look forward to being of service to all of Cozen O'Connor's clients."
Kelly received his J.D. from Seton Hall Law School and his B.A. in linguistics from Pomona College, where he received departmental honors.