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Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP

Lisa E. Cleary

Lisa E. Cleary

Partner

Expertise

  • Employment Law
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Complex Commercial Actions
  • Class Action Litigation

WSG Practice Industries

Activity

Profile

Lisa Cleary, Patterson Belknap’s Co-Chair and Managing Partner, works closely with a broad range of corporations and tax-exempt organization clients on employment issues related to their highest level executives and other key employees. A thoughtful strategist, she brings valuable insights to clients beyond the law and the facts, anticipating the responses an employer might expect when taking employment action, and how to limit that action’s disruptive impact on the organization. Her clients benefit from her big-picture understanding and insightful perspectives, which allows clients to implement the most effective strategies for their organizations.

For over 20 years, Ms. Cleary has regularly advised boards of directors on issues including the negotiation of executive compensation, performance evaluation, transition and employment termination of CEOs. She provides this sensitive advice for public companies, private entities and tax-exempt organizations and foundations, all of which operate under the same rules in these circumstances. Her work with a significant number of tax-exempt organizations has given her a deep understanding of the interplay between their specific legal requirements and the employment issues they face, such as tax rules on compensation and addressing whistleblower complaints.

Ms. Cleary often assists companies in navigating difficult situations where CEO termination occurs in the midst of critical litigation or other corporate crises. She also advises in-house counsel, human resources personnel, and line managers on minimizing the legal risks of individual employee terminations beyond executives, as well as counseling clients to ensure compliance with applicable laws.

Her practice includes assisting clients in employment-related litigation matters before administrative agencies, state and federal courts. She frequently advises and defends clients facing EEOC, Department of Labor, and New York City Human Rights Commission charges, audits and inquiries. She counsels clients with respect to employment contracts and regularly defends clients in wrongful discharge cases. In addition, Ms. Cleary provides training on a broad range of employment matters, drafts and vets personnel policies and handbooks, and also provides advice on employer recordkeeping requirements.

When her clients are faced with employee theft, whistleblower claims and complaints of discrimination and harassment, Ms. Cleary advises them on best approaches and frequently conducts highly sensitive internal investigations regarding such matters. She has also worked with local, state and federal prosecutors on behalf of clients in a wide range of situations.

In addition, Ms. Cleary defends and prosecutes cases involving employment-related restrictive covenants, drafts and negotiates employment contracts and represents employers in connection with claims arising under ERISA. She also conducts diversity training seminars and provides counsel on employee classifications and overtime issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Where consistent with client goals, Ms. Cleary incorporates alternative dispute resolution procedures to achieve optimum results for clients.

Bar Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court, Southern, Eastern and Northern Districts of New York; District of Colorado
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit; Eleventh Circuit
  • New York

Education

  • Duke University School of Law (J.D., 1983)
    • Chancellor's Scholarship Recipient
  • Harvard University and Radcliffe College (B.A., magna cum laude, 1980)
Areas of Practice

Alternative Dispute Resolution | Class Action Litigation | Complex Commercial Actions | Employment Law | Employment Litigation, Workplace Investigations, and Compliance | False Claims Act and Whistleblower Defense | Financial Services | Litigation | State Attorneys General

Professional Career

Professional Activities and Experience

HONORS: Recipient, New York State Bar Association President's Pro Bono Service Award for the 1st Judicial District (Manhattan), nominated by New York County Lawyers' Association (1994); Recipient, New York State Bar Association’s Root/Stimson Award, in honor of Elihu Root and Henry L. Stimson, whose careers personified the profession’s commitment to public service, and in recognition of outstanding volunteer service to the community which has reflected honor on the legal profession (2001); Recipient, Legal Aid Society, Public Interest Law Leadership Award (2008); Named in Super Lawyers in the area of Employment & Labor; Recipient, Legal Aid Society, Pro Bono Publico Award (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018); Recipient, New York County Lawyers’ Association, Boris Kostelanetz President’s Medal (2016); Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® in the areas of Employment Law – Management and Litigation – Labor & Employment; Named to the "Irish Legal 100"; Named Among Crain’s New York Business’ 2020 Notable Women in Law; Listed as a “Labor & Employment Star” in Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC’s Benchmark: America's Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys



MEMBERSHIPS: Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America; American Bar Foundation; Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Executive Education Program (May 2006); Mobilization for Justice (formerly MFY Legal Services, Inc.) (Chairperson, Board of Directors, 1994–2000; Member of Board, 1992–Present); Volunteers of Legal Service, Inc. (Member, Board of Directors, 1996–Present); Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Member, Board of Directors, 2006–Present; Member, Executive Committee, 2010-2019; Chair, Development Committee); Member, Practising Law Institute (Pro Bono Advisory Committee, 1997–Present), American Bar Association (Litigation and ADR Sections); New York State Bar Association (President’s Committee on Access to Justice, 1996-2004), New York County Lawyers' Association (Chair, Pro Bono Committee); Association of the Bar of the City of New York (Member, Nominations Committee, 2020-2021; Vice President, Executive Committee, 2017–2018; Member, 2011–2013 and Secretary, 2012–2013, Judiciary Committee); Student/Sponsor Program



Articles

The EEOC Issues Clarifying Guidance about COVID-19 Vaccines in the Workplace
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, December 2020

Last week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) updated its COVID-19 guidance to address workplace issues related to COVID-19 vaccines, including mandatory vaccination policies. According to the EEOC, employers may mandate vaccines, but must attempt to accommodate employees who refuse vaccination because of disability or a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance...

EEOC Issues Guidance on the Permissibility of Mandatory COVID-19 Testing in the Workplace
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, May 2020

On April 23, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued new guidance clarifying that employers may conduct mandatory testing of employees for COVID-19 before they enter the workplace so long as the testing is “job related and consistent with business necessity...

New York Employer Tips for Responding to the Coronavirus
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, March 2020

The recent outbreak of 2019-nCOV, a flu-like respiratory illness better known as the Coronavirus, is causing employers to ready themselves for a variety of responses to the spread of the virus.  Human Resources professionals are seeking guidance on how to promote a safe and healthy working environment without violating the rights of ill or potentially ill employees.  We have some tips to help strike the right balance...

Additional Articles

Co-Author, "Unpacking the Employment Implications of Comcast Corp. v. Behrend: The Second Circuit Prepares to Dive In," Inside, Spring/Summer 2014, Vol. 32, No. 1, New York State Bar Association


Blogs

Antitrust Update
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP 

Antitrust Update Blog is a source of insights, information and analysis on criminal and civil antitrust and competition-related issues. Patterson Belknap’s antitrust lawyers represent clients in antitrust litigation and counseling matters, including those related to pricing, marketing,...

Data Security Law Blog
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP 

DataSecurityLaw.com is the firm’s resource for the latest news, analysis, and thought leadership in the critical area of privacy and cybersecurity law. Patterson Belknap’s Privacy and Data Security practice provides public and private enterprises, their leadership teams and boards with...

Exempt Org Resource - Nonprofit Law Blog
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP 

ExemptOrgResource.com is an online resource for information and insight on the unique legal issues impacting nonprofit organizations. The site is designed to keep the nonprofit, tax-exempt organization community up-to-date on legal developments, changing regulations and good practices.

Misbranded
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP 

Misbranded is Patterson Belknap’s blog covering false advertising litigation—both consumer class actions and competitor suits—with a particular focus on FDA-regulated products (foods/beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and dietary supplements).

New York Commercial Division Decisions
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP 

The blog is a source for insights and developments related to practice in the Commercial Division of the New York State Supreme Court. This blog reviews key developments in the Commercial Division, including important decisions handed down by the Commercial Division and appellate court...

Second Circuit Criminal Law Blog
Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP 

The Second Circuit Criminal Law Blog is your place to follow the criminal law decisions rendered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. With a rich 225-year history of legendary judges like Learned Hand and Henry Friendly, the Second Circuit has long been known for writing important...

WSG's members are independent firms and are not affiliated in the joint practice of professional services. Each member exercises its own individual judgments on all client matters.

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