Lisa E. Cleary, Patterson Belknap’s Co-Chair and Managing Partner, works closely with a broad range of corporations and tax-exempt organization clients on employment and governance 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.
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 and a broad range of governance issues. 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.
Ms. Cleary often assists companies in navigating difficult situations where CEO terminations occur 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.
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.
Ms. Cleary received a J.D. from Duke University School of Law.
Updated Sep 2021