Paul F. Kelly, Partner, Segal Roitman LLC
Movers & Shakers — Law
One of an on-going series profiling vital players in our government/auxiliary, law, management and labor sectors.
Paul F. Kelly, Partner, Segal Roitman LLC
Labor Attorney and Educator
Across its seven-decade history, the Guild has been blessed with a dedicated faculty of top-of-their-game practitioners: attorneys, labor leaders, arbitrators, economists, and subject experts. One outstanding teacher, labor attorney Paul F. Kelly has been enlightening and empowering our students for 26 years.
A partner with Segal Roitman, Paul Kelly serves as counsel to unions, Taft-Hartley Fund Trustees, and individuals, and as a trial lawyer in cases before state and federal courts, administrative tribunals and arbitrators. He advises union officials concerning matters of internal union governance, collective bargaining and regulatory matters.
“About 70% of my practice is Labor and Employment Law, and the balance is Employee Benefits and ERISA. I enjoy the mix,” Kelly said. “We’re the oldest and largest union-side labor law firm in New England, and represent only individuals, labor organizations and fringe benefit plans.”
In 2010, Paul became a member of the Labor Guild Executive Board, and the first non-union official in Guild history to be so honored. “I’m very proud to have been asked and I enjoy serving,” Kelly said.
Why a Labor Union Practice? “I guess the draw was my life experience. My parents were John Kelly and Audrey Victoria Winks Kelly–a British war bride called Vicki. My dad was seriously injured on Omaha Beach on D-Day, and shipped to an English hospital. He and my mother married in July 1944 before coming to the US. After his physical recovery, he went to Cornell Law School. He became counsel to New York’s growing Civil Service Employees Association. [CSEA is now Local 1000, AFSCME’s largest constituent union.],” Kelly said. “My dad was only 39 when he died in 1960. So from a young age, I wanted to follow in his footsteps and be a lawyer too.”
Raised in Albany NY, Paul headed off to Holy Cross in Worcester in the late 60’s. His mother Vicki passed away in 1969. Like so many students of his generation, he questioned authority and the status quo in a tumultuous era. While aiming for a law career, “certain areas of the law didn’t square with my anti-establishment sentiments,” he smiles. But his father’s did.
Entering Suffolk Law School, he hit the ground running. “I’m grateful that I got to study law there. Can’t say that I was Holy Cross’ most focused undergrad (too busy protesting, etc.), but I was an excellent law student. Suffolk gave me an opportunity. I took advantage of it.” Kelly notes.
Gravitating to labor law, Paul joined Segal Roitman in 1977, after serving as law clerk to Chief Judge Andrew Caffrey at the US District Court. “When my clerkship wrapped up, Bob Segal, Dick Coleman and Harold Roitman were actively hiring. I was really fortunate. Not everyone gets to do work that matters to them, or to find the right path coming out of the gate,” Kelly says. In 1984, Paul Kelly became a partner at Segal Roitman, and joined the Labor Guild faculty that same year
What drew you to the Labor Guild? “From those first contacts, I enjoyed it –the students were so motivated, the positive vibe, and very taken with Fr. Mort Gavin’s ‘Welcome to our House’ attitude. And the Guild’s mission is consistent with my beliefs and what I value.”
Another powerful factor was Fr. Edward Boyle, S.J., who succeeded Fr. Mort. “Fr. Ed made a big impression on me,” Kelly says. “I see him as a remarkable guy who gave his life to the Guild community in a truly selfless and sacrificing way. My feeling is if he can give his life, I can do my bit to keep the Guild moving forward. “
Paul teaches a law course at the School of Labor Management Relations each fall (The Roots of Labor Law this term), and a spring class at Suffolk Law School. “I enjoy teaching both classes. I get to return to the subject matter every year and dig down a little deeper each time,” Kelly says.”My fascination with the roots of labor law is now something of an avocation.”
“I have taught Massachusetts Practice at Suffolk for 14 years, preparing students to practice in the Commonwealth’s courts,” Kelly explains. “I keep an eye on the SJC’s civil procedure cases. I see myself in the law students –particularly those who read the cases and participate in class.”
A Winchester resident, Paul is married to Kathleen Bodie Ed.D, now Superintendent of the Arlington School System. Paul and Kathy’s three children are thriving: Mara Kelly Wignell works for PWC in NY and lives in N.J. with her husband Marcus and daughter Emma. Their son Brian, a Holy Cross alumnus, is a global investment specialist for JP Morgan in Boston. Their youngest Jenna Kelly(Georgetown ,Class of 2010) is an account executive for Google’s global online advertising at their CA headquarters.
In 1996, Paul Kelly received the Cushing Gavin Award as an outstanding union attorney. Paul has also been named a Massachusetts Super Lawyer in Employment and Labor for 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
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