"Justice is a level playing field where the least powerful are just as entitled to rights and benefits as the most powerful. It is the ideal that informs all of my work."

Kelly M. Dermody

Kelly M. Dermody

Kelly M. Dermody

San Francisco, California

A Leader in the Plaintiffs' Bar for Workers and Consumers

The Chair of Lieff Cabraser's employment practice group and Managing Partner of Lieff Cabraser's San Francisco office, Ms. Dermody supervises many of the most significant and challenging employment lawsuits in our nation today, including cases challenging gender and race discrimination by top Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and Fortune 100 firms; wage suppression claims against technology, healthcare, and academic institutions; overtime and lost pay lawsuits for low-wage workers, I/T professionals, and foreign nationals working for American corporations; and ERISA claims that she has tried on behalf of employees and retirees for pension plan abuses.

The Daily Journal observed that Kelly's

"values have translated into real workday value for lots of people -- people who have won better job opportunities from companies like Abercrombie & Fitch, Home Depot, and Smith Barney, or monetary damages from banks that have engaged in predatory lending and servicing."

In addition to spearheading employment lawsuits, Kelly represents consumers in consumer protection cases. In 2006, California Lawyer magazine awarded her its prestigious California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award for her successful prosecution of several class action lawsuits against California's main hospital chains for charging the uninsured exorbitant and unconscionable prices for medical care. Under settlements in these cases, uninsured patients received more than $1 billion in refunds or bill adjustments.

Commitment to Society and Advancing the Legal Profession

Kelly is a leader in organizations devoted to serving the public interest, improving access to justice, and ensuring that the rights of historically disenfranchised persons are protected.

Kelly is a member of the ABA Labor & Employment Law Section (LELS) Governing Council, and previously served as Co-chair of the ABA LELS Annual Section Conference, Committee on Diversity in the Legal Profession, and Equal Employment Opportunity Committee.

In 2012, Kelly served as President of the Bar Association of San Francisco ("BASF"), and was a member of its Board of Directors from 2005 to 2012. Founded in 1872, BASF serves legal professionals and the community by promoting access to justice and excellence and diversity in the legal profession, and by providing legal and pro bono services to disadvantaged and underserved individuals.

Outstanding Honors and Recognitions

This year, the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers named Kelly a Fellow. Nomination to the College is by one's colleagues only, and recognizes those lawyers who have demonstrated sustained and exceptional services to their clients, bar, bench, and public, and the highest level of character, integrity, professional expertise, and leadership. Election as a Fellow of the College is regarded by many as the highest honor in the legal profession for lawyers practicing labor and employment law.

Also in 2015, The Recorder named Lieff Cabraser's employment group as a Litigation Department of the Year in the category of California Labor and Employment Law. The Litigation Department of the Year awards recognize, as explained by the editors of The Recorder, "California litigation practices that deliver standout results on their clients' most critical matters."

Kelly's individual honors include receiving the Distinguished Jurisprudence Award in 2014 from the Central Pacific region of Anti-Defamation League. Since 2010, Kelly has annually been recognized by her peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America in the fields of Employment Law – Individuals and Litigation – Labor and Employment. In 2014, she was named "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers in the category of Employment Law – Individuals in San Francisco.

The Daily Journal has selected Kelly as one of the top 100 attorneys in California (2012-2015), top 75 labor and employment lawyers in California (2011-2015), and top 100 women litigators in California (2007, 2010, 2012-2015). She has been named a Northern California "Super Lawyer" every year since 2004, including being named a "Top 10 Lawyer" in 2014.

Areas of Practice

Areas of Practice

  • Employment
  • Consumer Protection


  • University of California at Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, Berkeley, California
    • J.D. - 1993
    • Honors: Moot Court Executive Board, 1992-1993
    • Law Journal: Industrial Relations Law Journal/Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, Articles Editor, 1991 - 1992
  • Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
    • A.B. (Magna Cum Laude) - 1990
    • Honors: Senior Class Ames Memorial Public Service Award
Bar Admissions

Bar Admissions

  • California, 1994
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 1st Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 3rd Circuit, 2001
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit, 2008
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 6th Circuit, 2008
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit, 2006
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit, 2007
  • U.S. District Court Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of California, 1995
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of California
  • U.S. District Court District of Colorado, 2007
Professional Associations and Memberships

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • American Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section (Governing Council, 2009 - present; Co-Chair, Section Conf., 2008 - 2009; Vice-Chair, Section Conf., 2007 - 2008; Co-Chair, Comm. on Equal Opportunity in the Legal Profession, 2006 - 2007)
  • Bar Association of San Francisco (Board of Directors, 2005 - 2012; President, 2011 - 2012; President-Elect, 2010 - 2011; Treasurer, 2009 - 2010; Secretary, 2008 - 2009; Litigation Section; Executive Committee, 2002 - 2005)
  • Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom
  • Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (Board of Directors, 1998 - 2005; Secretary, 1999 - 2003; Co-Chair, 2003 - 2005; Member, 1997 - Present)
  • Carver Healthy Environments and Response to Trauma in Schools (Steering Committee, 2007)
  • College of Labor and Employment Lawyers (Fellow, 2015)
  • Consumer Attorneys of California
  • Equal Rights Advocates (Litigation Committee, 2000 - 2002)
  • National Association of Women Judges (Independence of the Judiciary Co-Chair, 2011 - 2014; Resource Board, Co-Chair, 2009-2011, Member, 2005 - 2014)
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights (Board of Directors, 2002 - 2008; Co-Chair, 2005 - 2006)
  • National Employment Lawyers' Association
  • Northern District of California Historical Society (Board of Directors, 2015 - Present)
  • Northern District of California Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference (2007 - 2010)
  • Pride Law Fund (Board of Directors, 1995 - 2002; Secretary, 1995 - 1997; Chairperson, 1997 - 2002)
  • Public Justice Foundation
  • State Bar of California


  • "Class Actions: Latest Developments in Litigating and Settling Employment Discrimination Class Actions", American Bar Association Labor and Employment Section Equal Employment Opportunity Committee
  • "A Road Map to Discovery in Employment Discrimination and Wage/Hour Class Actions", with James M. Finberg, Glasser Legal Works Seminar
  • "Employment Discrimination Class Actions in the Wake of Allison v. Citgo Petroleum Corp. and Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(f)", Federal Bar Association
Honors and Awards

Honors and Awards

  • AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell
  • Selected for inclusion by peers in The Best Lawyers in America in fields of "Employment Law - Individuals" and "Litigation - Labor and Employment," 2010-2016
  • "California Litigation Star," Benchmark Litigation, 2013-2015
  • "Top 100 Attorneys in California," Daily Journal, 2012-2015
  • "Top 75 Labor and Employment Attorneys in California," Daily Journal, 2011-2015
  • "Top California Women Litigators," Daily Journal, 2007, 2010, 2012-2015
  • "500 Leading Lawyers in America," Lawdragon, 2010-2015
  • "Northern California Super Lawyer," Super Lawyers, 2004-2015
  • "Top 50 Women Northern California Super Lawyers," Super Lawyers, 2007-2015
  • "Top 100 Northern California Super Lawyers," Super Lawyers, 2007, 2009-2015
  • Distinguished Jurisprudence Award, Anti-Defamation League, 2014
  • "Lawyer of the Year," Best Lawyers, recognized in the category of Employment Law - Individuals for San Francisco, 2014
  • "Top 10 Northern California Super Lawyers," Super Lawyers, 2014
  • "Dolores Huerta Adelita Award," California Rural Legal Assistance, 2013
  • "Recommended Lawyer," The Legal 500 (U.S. edition, 2013)
  • "Women of Achievement Award," Legal Momentum (formerly the NOW Legal Defense & Education Fund), 2011
  • "Irish Legal 100" Finalist, The Irish Voice, 2010
  • "Florence K. Murray Award," National Association of Women Judges, 2010
  • "Lawdragon Finalist," Lawdragon, 2007-2009
  • "Community Service Award," Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, 2008
  • "Community Justice Award," Centro Legal de la Raza, 2008
  • "Award of Merit," Bar Association of San Francisco, 2007
  • "California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award," California Lawyer, 2007
  • "500 Leading Plaintiffs' Lawyers in America," Lawdragon, Winter 2007
  • "Trial Lawyer of the Year Finalist," Public Justice Foundation, 2007
  • "Consumer Attorney of the Year" Finalist, Consumer Attorneys of California, 2006
  • "California's Top 20 Lawyers Under 40," Daily Journal, 2006
  • "Living the Dream Partner," Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, 2005
  • "Top Bay Area Employment Attorney," The Recorder, 2004
Past Employment Positions

Past Employment Positions

  • Golden Gate University School of Law, Adjunct Professor of Law, 2001
  • Chief Judge John T. Nixon, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Tennessee, Law Clerk, 1993 - 1994

"One of the nation's premier plaintiffs' firms." American Lawyer

"Representing the best qualities of the plaintiffs' bar." The National Law Journal