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O'Kelly E. McWilliams, III


[email protected]



O’Kelly advises companies on a wide array of business and employment law issues. US and international companies, private equity firms, and emerging businesses seek his counsel on how to advance their business objectives and mitigate their risks. O'Kelly is particularly focused on employment, agreements, disputes and compensation matters. He regularly provides guidance on managing employee relationships and has helped many companies investigate and respond to allegations of employer misconduct. O'Kelly also serves on the board and several committees of the Virginia Retirement System, a pensions plan valued at nearly $88 billion.

O’Kelly advises US and international clients on a wide range of business and employment law matters. He has extensive experience handling employment aspects of M&A and other corporate transactions as well as employment disputes and compensation issues. O’Kelly has collaborated with some of the world’s leading companies and emerging businesses to mitigate their risks and advance their business plans. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Virginia Retirement System — a nearly $80 billion pension plan — and participates on its Benefits & Actuarial, Audit and Compliance, Defined Contribution Plan, and Administration and Personnel committees.

To help organizations manage employee relationships and reduce their liability, O’Kelly works with them to establish industry-specific employment policies and to provide board members and managers with compliance and employment training. He also conducts compensation audits to mitigate risks related to pay disparity issues.

O’Kelly has significant experience helping clients develop, negotiate, and draft executive employment, noncompete, independent contractor and consulting, severance, change in control, and other complex agreements. In addition, he handles equity-based compensation and incentive plans, and helps clients assess the risks associated with terminating employment and independent contractor relationships.

Clients count on O’Kelly’s advice to guide them through difficult employee challenges. He has helped companies handle whistleblower allegations and investigations, and he has helped conduct investigations of employee misconduct, including trade secret theft. His experience also includes conducting confidential internal company investigations related to allegations of accounting and financial wrongdoing, corporate waste, discrimination, harassment, and unethical dealings. He has also worked with companies to respond to such allegations.

In addition, O’Kelly has advised clients on the best ways to handle complex employee issues arising from company mergers and acquisitions as well as workforce restructuring. He regularly provides strategic counseling in assessing trade secret, confidential and proprietary information, contractual, and other risks associated with the potential hiring of executives and employee raiding from competitive entities.

As a litigator, O’Kelly has represented clients in disputes involving breach of contract claims, the misappropriation of trade secrets, and employee raiding and noncompete agreements.

Prior to joining us in 2018, O’Kelly established, grew, and managed the DC, Virginia, and Maryland offices of a large national law firm. His experience also includes working with other prominent law firms in the DC area. From 2005 to 2007, he was a Member at Mintz. O’Kelly also clerked with the Honorable Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the Fairfax County Circuit Court in Fairfax, Virginia.

He is frequently invited to lecture and present on employment law matters, including issues related to employment due diligence in business transactions, executive employment agreements, trade secrets, and D&O risk mitigation.


  • George Mason University (JD)
  • Longwood University (BS)

Recognition & Awards

  • Best Lawyers® (2017- 2020)
  • Included on the DC Super Lawyers Employment & Labor, Employment Litigation: Defense, and Business/Corporate list (2014 – 2020)


  • Chair, Board of Trustees, Virginia Retirement System (an almost $88 billion public pension plan)
  • Chairman, Epsilon Zeta Boule Foundation
  • Co-general counsel, National Association of Investment Companies
  • General counsel, MVP International Athletics


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Artificial Intelligence in the Employment Relationship: Friend or Foe?

August 21, 2019 | Blog | By O'Kelly E. McWilliams, III, Jennifer Budoff

Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) is no longer the stuff of sci-fi movies or alien invasions.  The technology has permeated everyday life from Siri and Alexa to Facebook and Google.  While marketing teams have been relying on AI for years to help streamline business efforts and target consumers, employers have finally joined in on the hype. 
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2019 Trends in Employment Law

April 15, 2019 | Video | By O'Kelly E. McWilliams, III

O'Kelly E. McWilliams, III takes a look at the trends impacting employment law in 2019 which include a taking holistic approach to the work place,  transparency related to compensation, and more.
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Mintz 4th Annual Employment Law Summit – The High Cost of Worker Misclassification

March 28, 2018 | Blog | By O'Kelly E. McWilliams III, David Lagasse

Join us in a discussion on the increasingly complex landscape of employee misclassification as we explore best practices to help your company avoid the costly pitfalls and time consuming litigation that can result from this expensive mistake. An estimated 3.4 million employees are misclassified as independent contractors when they should be reported as employees.
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News & Press

Mintz attorneys O’Kelly E. McWilliams III and Jennifer R. Budoff have authored this high-level overview of some of the more prevalent challenges employers may encounter when deploying AI in the workplace, and guidance on the proactive steps employers should consider.
O’Kelly McWilliams is among the sources providing commentary in this article on how employers can improve upon written warnings issued to employees. The piece notes that with more constructive and more specific written warnings can lead to improvement in employees’ behavior and help employers more effectively manage their workforce.
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Mintz is pleased to welcome back O'Kelly E. McWilliams III, who returns to the firm as a Member in the Employment, Labor & Benefits Section. His clients include multi-national companies, private equity firms, and emerging businesses.
Mintz Member O’Kelly McWilliams was featured in a February 5th article in Law360. O’Kelly recently rejoined the Washington, D.C. office. Most recently, he was the managing partner of the Gordon & Rees, LLP Washington, DC office.