Ellen represents management in a full range of traditional labor and employment issues, including NLRB proceedings, negotiations, and arbitration. Ellen has obtained injunctions in labor disputes, and has resolved strike issues. She has appeared before federal and state courts and administrative agencies with respect to employment discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge cases, wage and hour matters, and other employment related litigation. Ellen is recognized nationally for her wage and hour expertise, having served as Editor-in-Chief of the first, second and third editions of the ABA/BNA Treatise, The Fair Labor Standards Act

Honors & Recognitions

  • AVVO Top-Rated Lawyer 2020
  • America's Most Honored Professionals, American Registry
  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® for Employment Law – Management, Labor Law – Management, and Litigation - Labor and Employment (2006-2022, 2024)
  • The Best Lawyers in America® "Lawyer of the Year" in Labor Law - Management (2022)
  • Chambers USA Guide® (2016-2024)
  • Cushing-Gavin Award recipient for excellence in Labor-Management Relations (1993)
  • Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers (2003)
  • Lawdragon 500 Leading Corporate Employment Lawyers (2021-2023)
  • Lelia J. Robinson Award recipient, Massachusetts Women's Bar Association (2006)
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence
  • Massachusetts Super Lawyers® (2004-2021)
  • Top 100: Massachusetts Super Lawyers® (2011, 2017)
  • Top 50: Women Massachusetts Super Lawyers® (2007-2013, 2016-2017)
  • Top 50: Women New England Super Lawyers® (2013, 2017)
  • Who's Who Legal USA – Management Labour & Employment 

Professional & Civic Associations

  • Former member of the American Bar Association's Labor & Employment Law Section Council
  • Past chair of the ABA's Federal Labor Standards Committee
  • Former chair of the Boston Bar Association's Labor & Employment Law Section
  • Former member of the Labor & Employment Law Council, Massachusetts Bar Association
  • Admitted to the College of Labor & Employment Lawyers in 2003
  • Section liaison to the ABA Commission on the Status of Women
  • Elected chair of the Reading Municipal Light Department's board of commissioners, as the first woman to hold that office in the Light Board's 102 year history
  • Member of the Board of Trustees of Regis College

Press Room

About Me

Ellen enjoys traveling with her family and hiking in the White Mountains.

News & Analysis

Client Presentations & Firm Publications

Speaking Engagements & Industry Publications

  • "Labor and Employment Law on the Line - An Interview with Ellen Kearns," The BNA Books Monitor, Volume 3 Issue 1, March 2011
  • "Focus Areas for Claims - the Latest Legal Developments," presentation at Practicing Law Institute (PLI) Managing Wage & Hour Risks 2011, New York, New York, February 7, 2011
  • “Wage & Hour Law Overview and Update,” presented at National CLE Vail Conference - Labor & Employment, Vail, Colorado, January 2011
  • “The Read Double-Edged Sword: Everything You Wanted to Know About Wage and Hour Hybrids,” panel presented at the 4th Annual Section of Labor and Employment Law Conference, Chicago, Illinois, November 2010
  • “Hot Topics in Federal and State Wage and Hour Litigation,” presented at ALI-ABA's Current Developments in Employment Law, Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 2010
  • “Litigating Wage and Hour cases, panel presentation,” MCLE presentation, Boston, Massachusetts, May 2010
  • “The Fair Labor Standards Act: Coverage Issues, Exemptions, Compensable Work Time,” presented for ALI-ABA Course of Study webinars, February 23rd, April 28th, June 23rd, 2010
  • “Hot Topics from the Kearns FLSA Treatise,” moderated panel discussion for the Federal Labor Standards legislation Committee's Mid-Winter Presentation in San Juan, Puerto Rico, February 2010
  • “Focus Areas For Claims--The Latest Legal Developments,” panel presentation for Practicing Law Institute's, Managing Wage and Hour Law Risks, New York, New York, February 2010
  • “Wage and Hour Law Overview and Update,” panel presentation at Law Education Institute's National CLE Conference, Vail, Colorado, January 2010
  • "Planning and Managing the Reduction in Force and Furloughs in a Deteriorating Economy," presented at ALI-ABA Conference, July 2009
  • "Wage and Hour Class Actions Brought under the Fair Labor Standards," presented at ALI-ABA Conference, July 2009
  • "Joint Employee Status Under the FLSA," presented for Law Education Institute, January 2009
  • "White Collar Exemptions," presented for ABA Labor & Employment Law Program, September 2008
  • "Controlling the Arbitrative Hearing," presented at National Academy of Arbitrators Annual Meeting, July 2008
  • "War Stories and Analysis: Recent Wage & Hour Jury Trials," presented for American Conference Institute, April 2008
  • "Record Keeping Requirements Under the FLSA and Their Impact on FLSA Litigation," presented at ABA Section of Labor & Employment Law, Mid-Winter Meeting of EEO Committee, March 2008
  • "Directed Verdicts, MCLE Program on Employment Law Trial Skills Master Class," March 2008
  • "Retaliation Under Burlington Northern," presented for Law Education Institute, January 2008
  • "Key Substantive Issues in Wage and Hour Litigation," presented at American Bar Association Section of Labor and Employment Law, Annual CLE Conference, November 2007
  • "2005 May Bring Changes To The Federal Minimum Wage," College of Labor & Employment Law, Spring Newsletter, 2005
  • "A New Standard to Determine Joint Employer Status,” Bender's Labor and Employment Bulletin, April 2004
  • "The Legal Implications of Non-Traditional Employment Relationships in the Healthcare Industry," American Health Lawyers Association, 2003
  • "The Proposed Section 541 White Collar Exemptions: A Review and Analysis," presented at Annual Meeting of the American Bar Association, 2003
  • Off-The-Clock Time: When Is It Compensable?” presented at National CLE Conference, Labor and Employment Law, Law Education Institute, 2003
  • "Wage and Hour Class Actions," presented at National CLE Conference, Law Education Institute, 2001

Blogs, Videos & Podcasts

  • "Every man or woman who works at a living wage, under safe conditions, for reasonable hours, or is protected by unemployment insurance or Social Security is her debtor."
  • Said of Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor from 1933 - 45 by W. Willard Wirtz, Former Secretary of Labor in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations

Practice Emphasis

  • Labor & Employment
  • Wage & Hour Law


Boston College Law School

  • J.D., 1976

Regis College

  • A.B., 1967

Bar & Court Admissions

  • Massachusetts, 1976
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Back to Page