Colleen Cleary has been recognised as a thought leader by Who’s Who Legal for her insights and expertise in the area of employment law. She has been referred to in WWL as “an outstanding employment law expert” who is “very experienced and excellent to deal with”.
Who’s Who Legal uses recommendations of clients and private practitioners to pick out the leading experts in a wide range of practice areas around the world. The select few lawyers on this list are recognised for their expertise and experience advising on some of the world’s most significant and cutting-edge legal matters, but also their ability to innovate, inspire, and go above and beyond to deliver for their clients. The Labour and Employment category includes lawyers with a proven track record in representing and advising management, and senior executives and partners, on all aspects of labour, employment and industrial relations law. These practitioners are experts in team moves; restrictive covenants; collective bargaining and industrial disputes; pensions and benefits; employment litigation and arbitration.
Colleen Cleary shared a panel with leading employment law specialists at the American Bar Association (ABA) International Labor and Employment Law Committee in Amsterdam 30 April-4 May, 2023. The panel on ageism in the workplace was chaired by Judith Keyes and also included leading employment law and HR specialists:- Jason Marsili, Nicole Groves Bridgeforth and Cynthia Nance. Other important issues that were discussed at the mid-term meeting included: workforce investigations, diversity & inclusion, immigration, advances in AI regulation in the workplace, GDPR after five years, and flexible working (including the 4-day work week).
CC Solicitors sponsored the inaugural Workplace Excellence Awards which celebrates organizations and professionals who are constantly striving for improvements and innovative solutions in the workplace to ensure happy and thriving environments. Colleen Cleary, Founder of CC Solicitors was a judge at the awards which were held in Dublin on 24 March.
The winning businesses were:
Excellence In Workplace Diversity And Inclusion Permanent TSB
Excellence In Learning And Development Mitie Facilities Management Ltd
Excellence In Learning And Development SOS Kilkenny CLG
Excellence In Mental Health And Workplace Wellbeing Initiative Of The Year
Excellence In Mental Health And Workplace Wellbeing Creating A Psychologically Safe Work Environment Award Brown Thomas Arnotts
Graduate Training & Apprenticeships Initiative Of The Year Mayo, Sligo And Leitrim ETB
Excellence In Flexible And Hybrid Working Permanent TSB
Excellence In Recruitment , Retention & Recognition Saolta University Health Care Group
Excellence In Employee Engagement & Team Building Turas Nua
Best Use Of Technology Initiative Servisource
Manager / Leader Of The Year Kelly Hanley – Mitie Facilities Management Ltd
Best Practice In Corporate & Social Responsibility Mitie Facilities Management Ltd
Environmentally Conscious Workplace Award Coca Cola HBC
CC Solicitors were listed in the top 100 law firms in Ireland in the Employment category. More than 1,000 legal professionals took part in the Irish Independent peer-to-peer survey which selected the country’s leading firms and their areas of expertise. The list is based on recommendations made by solicitors working in law firms and business clients. The survey was conducted online between March 28 and May 20, 2022, and a total of 1,026 legal professionals took part.
The EU Whistleblowing Directive sets new minimum standards for protecting whistle-blowers and requires EU Member States to establish comprehensive whistle-blower protection frameworks. In this Innangard article, Bernadette Daly shares her perspectives on the current situation in Ireland. The article also includes an analysis from Ulf Goeke, Seitz on the Germany implementation of the directive and from Louise O’Connor on the planned review of the UK Whistleblowing legislation.
Colleen Cleary is the founder of CC Solicitors and Innangard’s chair.
Colleen Cleary is the founder of CC Solicitors, a specialist employment and partnership law firm based in Dublin, Ireland and leads a partner-led team to provide commercially focused advice to clients. Colleen is also qualified in England and Wales and previously practised in the City of London.
What advantages accompany practising labour and employment law in a boutique firm?
Apart from having the luxury of being able to become a real expert in one area of law, you are surrounded by colleagues who have the same interest and passion for employment law as you. Employment law is unique in that while the legislation and case law is complex, it is also very practical in its application. You are also making real-time decisions, so it is very fast-paced and the advantage of being able to discuss a strategy with specialist colleagues in a practice is invaluable.
What has been the impact of remote working on business’ approach to employee wellbeing?
Covid is one of the great disruptors and has forced a huge shift in the workplace. Where workers can work remotely this has generally been embraced in Ireland. The employer has an obligation to provide a safe place of work, which now extends to the home of an employee. Business leaders need tools and know how to lead and manage teams remotely. However, in reality, many leaders may not have got to grips with this yet. The ongoing nature of the pandemic means that the return to hybrid working has only recently got underway. The Right to Request Remote Working Bill 2022 indicates that remote and blended working will be here to stay in Ireland and remain part of working life beyond the pandemic.
How are/can businesses addressing any productivity issues caused by covid-19? Is this creating any legal issues?
In reality, it does seem that the pandemic has demonstrated that employees can work effectively remotely without a detrimental impact on their output. Many employees do conversely find that they work harder when working remotely. In Ireland, the Right to Disconnect as a code of practice was introduced in 2021, which is timely as it interacts with remote working. Employers by compelling employees to work beyond contracted or with usual business hours can run the risk of exposing themselves to a legal claim. This can happen where an employee works for an international company and there is a significant time difference. There is no doubt the lines are less clear when an employee works remotely and there may be expectations that an employee be available beyond their contracted hours.
Studies suggest that the coronavirus pandemic has already had a disproportionate impact on women’s careers. How can this be addressed by employers, and are they taking steps to address this?
This is worrying and there is no doubt a gender divide is emerging where more women are opting to remote work where there is an option to return to the workplace. Ireland has a 14.4 per cent gender pay gap and we can’t afford to go backwards. Employers should ensure their career development and promotion criteria are gender neutralised to ensure that less visibility or remote working does not impact a person’s progression. They should also apply a gender lens to their arrangements for a return to the workplace to ensure that it is balanced and reflects the usual diversity of the workforce.
Do you expect to see more covid-19 related lawsuits against employers from employees? Why?
I envisage more health and safety and whistleblowing claims arising around safety in the workplace related directly to Covid, and an increase in claims for work-related stress and constructive dismissal by senior employees who have had to operate and perform during a very challenging period. The impact of the pandemic has resulted in increased profits for some sectors while others have been devastated by ongoing restrictions. Some businesses who have delayed decision-making are now taking major decisions to restructure their business and make redundancies, which always results in an increase in claims.
How will technological innovation and AI impact clients and your legal practice over the next five years?
I would say with the pandemic that we have fully embraced technology that already existed. We conduct most of our meetings and hearings remotely now and we have converted much of our business development to online content. While it is feasible that chat-bots could take preliminary instructions to procure the essential information required to decide whether a client has a case or not, I do not envisage our advice will be replaced by AI. A large part of litigation and employment law advice is tactical and strategic, which combined with the inherent unpredictability of human nature, means that we do not see AI replacing employment advice just yet.
What underrated skills and traits would you encourage up-and-coming lawyers to develop?
Develop strong and good relationships with your colleagues that you work with and deal with professionally – it is a long career and people that you meet on the way up will be there later possibly as a source of work, job opportunity, a counsellor, or just a good friendship – it definitely comes back to you in a very positive way.
CC Solicitors are delighted to feature in this years Legal 500- The Clients guide to the best Law Firms. Colleen is described as an ‘Adept and Savy Litigator’ with her broad and in-depth knowledge of employment law with experience of advising on workplace disputes; whistleblowing; terminations; corporate reorganisations. Colleen has acted in the Court of Appeal in precedent setting cases on payment of wages and injunction proceedings preventing the termination of employment.
The Employment Law Association of Ireland held their AGM on 30 May 2018 in the Merrion Hotel. Colleen Cleary stepped down as Chair of ELAI after a successful 3-year term and Peter Murphy has now taken on the role of Chair.
We had a very special guest speaker on the night Ms Bronwyn McKenna who was appointed as a UK Tribunal Judge in January 2018. Prior to her judicial appointment she was Assistant General Secretary at UNISON where she led the historic challenge to Employment Tribunal fees in 2017. Bronwyn spoke about a four-year fight against the government in relation to the imposition of Employment Tribunal fees, which led to the government being directed to refund the £27million charged to those who took claims to the Tribunal.
It was an extremely enjoyable evening and was a great opportunity for members of the Employment Law Community to catch up we look forward to another hugely successful year at the ELAI.