Leann Walsh is a partner in the firm's Raleigh office where she is a member of the labor, employment, and workplace safety practice group and health care practice group. She is licensed to practice law in both North Carolina and Massachusetts.
Leann focuses her practice on counseling domestic and international businesses and private equity firms on difficult employee relations issues, conducting internal employment investigations, and defending employers in civil and administration employment litigation matters. Her client base spans numerous industries and sizes, from not-for-profit organizations to start-up businesses to publicly traded companies, with concentrations in health care, higher education, technology, and life science.
She regularly advises clients regarding complex labor and employment issues relating to mergers and acquisitions and has advised on employment issues in more than one hundred and eighty transactions during her career. She also helps to lead the firm's collaborative initiative between its employment law and corporate law practice groups.
Leann is dedicated to partnering with clients to ensure that they are able to accomplish their business objectives while remaining in compliance with employment laws and maintaining positive employee relations. Leann is passionate about providing clients both legal and practical business-related advice on improving their workplace culture, morale, diversity, inclusion, and equity. Throughout her career, Leann has worked with clients to help them successfully navigate through varying business climates—from economic downturns, layoffs, and furloughs, to rapid growth, expansion, and acquisitions.
Leann regularly advises clients regarding compliance issues relating to affirmative action programs, including the development and implementation of affirmative action plan documents. She also advises clients relating to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, including examination accommodations and the accessibility of continuing professional education courses, websites, and physical buildings and facilities. Leann works with clients to resolve these issues with the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, and private litigants.
Leann is a member of Moguls in HR, an exclusive network of the most successful female HR leaders worldwide. Leann also a member of NC Tech, a powerful network of top business and community leaders in the State of North Carolina working to foster growth and champion innovation in North Carolina's technology sector and position North Carolina as a global leader where technology professionals and companies thrive.
Leann is also a member and article contributor to the American Health Lawyers Association, the nation's largest nonprofit educational organization devoted to legal issues in the health care field, and a member of the firm’s collaborative imitative between its health care and employment law practice groups.
Within the firm, Leann is a member of the Raleigh office’s recruiting committee. She is also an active participant in the firm's Women in the Profession Committee and leads the committee's Raleigh office book club, which focuses on facilitating the professional, personal, and business development of its members while strengthening the professional bonds between them. Leann is also a member of the firm's Diversity Committee, and a vocal ally of the firm's LGBTQ affinity group.
Within the larger legal community, Leann is a member of the National Association of Women Lawyers, including its Women in Employment Law Group, empowering women in the legal profession and advocating for the equality of women under the law.
Leann is an alumni of the North Carolina Bar Association's 2020 Leadership Academy, an intensive leadership training program for young lawyers expected to become leaders within the legal profession, their firms, and their local, state, national, and international communities.
Prior to joining the firm, Leann served as a senior associate at a Global 50 law firm where she counseled clients on employment matters, conducted internal employee investigations, gained significant employment litigation defense experience, including civil cases at both the state and federal levels, and provided employment law guidance in corporate transactions.
In 2016, Leann was temporarily assigned to a highly competitive six month program prosecuting crime as a Special Assistant District Attorney on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In that role, she served as lead or co-counsel on fifty bench and jury trials and motions which involved a wide array of criminal conduct, including the crimes of operating under the influence, assault and battery, distribution of narcotics, criminal harassment, strangulation, and conspiracy.
During law school, Leann served for two years as a teaching and research assistant in a Legal, Research, Reasoning & Writing Class of Boston College Law School. She also served as a student attorney in the Boston College Legal Assistant Bureau Housing Clinic, where she successfully appealed the termination of Section 8 Housing benefits in an administrative hearing and favorably settled and mediated eviction and condominium conversion cases.
Leann interned in 2009 for the Office of the Solicitor of the U.S. Department of Labor in Boston, Massachusetts where she produced policy analyses and provided litigation support in cases relating to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Leann interned from 2004 to 2008 in the Legal Department of Jabil, a Fortune 500 publicly-traded company, where she analyzed international employment law compliance issues, assisted with the company’s internal investigations, and drafted company policies and procedures.
- Recognized in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch for Labor and Employment Law - Management, 2022
- Recipient of James W. Smith Award at Boston College Law School for graduating with the highest academic rank
- Recipient of Sheila McGovern Award at Boston College Law School for achieving personal goals under extraordinary circumstances
- Recipient of Dean Dooley Award at Boston College Law School for outstanding first year scholarship average
- Anderson Scholar of the Highest Distinction at the University of Florida
- Recipient of Robert B. Fraser Award from Goodwin Procter LLP for outstanding pro bono work and for making a special contribution to the enhancement of the pro bono programs at the firm
- Leann is a member of the 2020 North Carolina Pro Bono Honor Society
- Leann is currently a co-chair of the Pro Bono Committee of the Labor & Employment Law Section of the North Carolina Bar Association
- Leann is a member of the National Association of Women Lawyers, including its Women in Employment Law Group
- Leann routinely provides pro bono employment law advice to nonprofit organizations throughout the United States, donating hundreds of hours of pro bono work throughout her career
- Since March of 2017, has also been a member of the board of directors of the West End House Support, Inc., a nonprofit organization supporting the West End House Boys & Girls Club of Allston, Massachusetts
- Leann has served on the board of directors of the Wily Network, a non-profit organization working to improve college graduation outcomes for youth with foster care experience at four-year residential colleges, from 2016–2020, including serving as president and co-chair of the organization from 2017–2019. Leann currently serves as an advisory board member to the Wily Network.
- From 2013–2018, Leann coordinated a law firm’s participation in the “Lawyer for the Day” Program in Boston Housing Court that provided pro bono legal aid to low-income tenants facing eviction
- “Diversity and Inclusion in Interviewer Training,” Client Presentation, 7 April 2021.
- “Ethical and Strategic Considerations for Work from Home,” K&L Gates and Pearson Partners International Continuing Legal Education Presentation, 18 November 2020.
- “COVID-19 Workplace Safety Enforcement,” K&L Gates Office Hours Series, 13 November 2020.
- “Workplace Safety highlights from the CDC’s May 2020 ‘Ten Ways Healthcare Systems Can Operate Effectively During the COVID-19 Pandemic’ Guidance,” K&L Gates Health Care Triage Podcast, 28 May 2020.
- “Employment Law Perspectives When Returning to the Workplace in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Association for Corporate Growth (Durham), 14 May 2020.
- “Is Your Employee Handbook Up to Date?: Essential Components and Sample Policies for Today’s Workplace” and “Workplace Behavior and Privacy Issues”, Human Resource Law: What You Need to Know, 13 November 2019.
- “A Journey Through Joint Employment in Health Care: Recent Developments and Guidance,” Contributing author and researcher, North Carolina Society of Health Care Attorneys, September 2019.
- “Time’s Up Healthcare: The Current Climate of Sexual Harassment in Healthcare and Important Considerations of the Future - Part 1,” K&L Gates Health Care Triage Podcast, May 31, 2019.
- “Time’s Up Healthcare: The Current Climate of Sexual Harassment in Healthcare and Important Considerations of the Future - Part 2,” K&L Gates Heath Care Triage Podcast, 23 May 2019.
- “Under the Wire 2019: Internal and External Investigations in the Employment Context,” 31 January 2019.
- “Employment Law Overview” for a K&L Gates General Counsel University Program, 11 January 2019.
- “Imperative Information That Every Employee Handbook Should Contain” as part of the National Business Institute’s Human Resource Law from A to Z Program, 27 December 2018.
- “Workplace Privacy and Employee Monitoring” as part of the National Business Institute’s Human Resource Law from A to Z Program, 27 December 2018.
- “Accidental Domination and Interference with ‘Labor Organizations’ by the Modern Health Care Employer.” K&L Gates Health Care Triage Podcast Series, 2 August 2018.
- “United States Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division – Pilot PAID Program,” K&L Gates Working Wise Podcast Series, Episode 10, 15 May 2018.
- “Conversation to Action: Preventing Sexual Harassment through Legally Sound Policies and Practices,” Contributing author and researcher, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, January 2018.
- “Contract Drafting: When Ambiguities Lead to Lawsuits,” Substitute Adjunct Instructor, New England School of Law, February 2014.
- Completed ESSEC Business School’s Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace course via Coursera (October 2020)
- Graduate of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination’s Conducting Internal Discrimination Complaint Investigation Program (2014)
- Completed University of Minnesota’s Managing Employee Compensation course via Coursera (March 2017)
- Completed University of Michigan’s Managing Talent course via Coursera (November 2015) and Inspiring and Motivating Individuals via Coursera (October 2015)
- “Workplace Violence and the General Duty Clause: Measures Health Care Employers Can Take to Reduce Their Liability and Protect Health Care Workers from Patient Aggression,” American Health Law Association, April 15, 2020.
- “Drafting an Employment Dispute Settlement Agreement and Release,” Wolters Kluwer Smart Task.
- “An Unpredictable Legal Landscape for Joint Employer Issues in the Health Care Industry,” American Health Lawyers Association, Labor and Employment Practice Group Briefing, March 28, 2019.
- “Employee Duty of Loyalty; Covenant Not to Compete; Trade Secrets; and Tortious Interference,” Contributing editor, American Bar Association, Section of Labor and Employment Law State-by-State treatises, 2013-2016.
- “Employee Privacy Laws: Massachusetts,” Practical Law Company, September 11, 2015.
- “Proposed OSHA Workplace Data Program Could Lead to More Targeted Employer Inspections, Client Alert, January 8, 2014.
- “In Harnett, First Circuit Rejects Bright Line “First Contact” Rule for Non-Solicitation Agreement,” Client Alert, November 1, 2013.