Collaborative Divorce Lawyer and Family Law Attorney
Mary F. Kelly, a founding member of Kelly & Knaplund, has practiced family law in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Dutchess, and New York counties since 1978. She is a charter member of the New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, which has advocated for court reform in family law since 1988. She has been a member of the Ninth Judicial District Gender Fairness Committee since 1994.
A leader throughout her career, Ms. Kelly has served as President of the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (1987-1988) and President of the Westchester Women’s Bar Association (1981-1982). She was appointed Chair of the Grievance Committee for the Ninth Judicial District of the State of New York (1998-2000). She served as Co-Chair of the WBASNY Matrimonial Committee (1991-1992) and is a member of the Professional Standards Committee of the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals.
As a law student, Ms. Kelly worked with Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the 1971 Supreme Court case Reed v. Reed. The decision established that sex discrimination cases should be subject to the Court’s “strict scrutiny” test—previously reserved for cases of discrimination based on race. This meant that the law in question would probably be struck down. In Reed, the Supreme Court ruled that an Idaho law that said men were preferred to women as administrators of estates was a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Ms. Kelly was a charter member of the New York University School of Law Women’s Rights Committee. The committee reached out to women at other law schools to work together on women’s issues on campus and in the legal profession. She and other students fought for the prestigious Root-Tilden scholarship to be open to women. In 1973, Ms. Kelly and other young lawyers founded the first feminist law firm, Bellamy Blank Goodman Kelly Ross and Stanley, tackling cases that could advance women’s rights through litigation. The firm also handled divorces and matrimonial disputes.
Ms. Kelly founded Kelly & Knaplund with Virginia Knaplund, a matrimonial attorney and part-time Village Justice in Scarsdale, in 1982.
For more than a decade, Ms. Kelly has been a member of the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals. The group promotes alternative dispute resolution and collaborative law in divorce cases and other areas of family law. She has had extensive training in the collaborative approach, and continues to attend seminars and participate in small group practice of conflict scenarios. She believes that collaborative law is an exciting legal development and that it is a more effective and sensitive approach to divorce and family disputes. Ms. Kelly is also skilled and experienced in mediation, another method for settling divorce cases without resort to litigation in court.
Mary F. Kelly has demonstrated the highest standards of legal ability as a collaborative divorce lawyer and family law attorney for over forty years. Today, her practice brings together public service, traditional litigation skills, and contemporary dispute resolution models.
New York, 1972
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York
New York University School of Law, J.D., 1971
College of New Rochelle, Dean’s List, B.A. 1965
Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York
Westchester Women’s Bar Association
Westchester County Bar Association