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About Susan

Susan advises on all aspects of the employment relationship, as well as the increasingly common flexible variations on that traditional model. Susan also acts regularly in partnership disagreements, boardroom difficulties and shareholder disputes. She specialises in the resolution of disputes arising in the workplace, often with compliance, safeguarding and regulatory angles. Susan has a particular expertise in Church matters and regularly advises in clergy discipline matters.  She has advised dioceses and parishes on issues ranging from discrimination to redundancy, allegations of abuse and disciplinary action. Susan has advised one particular diocese over several years, on a wide range of employment issues. These matters have included race, religion, disability and sexual orientation discrimination claims, unfair dismissal, redundancy, part-time working issues, disciplinary matters arising out of misconduct, and the legal position of interns, particularly in relation to National Minimum Wage.

Susan’s other employer clients sit within the professional services, education, charities and not for profit sectors. These clients will often seek support throughout the investigation of disciplinary matters, particularly where reputational risk is identified and strategic input needed.  Susan is regularly engaged to advise from all angles on internal investigations.  She was extensively involved in the Anglican Church strand of the statutory Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, representing individuals who came under criticism for their response to reports of non-recent abuse.  She has since represented a number of office holders who have been investigated for their handling of safeguarding matters.  Susan has a particular expertise in discrimination cases and has advised an Islamic charity on alleged disability discrimination and represented several charitable bodies in successfully resisting discrimination claims in the Employment Tribunal.

In addition to advising on queries (and occasionally litigation) on the recruitment process, Susan assists employer clients from start-ups to large institutions clients from start-up level in ensuring they have the right framework of policies and contracts, and builds long-term relationships with her clients to ensure support is in place whenever difficulties arise.

Susan deploys her extensive experience of dispute resolution in acting for both employers and employees, and pursues her clients’ interests vigorously and commercially, whether by negotiation, mediation, arbitration or litigation in the Employment Tribunal or High Court.

Recent Experience

  • Successfully resisting a claim against a diocesan bishop for age discrimination.
  • Assisting trustees of a Higher Education institution navigate the very sensitive circumstances of the exit of its principal.
  • Advising on an investigation into an allegation of discrimination by the principal of a college in the Higher Education sector.
  • Guiding a diocesan bishop through the handling of an external complaint into the alleged misconduct by his Diocesan Registrar (legal adviser).
  • Advising a not-for-profit entity on a local authority mandated investigation into misconduct by one of its employees in a safeguarding context.
  • Representing a senior executive whose role was eliminated while she was on maternity leave.
  • Assisting a consultant breast surgeon on her negotiated exit from a toxic workplace.
  • Advising an Oxford college in relation to governance issues and on the drafting of a contract for the new principal.

Professional Memberships

  • Law Society of England and Wales
  • Employment Lawyers Association
  • Association of Partnership Practitioners

Career Experience

2010 to date: Partner, Winckworth Sherwood

1988 to 2010: Assistant Solicitor, Dawsons

1986 to 1987: Assistant Solicitor, Daybells

1984 to 1986: Trainee, Daybells

Susan Kelly is noted for her deep knowledge of employment law and regularly assists senior executives with sensitive matters. “She’s a very strong employment lawyer -very good at putting things together and a very good, sympathetic person to work with…She’s an incredibly reliable, reassuring and thorough adviser, proactive and prompt in communicating and responding to changing circumstances”

Chambers 2021

“Sue Kelly was excellent, provided thoughtful advice, was very responsive and worked efficiently both on email and in person.”

Legal 500 2021

‘Winckwood Sherwood was recommended to me, in particular Susan Kelly. From the moment I contacted her, she made an extremely stressful situation manageable with appropriate advice and set realistic expectations. She provided options for me and supported me through the process of detachment from a National employer whilst ensuring that I was not disadvantaged by a situation that was not my fault. I would most certainly recommend Susan Kelly.’

Legal 500 2022

She’s incredibly focused and compassionate; she’s always on top of complex details and experienced in navigating negotiations.

Chambers 2021

“I find her to be approachable, friendly, responsive and efficient, with a thorough expertise in her subject.” “She is very quick, responsive and detail-oriented. She made sure that she understood my world and she answered my questions, making a stressful situation manageable.”

Chambers 2022

Upcoming Events

February - November 2022

2022 HR Hour Events Programme

Aimed at HR professionals, our HR Hour events are designed to keep you informed and up to date on changes[…..]


Tuesday 28 June 2022 | 10.00 - 11.00am

HR Hour: Focus on ESG – a lens for those in HR

At our next HR Hour our expert speakers Andrew Yule and Aleksandra Traczyk are delighted to be joined by Will[…..]