Michael Clarkson

Shareholder Boston

Mr. Clarkson is licensed to practice in Massachusetts and regularly appears in state and federal courts and before administrative agencies across the country.  In his work with Ogletree Deakins, Mr. Clarkson litigates cases and counsels large and small private for-profit and not-for-profit employers concerning discrimination, harassment, retaliation, non-compete, wage and hour, employment contract, personnel policy and drug testing issues.  A large portion of Mr. Clarkson's practice is dedicated to workplace investigations.  Mr. Clarkson is Chair of the Ogletree Deakins’ Drug Testing Practice Group and has particular expertise in drafting drug testing policies and in the complex scientific issues surrounding drug testing. Mr. Clarkson is a member of the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee.

Mr. Clarkson frequently writes on and leads seminars on employment law and human resource issues.  Mr. Clarkson is "Preeminent AV" rated by Martindale-Hubbell (reflecting the highest ethical standards and legal ability) and was named a “Super Lawyer” in Boston Magazine’s 2008-present Massachusetts Super Lawyer editions and a “Rising Star” in the 2005-2007 editions.

Mr. Clarkson is Vice Chair of the Employment Law and Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section.

Before joining Ogletree Deakins, Mr. Clarkson was a partner and member of the Management Committee at a Boston-based management-side labor and employment firm. Before moving to Massachusetts, Mr. Clarkson worked in California as a litigation associate at an insurance defense firm and as a staff attorney for the Environmental Law Foundation. Mr. Clarkson received his undergraduate degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University and is currently a member of the ILR School’s Alumni Board of Directors. Mr. Clarkson received his law degree from University of California, Hastings College of the Law where he represented the University at the National Moot Court Competition and taught "Street Law" at Galileo High School in San Francisco.


Published Decisions:

  • Electronic Data Systems Corp. v. Attorney General, 798 N.E. 2d 273 (Mass. 2003)
  • Kaytor v. Electric Boat Corp., 2007 WL 4322546 (D. Conn. 2007)
  • Kaytor v. Electric Boat Corp., 2009 WL 840669 (D. Conn. 2009)
  • Kaytor v. Electric Boat Corp. 2009 WL 1580989 (D. Conn. 2009)
  • Kaytor v. Electric Boat Corp. 609 F.3d 537 (2nd Cir. 2010)
  • Aggreko, LLC v. Koronis and United Rentals, Inc., 2013 WL 6835165 (D. Mass 2013)
  • Barbuto v. Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC, et. al., 477 Mass. 456 (2017)

Recent Activities:

  • Presented on "Designing a Litigation-Proof Drug Testing Protocol" to the Association of Corporate Counsel
  • Presented on "Drug Testing and Background Checks" at Ogletree Deakins Breakfast Briefing
  • Presented on "D.R. Horton - Cuda and the Impact on Arbitration-Only Agreements" to Macy's, Inc.
  • Presented on "The Use of Expert Witnesses in Complex Employment Litigation" to the City of Boston Law Department
  • Presented on "Smart Hiring Practices" to the South Shore Chamber of Commerce
  • Presented on "Public Accommodation and Wage and Hour Concerns in the Hospitality Industry" to the Saunders Hotel Group
  • Presented on "Facebook and Employment Law" to nation-wide audience of auto dealers
  • Presented on "Recent Developments in COBRA" to the South Shore Chamber of Commerce
  • Presented on the "Massachusetts Data Security Law" to the South Shore Chamber of Commerce
  • Presented on "Law Firm Diversity Efforts" at Cornell University
  • Presented on "Electronically Stored Information - A Game Plan for Compliance" to the South Shore Chamber of Commerce
  • Published "Same-Sex Marriage and Civil Unions:  'Til State Borders Do Us Part" in The Brief
  • Presented on the "Employment Law Implications of Same-Sex Marriage in Massachusetts and Civil Unions in Vermont and Connecticut" at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting
  • Presented on "Courtroom Technology and Employment Law Litigation" to Federated Department Stores
  • Presented on "How to Avoid Retaliation Claims" to the South Shore Chamber of Commerce

Professional Activities and Speeches

Professional Activities:

  • American Bar Association (Vice Chair Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section)
  • Massachusetts Bar Association (Labor and Employment Law Section)
  • Boston Bar Association (Labor and Employment Law Section)
  • National Cannabis Bar Association (2018)
  • Massachusetts Cannabis Commission Smoking Working Group
  • Cornell University ILR School Alumni Board of Directors (Boston Chapter Co-Chair)
  • Kennedy-Donovan Center, Inc., Member Human Resources Advisory Committee
  • Posse Boston Volunteer
  • South Shore Chamber of Commerce, HR Advisory Group (2009-2015)
  • Operation A.B.L.E. of Greater Boston Board of Directors (2006-2011)


  • Corporate Labor and Employment Counsel Exclusive - ''Pop Quiz - Labor and Employment Exclusive Style'' - La Quinta - November 08, 2018
  • Cooperative Credit Union Association (CCUA) - ''Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations'' - Marlborough - October 04, 2018
  • RMR Group Presentation - ''MA Equal Pay Act and the Quest for Pay Equity'' - Newton - June 28, 2018
  • Sonesta Hotels - ''Handling Opioids and Marijuana in the Workplace'' - Cambridge - June 26, 2018
  • CBA/ABA/IPEBLA Global Pension and Employee Benefits Conference - ''Marijuana in the Workplace'' - Boston - June 14, 2018
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''Panel Discussion: The Straight Dope on Opioids and Marijuana'' - Phoenix - May 10, 2018
  • Cooperative Credit Union Association - ''Employment Law Implications of Medical and Recreational Marijuana'' - Marlboro - April 06, 2018
  • Cranes 101 - ''Marijuana in the Workplace'' - Franklin - December 06, 2017
  • Labor and Employment Counsel Exclusive - ''Channeling Sherlock Holmes: Deducing Best Practices for Conducting Workplace Investigations'' - Boca Raton - November 10, 2017
  • American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education (ALI CLE) Webinar - ''Marijuana in the Workplace: A Look at Current Legal Issues and What's on the Horizon'' - October 17, 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Webinar - ''What Does Massachusetts’s Landmark Medical Marijuana Ruling Mean for Multistate Employers?'' - August 29, 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''Dazed and Confused? Marijuana and Prescription Drug Issues at Work'' - San Diego - May 04, 2017
  • Justice Resource Institute - ''Conducting Effective Internal Investigations'' - Needham - March 02, 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Briefing - ''General Labor and Employment Law Update'' - Needham - October 20, 2016
  • Massachusetts Council of Human Service Providers, Inc. - ''How to Conduct Effective Workplace Investigations'' - Framingham - October 12, 2016
  • Association of Corporate Counsel Webinar - ''Recreational and Medical Marijuana Laws – What Sports and Entertainment Employers Need to Know'' - September 22, 2016
  • General Dynamics Legal Department - ''Clearing the Smoke on Medical Marijuana Laws'' - Falls Church - September 14, 2016
  • Ogletree Deakins Labor and Employment Counsel Exclusive - ''The Twists and Turns of "Routine" Workplace Investigations: Solutions to Common Challenges'' - Phoenix - November 13, 2015
  • South Shore Chamber of Commerce - ''Legal Implications of Social Media in the Workplace'' - Rockland - September 2015
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''High Times - Managing Legal Marijuana and the Workplace'' - San Antonio - May 14, 2015
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance Legal Department - ''Massachusetts Legal Update'' - Boston - March 17, 2015
  • South Shore Chamber of Commerce - ''Paid Sick Leave and Other Hot Topics'' - Rockland - February 12, 2015
  • Workplace Strategies - ''Disgruntled, Computer Literate, and Focused on You: Defusing Social Media Attacks'' - Las Vegas - May 08, 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins Briefing - ''Employment Law Update'' - Newton - March 27, 2014
  • South Shore Chamber of Commerce - ''Legal Implications of Social Media in the Workplace'' - Rockland - November 19, 2013
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies - ''Blood, Sweat and Hair: Drug Testing in the Workplace'' - New Orleans - May 10, 2013
  • South Shore Chamber of Commerce Roundtable - ''Workplace Privacy'' - Quincy - April 25, 2013
  • Ogletree Deakins Webinar - ''A Sober, Clear-Eyed Look at Drug Testing Best Practices'' - January 17, 2013
  • South Shore Chamber of Commerce - ''Employee Drug Screening - What Employers Should Know'' - Quincy - September 13, 2012
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''Retaliation Litigation - Trends, Risks and Practical Strategies'' - Phoenix - May 09, 2012

Published Works


Our Insights


Media Quotes

January 11, 2019 - SHRM Online - "Overtime Changes May Be Top Legal Trend for 2019"
May 02, 2018 - Associated Press - "Desperate to hire, more businesses open door to pot smokers"
April 25, 2018 - SHRM Online - "Employers Increasingly Drop Marijuana Testing of Job Applicants"