A. Craig Cleland

Shareholder || Atlanta

Craig Cleland defends employers in litigation—including class and collective actions—and counsels them in risk management and compliance. He is the former Chair and Co-Chair of the Firm’s Class Action Practice Group. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law, where he teaches Complex Litigation.

Craig is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers as well as a Fellow of the Trial Lawyer Honorary Society of the Litigation Counsel of America. He has been recognized as a BTI Client Service All-Star twice—one of a small number of employment lawyers in the U.S. who “combine exceptional legal expertise with practical advice, business savvy and creative, effective solutions.”

In 2014, Craig was selected as Best Lawyers in America 2014 Atlanta Litigation–Labor & Employment “Lawyer of the Year.” He is listed in Best Lawyers in America, Atlanta Super Lawyers (Top 100 Georgia Lawyers), Chambers USA’s Leading Business Lawyers, and Georgia Trend Legal Elite.

In addition to defending employers in litigation, Craig serves as a mediator or as settlement counsel in complex or difficult cases, and he is a graduate of the Harvard Law School Mediation Program. Also, Craig is a contributor to Black’s Law Dictionary, Garner’s Modern American Usage, Lindemann & Grossman’s Employment Discrimination Law, and Kearns’s Fair Labor Standards Act.

During law school, Craig was the Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review and Best Oralist in the McKenzie-McPhail Moot Court Competition. After graduating in 1992, he clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Marvin H. Shoob in Atlanta for two years. He then practiced at Paul Hastings LLP—including one year as Senior Employment Counsel at Georgia-Pacific Corp.—from 1994 to 2002, when he joined Ogletree, where he has practiced since. Before law school, he was a lay chaplain, teacher, and coach at The Lovett School in Atlanta for six years.

Craig has served on several Atlanta nonprofit boards, including as chair. He currently serves on the Advisory Committee of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.

Learn more about A. Craig Cleland
  • Successfully defended numerous Fortune and other companies in a wide range of industries in high-stakes litigation in federal and state courts around the country.
  • Defeated class certification and obtained decertification in employment-discrimination, wage-and-hour, ERISA/benefits, Fair Credit Reporting Act, RICO, and other employment-related litigation.
  • Negotiated and obtained approval of favorable settlements in class- and collective-actions and other cases.
  • Served as lead trial counsel in multiple single-plaintiff cases and arbitrations and in a class action.
  • Successfully represented employers in federal and state appellate courts.

Education

  • J.D., cum laude, , Georgia State University, 1992
  • S.T.M., with honors, Yale University, 1983
  • M. Div., with honors, Vanderbilt University, 1981
  • B.A., cum laude, Valdosta State University, 1978

Admittance to Practice

  • Georgia
  • U.S. District Court, Middle, Northern and Southern Districts of Georgia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, and Eleventh Circuits
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • Georgia Supreme Court
  • Georgia Court of Appeals
  • Georgia Superior Court

Professional Activities

  • Atlanta Bar Association (Board Member, Labor & Employment Section)
  • Atlanta Legal Aid Society (Advisory Committee)
  • American, State of Georgia, and Atlanta Bar Associations
  • Federal Bar Association
  • American Employment Law Counsel
  • Care & Counseling Centers of Georgia (Past Board Chair)
  • All Saints’ Episcopal Church (Past Vestry Member)

Speeches

  • Labor and Employment Counsel Exclusive - "Staying Classy: Latest Updates and Trends in Class and Collective Actions" - Boca Raton - November 10, 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - "Preparing for (and Hopefully Avoiding) a Class Action Before It Is Filed" - San Diego - May 4, 2017
  • Atlanta Business Chronicle, Power Breakfast Meeting - "Time Is Money—What You Need to Know About the New Overtime Regulations and Pay Equity" - Atlanta - November 2016
  • The Seminar Group, 13th Annual Labor & Employment Law Conference - "Ethical Conundrums in Employment Law" - Atlanta - October 2016
  • ACI Cross-Industry Interdisciplinary Summit on Defending and Managing Class Actions - "Statistical Sampling and Expert Evidence After Bouaphakeo" - New York City - April 2016
  • The Seminar Group, 12th Annual Labor & Employment Conference - "Ethical Issues in E-Discovery" - Atlanta - October 2015
  • Georgia State University College of Law - "Professionalism, Ethics, and Excellence, Speech to Entering First-Year Law School Class" - Atlanta - August 2015
  • Wage-and-Hour Class and Collective Actions, American Conference Institute Employment Discrimination Litigation (Moderator) - "Federal District Court Judges Panel" - New York City - May 2015
  • The Seminar Group, 11th Annual Labor & Employment Conference - "Ethical Issues in Employment Law" - Atlanta - October 2014
  • Strafford CLE Webinar - "Offers of Judgment in Employment Litigation After Genesis" - September/December 2014
  • American Conference Institute 18th Annual National Forum on Wage Hour Claims and Class Actions (Moderator) - "Federal District Court Judges Panel" - New York City - May 2014
  • American Conference Institute Employment Discrimination Litigation Conference (moderator) - "Federal District Court Judges Panel" - New York City - May 2014
  • Association of Corporate Counsel (Georgia Chapter) - "Update on Class Actions" - Atlanta - May 2014
  • State Bar of Georgia 43rd Annual Labor and Employment Law Institute - "Recent Developments in Class Action Litigation" - Atlanta - December 2013
  • Strafford CLE Webinar - "Challenging Certification in Employment Class Claims: Leveraging Dukes and Comcast" - November 2013
  • The Seminar Group 10th Annual Labor & Employment Conference - "Ethical Issues in Employment Law" - Atlanta - October 2013
  • American Conference Institute 19th Annual National Form on Wage Hour Claims and Class Actions - "Latest Trends in Mediation and Settlements" - San Francisco - September 2013
  • Strafford CLE Webinar - "Offers of Judgment in Employment Litigation After Genesis" - September 2013
  • American Conference Institute 16th Annual National Forum on Wage Hour Claims and Class Actions - "Mediation and Settlement of Wage & Hour Claims—The Latest Use of ADR to Resolve Claims and Avoid Costly Litigation" - San Francisco - October 2012
  • The Seminar Group 9th Annual Labor & Employment Conference - "Ethical Issues in Employment Law" - Atlanta - October 2012
  • American Conference Institute 15th Annual National Forum on Wage Hour Claims and Class Actions - "Settlement and Mediation of Wage and Hour Cases" - New York City - May 2012
  • ABA Section of Labor & Employment National Conference on EEO Law - "Does the Cat[‘s Paw] Have Any More Lives?" - San Francisco - March 2012
  • Atlanta Bar Association Labor & Employment Section Advanced Employment Law Seminar - "Practical Issues Around Termination" - Atlanta - March 2012
  • Harvard Club ALM In-House Counsel Labor and Employment Law Forum - "Employment Discrimination and Statistics: Hot Topics & Trends" - New York City - March 2012
  • Stafford CLE webinar - "Wage-and-Hour Class and Collective Action Settlement Strategies" - February 2012
  • National Asian Pacific American Bar Association - "Dukes v. Wal-Mart - The Impact on Class Action and Employment Litigation" - Atlanta - November 2011
  • American Conference Institute - "Wage-and-Hour Class Actions (Moderator for In-House Counsel Panel)" - San Francisco - September 2011
  • American Conference Institute - "Class and Collective Action Settlement—Making the Decision, Calculating Damages, and Assessing Settlement Structure and Administration" - New York - May 2011
  • Stafford CLE webinar - "Wage-and-Hour Class and Collective Action Settlement Strategies" - March 2011
  • American Conference Institute - "Ensuring Ethical Conduct in Managing, Litigating, and Settling Class and Collective Actions" - New York - January 2011
  • Strafford, CLE Webinar - "FLSA Collective Action Litigation Strategies" - October 2010
  • The Seminar Group - "Retaliation Update" - October 2010
  • Ogletree Deakins Immigration Seminar - "Employment Issues for Expats" - Atlanta - September 16, 2010
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - "Class and Collective Actions—Recent Developments" - Las Vegas - May 6 - 7, 2010
  • American Conference Institute - "Settlement Considerations in Wage-and-Hour Class and Collective Actions" - New York - May 2010
  • Strafford, CLE Webinar - "Wage and Hour Collective and Class Actions: The Continuing Litigation Threat" - March 2010
  • American Conference Institute, EPLI Conference - "Staying Ahead of the Curve in Wage & Hour Litigation" - New York - January 2010
  • 2015 - EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION LAW (Barbara T. Lindemann, Paul Grossman & C. Geoffrey Weirich eds., 5th ed. 2012 & Supps. 2014, 2015), chapter monitor - "Reverse Discrimination and Affirmative Action"
  • 2014 - BNA (contributor) - "The Fair Labor Standards Act - Litigation and Collective Actions"
  • 2012 - Employment Discrimination Law (Chapter Editor) - "Reverse Discrimination And Affirmative Action (5th ed. 2012 & First and Second Supps.)"
  • April 24, 2009 - DAILY REPORT - "How Courts Are Struggling to Interpret the [Ledbetter Fair Pay] Act"
  • 2009 - BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY (Bryan A. Garner, ed., 9th ed. 2009), practitioner contributor - " "
  • 2009 - GARNER’S MODERN AMERICAN USAGE (3d ed. 2009), critical reader - " "
  • 2009 - Oxford University Press (Critical Reader) - "Garner's Modern American Usage (3d ed.)"
  • 2009 - West Publishing Co. - "Black's Law Dictionary (9th edition), contributor"
  • 2007 - EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION LAW (Barbara Lindemann, Paul Grossman & C. Geoffrey Weirich, eds., 4th ed. 2007 & Supps), contributor - "'Disability' Chapter"
  • 2002 - EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION LAW (Barbara Lindemann, Paul Grossman & C. Geoffrey Weirich, eds., 3d ed. Second Supp. 2000 & Third Supp. 2002), contributor - "'Disability' Chapter"
  • 2000 - 2003 - ABA Section of Labor & Employment Law, Co-Editor - "ETHICS AND PROFESSIONALISM NEWSLETTER"
  • 1992 - 8 GA. ST. UNIV. L. REV. 171 - "Georgia Legislative History Note"
  • 1992 - 8 GA. ST. UNIV. L. REV. 223 - "Wrongful Repossession in Georgia"
  • Best Lawyer Lawyer of the Year
  • BTI Client Service All Star MVP 2018
  • Best Lawyers Award Badge
  • Ranked in Chambers USA
  • The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers Logo
  • Acritas Star (2018-present)
  • Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
  • Fellow, Trial Lawyer Honorary Society, Litigation Counsel of America
  • Best Lawyers in America 2014 Atlanta Litigation–Labor & Employment “Lawyer of the Year” (peer selected)
  • Best Lawyers in America (2007 to present)
  • Atlanta Magazine Super Lawyers—Top 100 Georgia Lawyers
  • BTI Consulting Client Service MVP (2018)
  • BTI Consulting Client Service All-Star (2017, 2013 and 2010)
  • Regularly listed in Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA Leading Business Lawyers, Atlanta Magazine Super Lawyers, and Georgia Trend Legal Elite
  • Martindale AV Preeminent Rating

Insights by A. Craig Cleland