Lisa Karen Atkins

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Lisa has over 20 years’ experience defending employers ranging from public and private colleges, universities, and technology centers to clients in international tire and automobile manufacturing, steel pipe, carbon black, logistics, security and other safety-sensitive industries, child care, food services, property management, automated retail, and small and family-owned businesses. She represents clients in litigation, EEOC charges, and other state and federal agency proceedings and provides training, day-to-day legal advice, and pragmatic solutions that are tailored to meet client needs.

Lisa’s practice includes Title VII, Title IX, the Family and Medical Leave Act, age discrimination, disability discrimination, EEOC charges and Department of Labor complaints, the Affordable Care Act, COBRA, the IDEA, and Title IV program integrity rules at the administrative, trial, and appellate levels. Her experience includes state and federal agency on-site investigations, disability access and accommodation, including compliance with ADAAG guidelines, sexual and racial harassment and discrimination, reverse race and sex discrimination, religious discrimination, national origin discrimination, retaliation, tenure and promotion, wrongful discharge, constructive discharge, breach of contract, and related state law tort claims. She has successfully handled numerous EEOC charges, OCR complaints, discrimination and racial and sexual harassment complaints, and termination, and individual and official capacity claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1981, and 1985. She also conducts internal investigations and drafts and reviews employee policies and handbooks.

Learn more about Lisa Karen Atkins

Lisa Karen Atkins has represented employers as litigation and in-house counsel in a broad range of employment matters including hiring, compensation, transfer, demotion, grievances, benefits, impairment and drug-testing, accommodation, employee discipline, termination, electronic use (internet and electronic mail), social media, conflict of interest, and military leave. She has substantial experience drafting and implementing employment policies and handbooks, discrimination/misconduct investigations, management reviews, and severance agreements. In addition, she has advised on workforce planning, restructuring and reductions in force in non-union settings and represented clients in connection with investigations arising under federal programs and regulations. Her experience also includes management training, conducting seminars and workshops, and assisting with the formulation and implementation of employment-related risk management strategies. She has successfully defended numerous EEOC charges, OCR complaints, and Title VII, age discrimination, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Family and Medical Leave Act cases for public and private employers at the administrative, trial, and appellate levels. She also has handled Title IX discrimination and individual and official capacity equal protection, due process, and First Amendment claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1981, and 1985.

Lisa is co-leader of the Ogletree Deakins higher education practice group and, before joining Ogletree Deakins, was general counsel for a mid-major, Carnegie-classified doctoral/research university; an associate general counsel for the sixth-largest higher education system in the United States; and an assistant general counsel for a major, division I, doctoral/very high research land-grant university and multi-campus system. In addition to employment law, her higher education representation included FERPA, procurement, negotiating coaches’ contracts, game guarantees, sponsored research agreements, and affiliation, telemedicine and distance learning agreements, and strategic planning, land transfer and fair use. She also handled multiple student disciplinary matters, academic dismissals, including honor code violations, and NCAA and athletic conference investigations. She is a former member of the civil litigation division of the Attorney General, and a former government relations officer and chief of staff.

Lisa has been a speaker at national conferences, a faculty member for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy (NITA), and a guest lecturer at Vanderbilt Law School, Birmingham-Southern College, and Tennessee State University. She is a contributing author to the American Bar Association’s 2013 Report on the Family and Medical Leave Act, and has presented on legal issues including employee discipline and dismissal, working with in-house counsel, conflicts of interest, and loss prevention. She served as a member of the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility Western Division Hearing Committee and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Council on Governmental Affairs. She is currently a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA).


Admittance to Practice

Professional Activities

  • Alabama Lawyers Association (ALA), Education Committee Chair (2018-present)
  • Former member, Council on Governmental Affairs (CGA), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
  • National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA); Committee on Legal Education (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2019); Editorial Board Member, NACUANOTES (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015)
  • Member, Committee on Legal Education, National Association of College and University Attorneys (2015 – present)
  • Member, American Bar Association (2011 – present)
  • Member, Magic City (Birmingham) Bar Association (2012 – present)


Insights by Lisa Karen Atkins