Paul Lancaster Adams

Shareholder Philadelphia

Paul is a nationally recognized labor and employment lawyer. With a strong in-house and outside counsel background, he brings a unique and practical perspective to issues critical to the modern workplace through counseling, negotiation and litigation. Paul represents employers as lead counsel in federal and state court employment litigation, class and collective actions, labor arbitrations and administrative proceedings. He has successfully tried to verdict over 25 matters in federal and state courts and handled numerous arbitrations and mediations. Paul routinely defends clients in investigations by government agencies such as the EEOC, and state equivalents, DOL and NLRB and conducts and oversees internal corporate investigations of discrimination, harassment, fraud, embezzlement and other forms of employment misconduct. He also represents clients in employment related intellectual property matters and in traditional labor settings.

The International Law Office (ILO) named Paul the 2017 exclusive winner for Pennsylvania in the Employment Law category for its Client Choice Awards, based on feedback provided by more than 2,500 in-house counsel. The recognition focused on Paul’s ability to provide high quality legal representation, strategic thinking and value for services across jurisdictions. In 2017 and 2018 he was recognized as one of the “100 Most Powerful Employment Lawyers in America” by Lawdragon and  Human Resources Executive magazine. In 2016 Paul was elected a Fellow of The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. He has been listed as one of the Best Lawyers in America since 2014 and further singled out as one of "The Legal 500" nationally. Philly Biz Magazine named Paul a "2016 Executive of the Year" distinguishing him as 1 of 11 individuals "working to make Philadelphia a leader in every sector." In 2014, Paul was named one of the "Attorneys Who Matter" describing him as one of "the best and brightest minds in the legal field" by leading international business ethics think-tank the Ethisphere® Institute.

Paul has served, and continues to serve, in firm leadership roles to include firm-wide Management Committee, Office Managing Shareholder, National/International Client Services Committee and the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee. Through Paul's leadership, the Philadelphia office was named SmartCEO's "2015 Law Firm of the Year" and Paul a finalist of the "Industry Practice Attorney of the Year". Paul has been honored "Pennsylvania Diverse Attorney of the Year" in 2013 by The Legal Intelligencer (oldest law journal in the United States), a "Best Attorney in Philadelphia" by the Philadelphia Inquirer as well as "Top Lawyer in Pennsylvania" by the National Law Journal both since 2014 and Pennsylvania Super Lawyer 2015 to present. Additionally, in 2013 the Philadelphia Business Journal selected him to receive the "Minority Business Leader Executive Award" which distinguishably recognizes top level corporate executives and advocates who play a strong role in their respective industries and communities.

Prior to joining Ogletree Deakins, Paul served as Associate General Counsel and Chief Employment Litigator for Microsoft Corporation. He also led the strategic and tactical handling of class actions and high-level domestic and non-United States corporate investigations. As part of the company's Legal and Corporate Affairs External Leadership, he also served as Sr. Director of Government Affairs where he supported and advised the company's largest customer base. During his career with Microsoft, he was honored in 2009 with the National Bar Association's "Clyde E. Bailey, Sr. Award for Corporate Leadership." Preceding Microsoft, Paul was a partner at one of the premier law firms in Philadelphia.

Paul is involved in numerous civic and charitable activities to include, but not limited to, the Governing Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region and UNCF's Leadership Council.


Notable litigation and investigations:

  • Successfully tried to verdict jury trial, on behalf of large international technology company, involving allegations of employment discrimination by five-year manager and high-ranking serviceman, pursuant to the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and concerning intertwined work-performance issues, with complex business components, spanning operations in three continents.
  • Successfully resolved Fortune 100 consumer product company's most significant threat of employment discrimination (class/race) in the company’s history.
  • Favorably resolved significant matter surrounding multiple issues of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and alleged conflicting violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, with broader national implications, for one of the largest food manufacturers in the world.
  • Successfully resolved age discrimination class action involving major manufacturing company.
  • Obtained favorable results in race discrimination class action on behalf of one the nation’s largest electronics retail store chains.
  • Successfully tried to verdict multiple plaintiff Title VII sexual harassment hostile work environment and retaliation matter against clients, an international fast food chain and national franchise.
  • Successful defense in significant Age Discrimination In Employment Act matter involving one of the largest public accounting firms in the world.
  • Favorable results in wrongful termination, malicious prosecution and defamation matter involving intertwined facts of fraud and theft by employees of one of the largest luxury hotel groups in the United States.
  • Successfully tried to verdict case involving the Family and Medical Leave Act and Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law by former facility department head against client healthcare entity.
  • Editorial contributor in “Leading Companies” amicus brief in Dukes v. Wal-Mart (nation’s largest discrimination class action involving more than 1.5M members and $1B).
  • Successfully settled (with no damages allocation) misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition matter related to specular LED technology absolving client’s damage exposure of $292M yearly.
  • Investigated cross-continental whistleblower matter involving questionable business practices, associated with one of the largest data centers in the world, by industry leading vendor with annual contract of $1.2B. Findings resulted in significant operational changes and multi-million dollar reimbursements.
  • Investigated whistleblower matter involving a major medical device company and its production of significant product with annual sales of $68M.
  • Successfully tried to verdict multiple plaintiff gender discrimination, 14th Amendment Substantive and Procedural Due Process rights matter against client municipality, its agency and numerous directors and management personnel surrounding a fifteen year history between the parties.
  • Favorably resolved Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) misclassification case involving one of the largest food manufacturers in the world.
  • Successful defense of Fair Labor Standards Act matter, with national implications, involving a private corporation contracted to provide health services to a major municipality.
  • Responsible for obtaining very favorable settlement in negligent hiring case involving the first reported sexual assault in the history of the largest retail mall in the United States.
  • Successfully defended negligent hiring matter involving a schoolteacher’s brutal murder before a classroom of young children, which had national implications.
  • Successfully tried to verdict (with $20M demand) matter, involving multiple entertainment-industry personnel, surrounding a dangerous fire stunt that went awry during a professional wrestling event severely burning fans. (Facts of incident were portrayed in a New York Times #1 best-selling autobiography which was used by plaintiffs during trial.) The clients, a world-renown entertainment group and sports entertainers, were all exonerated of any wrongdoing.

Professional Activities and Speeches

Professional Activities:

  • American Bar Association
  • National Bar Association
  • American Employment Law Council
  • National Employment Law Council
  • Defense Research Institute
  • Philadelphia Bar Association
  • Barristers Association of Philadelphia
  • Member, Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region Governing Board of Directors
  • Member, UNCF Leadership Council
  • Past Member, National Bar Association Commercial Law Section Executive Committee Board
  • Past Member, Philadelphia Young Playwrights Board
  • Past Member, Jenkins Law Library Board
  • Past Member, Philadelphia Prison Board


  • Corporate Labor and Employment Counsel Exclusive - ''Escaping the Retaliation Merry-Go-Round'' - La Quinta - November 09, 2018
  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''The Life of a Discrimination Claim—From Allegation Through Trial'' - Phoenix - May 09, 2018
  • Labor and Employment Counsel Exclusive - ''You Make the Call: Ethical Dilemmas for In-House Counsel'' - Boca Raton - November 10, 2017
  • Major, Lindsay & Africa and Ogletree Deakins' Inaugural Higher Education General Counsel CLE Summit - ''So... you're a General Counsel of a major College or University'' - Chicago - June 16, 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Annual Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''Preserving the Privilege When the General Counsel or Employment Counsel Wears Multiple Hats'' - Chicago - May 2016
  • National Employment Law Council 21st Annual Conference - '''Moving Past Assumptions: Issues to Consider with Regards to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Workplace'' - Orlando - April 21, 2016
  • Ogletree Deakins Annual Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''Breaking Developments In Whistleblower Litigation and Enforcement'' - San Antonio - May 2015
  • National Bar Association Commercial Litigation Section's 27th Annual Corporate Counsel Conference - ''The Power Play Within Law Firms: Feast or Famine'' - Austin - February 20, 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins Annual Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''From Iraq and Afghanistan To Your Workplace–Hiring A Vet'' - New Orleans - May 2013
  • Association of Corporate Counsel, Delaware Valley (DELVACCA) Chapter Annual CLE - ''Anatomy of an Employment Discrimination Trial'' - Philadelphia - April 23, 2013
  • Ultimate Software Conference - ''Avoiding the Legal Traps of Miscommunicating with Employees and Customers'' - Philadelphia - December 10, 2012
  • National Bar Association Annual Conference - ''Jeopardy in the Workplace'' - Las Vegas - July 16, 2012
  • Ogletree Deakins Annual Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''In-House Roundtable'' - Phoenix - May 2012
  • 7th Annual National Black Pre-Law Conference and Law Fair, (Keynote Speaker) University of Houston - ''A Recipe For Success While In Law School'' - Houston - November 18, 2011
  • Washington, DC Chamber of Commerce Policy Forum - ''Jump Starting the DC Economy Through the Technology Industry'' - Washington, DC - November 10, 2011
  • Philadelphia Bar Association National Symposium on Diversity in the Legal Profession - ''A Legal Update: Diversity or Discrimination?'' - Philadelphia - November 08, 2011
  • Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession - ''The State of Diversity and Inclusion in the Metro DC Area'' - Washington, D.C. - October 2011
  • Minority Corporate Counsel Association’s (MCCA) Diversity Honors Gala - ''Employer of Choice Award for the West Region (Presenter)'' - New York - September 27, 2011
  • American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Litigation Live Webinar - ''Preventing and Cleaning Up After Corporate Cyber-Terrorism, Hacking, Viruses, and Other Electronic Pestilence'' - July 12, 2011
  • League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Annual Convention - ''Microsoft’s Partnering of the Empower Hispanic America with Technology Initiative'' - Cincinnati - July 01, 2011
  • Defense Research Institute’s (DRI) Annual Employment and Labor Law Seminar - ''Troubleshooting Advanced Labor and Employment Issues with Top In-House Practitioners'' - Scottsdale - May 20, 2011
  • Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) Annual CLE Expo - ''Thomas L. Sager Award for the Midwest Region (Presenter)'' - Chicago - March 15, 2011
  • 22nd Annual National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Convention - ''Meeting the Challenge: When Diversity and Inclusion is Your Responsibility'' - Los Angeles - November 20, 2010
  • Just The Beginning Foundation’s 9th Biennial Conference “Reaching Back, Lifting Up” - ''Building Pipelines And the Legal Challenges It Creates'' - Atlanta - October 01, 2010
  • State Bar of Georgia Diversity Program Annual CLE and Luncheon (Keynote Speaker) - ''Assuring The Progress Of Diversity In The Legal Profession During Challenging Economic Times: Microsoft’s Approach'' - Atlanta - September 29, 2010
  • International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC) - ''Searching For Solutions To The Data Explosion'' - Barcelona - July 12, 2010
  • DRI’s Annual Damages Seminar - ''Measuring The Intangible: Creative Ways To Measure And Demonstrate Intangible Value'' - Las Vegas - March 19, 2010
  • American Conference Institute’s Annual Employment Discrimination Conference - ''In-House Management Think Tank On Containing Costs And Optimizing Internal Policies, Practices And Documentation To Set Up, Control And Strengthen The Defense If Litigation Arises'' - New York - February 25, 2010
  • Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles & Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Continuing the Retention and Advancement of Women in Law Firms Conference - ''Is Your Initiative Working? Tracking Diversity'' - Los Angeles - November 17, 2009

Published Works


Our Insights


Media Quotes

June 26, 2017 - The Daily News - "Attorneys in SCS Investigation Define Structure of Probe, Seek Information"
June 11, 2017 - Lawdragon - "Lawyer Limelight: Paul Lancaster Adams"