Christopher G. Kelly is the firmwide Section Leader of Holland & Knight's 615-lawyer Litigation Section. Mr. Kelly focuses his practice on multiparty complex commercial litigation, including aviation defense, defense of mass and toxic torts, product liability, class-actions (consumer, labor/employment, data privacy and cybersecurity) and insurance. In addition, Mr. Kelly has an internationally recognized reputation for pioneering innovative and cost-effective strategies for minimizing risk in both litigation and commercial transactions. His clients include domestic airlines, international transportation carriers, food and chemical manufacturers, domestic and foreign insurers, and public and private companies in the financial professional and consumer service industries. Mr. Kelly has particular experience in representing clients facing potentially catastrophic liabilities; since 1987 he has successfully guided domestic and foreign clients to resolution, through trial, arbitration, negotiation or mediation of dozens of highly publicized claims that in total sought more than $60 billion in damages. Mr. Kelly is ranked in Chambers USA, where clients noted in particular his ability to "navigate problems large and small effectively."

Representative Matters


After successfully representing an international carrier in a 2000 crash involving more than 100 casualties, Mr. Kelly served as lead U.S. trial counsel in the disappearance of an international flight in May 2009, which resulted in the forum non conveniens dismissal of the 45 individual lawsuits brought in the U.S. He also was the architect of a domestic airline's zero pay resolution of 25 nationwide privacy breach class actions from 2005 to 2008, arising from alleged violations of the airline's self-imposed privacy policies. Mr. Kelly has represented domestic and foreign air carriers in more than 100 commercial and tort claims since 1995.

Class Actions

Mr. Kelly has represented clients across the country as lead trial counsel in putative class actions alleging carcinogenic exposure of 6 million putative class members stemming from West Nile virus spraying in New York City and 4 million putative class members arising from Medfly spraying in Central Florida; privacy violations in the mobile application arena; breach of contract and consumer fraud claims; penalty wage claims; and unfair trade practice claims across multiple industries.

Commercial Litigation

Mr. Kelly has successfully represented dozens of clients in state and federal court actions ranging from bank fraud, shareholder disputes, distribution agreements, unfair competition, fraud, trademark and copyright infringement, various business torts, creditors' rights, bankruptcies and destruction of natural resources.

Mr. Kelly has been Holland & Knight's Litigation Section Leader since Aug. 1, 2018, and was the New York office Practice Group Leader from 2008 to 2018. From 2009 to 2018, he served as one of 24 firmwide elected members of the firm's Directors Committee. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Mr. Kelly was employed as Director of Development at Regis High School, his alma mater, in New York City.

Mr. Kelly has spoken yearly since 2008 at the City Bar Association of the City of New York's "Developments in Commercial Division Practice." In addition, he has spoken at numerous aviation seminars as well as led presentations and moderated panels at American Bar Association (ABA) Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) and the ABA Air & Space Law Forum on litigation. Topics on which Mr. Kelly has spoken include demonstrative evidence, criminalization of negligence claims, comparative U.S.-European legal regimes and the rights of secured and unsecured creditors unintentional bankruptcies. He regularly speaks at overseas conferences for European insurers and their insureds on product liability litigation and developing areas of liability in the United States.


  • Duke University School of Law, J.D.
  • Haverford College, B.A., with honors
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • New York
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • All State Courts in New York
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • The American-Scandinavian Foundation, Executive Trustee 
  • Saint Stephen of Hungary School Foundation, President 
  • Lawyers Alliance for New York, Director
Honors & Awards
  • Chambers USA – America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Transportation: Aviation: Litigation, 2011-2024
  • The Legal 500 USA, Transport: Aviation and Air Travel – Litigation and Regulation, 2020-2022; Leading Lawyer, Transport: Aviation and Air Travel – Litigation and Regulation, 2024
  • Irish Voice, Irish Legal 100, 2023
  • Leading Litigators in America, Lawdragon 500, 2022, 2024
  • New York Super Lawyers magazine, 2013-2023
  • Who's Who Legal: Transport, Aviation Contentious, 2017-2022
  • Guide to the World's Leading Aviation Lawyers, Legal Media Group's Expert Guides, 2013-2020
  • The Best of the Best USA, Aviation, Legal Media Group's Expert Guides, 2017
  • The Legal 500 USA, Litigation: Product Liability & Mass Tort Defense - Aerospace/Aviation, 2014, 2016
  • Client Service All-Star, The BTI Consulting Group, Inc., 2011
  • Best of the Best Aviation Lawyers, Euromoney Guide


Speaking Engagements