Welcome to Kelman Law Firm
The Law Offices of Abigail Kelman, LC offers legal services to clergy of all faiths in matters of employment including contract negotiations, benefits, severance and retirement. Whether you are at the beginning of your career, midcareer, or reaching retirement, we are advocates for clergy by providing legal representation for or consultation to clergy who seek legal advice.
Our goal is to give clergy the legal help and the professional support needed during transitional times which can often be stressful to the clergy and congregation.
I am an experienced attorney with a private practice devoted to representing clergy of all faiths in employment matters. My representation of clergy in employment matters includes contract negotiations, contract renewal, and termination of contracts for clergy employed at synagogues, day schools, Federations, JCCs and other nonprofits.
My involvement in the clergy community in the Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal, and Orthodox movements has lead me to professional relationships with many Rabbinic and Cantorial organizations; I speak to students and clergy to provide guidance and counsel on strategies for next steps in their careers. I have participated in programming and speaking engagements at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, CCAR, and Cantor’s Assembly.
I have spent my life surrounded by rabbis - Conservative, Reform and Orthodox - and have a unique appreciation of their life’s work and pressures. I’m the daughter of Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, z’l, sister of Rabbis Levi Weiman-Kelman and Naamah Kelman, and the granddaughter of Rabbi Felix Alexander Levy, z’l (a Reform Rabbi in Chicago) and Rabbi Zvi Yehudah Kelman, z’l (an Orthodox rabbi in Toronto). I was immersed in Jewish life as a child, attending both Jewish Day School, and Jewish youth group and summer camp. As an adult, I have been active in my synagogue, participating on committees and creating programming.
Growing up in New York City, our Friday night table was filled with clergy of many faiths, writers, musicians, politicians, entrepreneurs, artists, and public figures. There was always a lively discussion that represented a plurality of ideas and opinions. It was a unique incubator for critical thinking and analysis for my siblings and me.
Most recently, I was a member of the faculty of Saint Louis University School of Law. Prior to this appointment, I practiced in the public and private sectors including the Manhattan DA’s office and the Anti-Defamation League. My experience in the private sector included positions at law firms in New York and St. Louis.. As a litigator in private practice, I represented clients in mediations and arbitrations as well as in trials.
I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, cum laude, with a B.A. in Public Policy and earned my J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. I am admitted before the courts of New York, Missouri, and the United States Supreme Court.
The Law Offices of Abigail Kelman, LC offers legal services to clergy of all faiths in matters of employment. As your advocate, we offer legal counsel and professional support during transitional times, which are often stressful to both clergy and the institution. Due to the sensitivity of the relationship between the clergy and Congregation, our strategy focuses on negotiation with all parties to help the clergy and Congregation feel satisfied and comfortable with the outcome. Whether you are beginning your career, midcareer, or reaching retirement, we will help you achieve your goal.
Broadly, Our Services include Representation or Consultation for Clergy regarding:
- Negotiation of new contracts or extensions of existing contracts.
- Resolution of salary and benefit disputes.
- Addressing end-of-contract issues.
- Emeritus agreements.
- Separation agreements.
We are experienced in counseling for the following specific concerns common in clergy employment matters:
- Length of contract
- Compensation and benefits in new and renewal agreements
- Professional development
- Parsonage allowance
- Mediation and arbitration
- Self employment tax
- Noncompetition and non-solicitation
- Performance reviews
Our attorneys are available to assist in all phases of contractual negotiation and/or dispute, and are experienced in drafting and reviewing contracts and retention agreements. We can also handle other issues including:
- Intellectual property
- Disability and death
- Housing assistance
- Breach of contract
- Ethics complaints
The fees for negotiating a contract and for consulting services are flexible. Both flat fees and hourly fees arrangements are available.
Meetings can be accomplished in person, telephone, or via teleconferencing to meet client needs.
The information provided on this website, including articles or links to other websites is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you are not a present client, the sending or receipt of information through this website or by email does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you communicate with us through this website or email, such communications may not be considered privilege or confidential.
Email communication may not be secure and should not be used to communicate confidential or sensitive information.
For your convenience, our website may provide links to other websites maintained by outside organizations and third parties. These links are provided for informational purposes only. Because The Law Office of Abigail Kelman does not maintain these websites, LC, we are not responsible for the content on or accuracy of these websites.
This website is not intended as advertising. The information on this website is for informational purposes only. You should not act upon information presented on this website without seeking the advice of legal counsel. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.
Caution: A Word about Confidentiality
Protecting the confidentiality of the information you send to the law firm is always important. If your workplace issue concerns your current employer, we strongly discourage you from communicating with us (or any law firm) using a computer, e-mail address, network copier/scanner/fax machine, or other device provided by your employer. This is because employers often monitor employee use of their resources. Information transmitted from a work computer or work e-mail address or over an employer’s network may lose its protection as confidential.
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