Kelly represents businesses, fiduciaries, and individuals in trust and estate litigation, real estate litigation, election litigation and complex business litigation. She also represents businesses before government agencies and advises candidates regarding campaign laws. Kelly's experience spans state, federal and local government forums. She has managed cases in multiple parallel forums, including arbitration, and brought cases successfully through appeal.
Trust and Probate Litigation
Kelly has experience in complex and high-stakes trust and probate disputes and litigation, including the following:
- Representing trustees and beneficiaries of multimillion dollar trusts in breach of fiduciary duty claims.
- Defending equitable adoption claims.
- Defending fraud claims against guardians and other challenges to guardians’ authority.
- Litigating exceptions to specific needs trusts.
- Challenging inter vivos transfers.
- Litigating business succession disputes.
- Negotiating and litigating trust terminations.
- Prosecuting creditor claims against probate estates.
- Litigation regarding the construction of trusts and wills.
- Will contests, including undue influence challenges
Real Estate and Land Use Litigation
Kelly also represents developers, property owners, management companies and parties to real estate related agreements in a variety of real property and land use disputes, including complex commercial foreclosures. Her experience in this area includes the following:
- Representing property management companies in landlord/tenant and leasing disputes, including breach of covenants, ADA claims, disputes over operating expenses, evictions and first amendment issues.
- Representing property owners in permitting and zoning related disputes, including code violations, ordinance challenges, and property rights disputes.
- Representing developers and owners in an array of restrictive covenant, condominium and community association disputes.
- Representing owners in storm water litigation.
- Representing owners in boundary and easement related disputes.
- Representing parties to construction related disputes.
- Litigating purchase related disputes, including pursuit of claims for specific performance.
- Litigating real estate related partnership disputes.
- Litigating partition actions.
- Representing lenders and corporate debtors in complex real estate foreclosure proceedings, including cases with lender liability, guaranty and deficiency claims.
Governmental, Election and Political Activity Law
Kelly has represented both government entities, and those subject to government rules and regulation, including political and judicial candidates and an array of Florida businesses. Her representations include the following:
- Challenging government decisions before state agencies and the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings.
- Counsel to government entity pursuing ethics charges against public official.
- Advising judicial and political candidates on election laws.
- Counsel to Political Action Committee challenging the ballot title and summary for proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution.
- Challenging constitutionality of state health care related legislation.
- Challenging local government ballot initiatives.
- Assisted entrepreneur in establishing Florida real estate related business by navigating various regulatory hurdles they encountered and changing legislation that prevented them from conducting business in Florida.
- Drafted legislation and agency rules allowing use of coastal erosion protection product that mitigated hurricane damage.
- Representing Florida businesses in litigation over the award of State contracts, including transportation related contracts.
- Counsel to automobile manufacturers in franchise related litigation before the Department of Administrative Hearings.
Complex Commercial and Fiduciary Litigation
Kelly also represents distressed companies, creditors, receivers and government entities in bankruptcy, receivership, and related adversary proceedings. Her experience includes the following:
- Obtaining multi-million dollar settlement for fiduciary entity pursuing fraud claims against company officers on behalf of liquidated company.
- Representing debtors and unsecured creditors' committees in adversary litigation in bankruptcy proceedings, including representation of Creditors Committee in class action suit.
- Representing securities brokers and investors in securities fraud arbitrations and litigation, including one of the first cases against Bear Stearns challenging its procedure for valuation of mortgage-backed securities, which ultimately contributed to the company's downfall.
- Litigating mortgage fraud matters for some of the largest providers of mortgage services in the county.
- Representing consumer credit data repositories in antitrust litigation.
- Counsel to insurance companies in coverage disputes, including a case in which she defeated a competing insurer’s attempt to have her client’s procedures declared inconsistent with Florida law.
Professional & Community Involvement
- Capital City Bank Community Foundation Board, 2018-2021
- The Florida Bar, Florida Probate Rules Committee, 2017-2020
- Women United Steering Committee, 2017-Present
- Tallahassee Chamber, Board Member and Grow Business Committee Member, 2014-Present
- Tallahassee Regional Estate Planning Council, Member, 2014-Present
- Girl Scouts of the Florida Panhandle, Board Member, 2012-2015
- Florida Bar Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section, Member, 2010-Present
- Florida State University Real Estate Trends Networking Conference, Conference Committee Member, 2009-2012
- Florida Bar, Second Circuit Grievance Committee, 2011-2014; Chair, 2013-2014
- Florida Supreme Court Historical Society, 2010-Present; President 2015-2017; Vice President, 2014-2015
- Florida Bar Judicial Administration & Evaluation Committee, 2010-Present; Chair, 2014-2015
- Florida Bar Foundation Fellow
- Florida Bar Appellate Rules Committee, 2004-2010; Vice Chair Administrative Practice Subcommittee, 2007-2010
- Tallahassee Bar Association, 2000-Present; President, 2009-2010; President-Elect, 2008-2009; Treasurer, 2007-2008; Secretary, 2006-2007; Director, 2002-2006
- Legal Aid Foundation, 2000-Present
- Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Tallahassee Class XXV, 2007-Present
- Florida State University Law School Alumni Board, Outreach Chair, 2006-2009
- William H. Stafford American Inn of Court, 2002-Present
- Tallahassee Women Lawyers, 1995-Present; President, 1999-2000
- Guardian Ad Litem, 2000-Present
- Attorney Coach of Lincoln High School Mock Trial and Moot Court Teams, 1996-Present
- Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors, Second Circuit Representative, 2001-2006; Executive Committee Member, 2004-2006
- Chair, Robert Orsek Memorial Moot Court Competition, 2006
- Florida Bar Special Committee on Website Advertising Rules, 2005-2006
- Florida Bar Advertising Task Force, 2004-2005
- Florida Bar Judicial Administration, Selection and Tenure Committee, 2000-2002
- Florida Association for Women Lawyers, 1998-Present; Secretary, 2000-2001; Public Relations Officer, 1998-1999
- First 150 Florida Women Lawyers Project: Co-Chair Research Committee, 1999-2000
- Volunteer, Legal Services of North Florida, Legal Intake at Homeless Shelter and Legal Advice Clinic, 1994-2000
- Chief Justice’s Advisory Committee for the Tobias Simon Pro Bono Award, 2001
- 25 Women You Need to Know, Tallahassee Democrat, 2019
- Martindale-Hubbell, AV® Preeminent™ rated
- The Best Lawyers in America®, 2017-2019
- Florida Super Lawyers, Business Litigation, 2013-2018; Administrative Law, 2014; Appellate Practice, 2006; Estate & Trust Lit, 2019
- Florida Trend's Florida Legal Elite, Commercial Litigation, 2010-2018; Up and Comer, 2007
- Women of Distinction, Gemstone Honoree, Law, Girl Scout Council of the Florida Panhandle, 2011
- Florida Association for Women Lawyers Leaders in Law Award, 2010
- Attorney of the Year Award, The Florida Law Related Education Association 2005
- Lynn Futch Most Productive Young Lawyer Award, The Florida Bar, 2001
Publications & Presentations
Women and Wealth - Through the Stages of Life
Professional Women's Forum|April 2019
Publications, Recent News Updates:
Upcoming Vote on Amendment 10 Ensures Florida's County Constitutional Officers Are Elected Locally
Tallahassee|Stearns Weaver Miller News Update |October 2018
Probate Litigation 101: The Nuts and Bolts
Pincus Professional Education Seminar|April 2018
Election Law Primer for Candidates, Campaign Consultants and Staff | Free Webinar
Who Runs The World?
Election & Political Law Report |September 2017
Launching Your Campaign | Women Can Run
The Oasis Center for Women & Girls|September 2017
Predicting, Preventing and When Necessary….Preparing for Will Contests
Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys|December 2016
Is Your Discretionary Trust Subject to Garnishment? Maybe...
Doing Business in Florida|November 2015
In the Media:
25 Women: Lawyer Kelly O'Keefe aims to help people 'move mountains'
Tallahassee Democrat |March 2019
In the Media:
Congratulations to the 2019 25 Women you Need to Know and 5 Young Women to Watch
Tallahassee Democrat|February 2019
Stearns Weaver Miller Lawyers Recognized in Florida Super Lawyers 2018
Kelly O'Keefe Appointed to Capital City Bank Community Board
In the Media:
Judge Refuses to Dismiss Matching Gifts Case Involving College Donations
Stearns Weaver Miller Lawyers Recognized in Florida Super Lawyers 2017
Stearns Weaver Miller Lawyers Recognized in Florida Super Lawyers 2016
In the Media:
Personnel Note: Stearns Weaver Miller adds attorneys in Tallahassee, Miami, Tampa
Florida Politics|June 2016