Ellen Mercer Fallon
Ellen began her practice with the firm in 1977 as its first female lawyer and became its first female partner in 1980. In 1985, she was tapped by Governor Madeleine M. Kunin to serve as the first female Counsel to the Governor. Since returning to the firm in 1987, her practice has spanned transactional and litigation matters in a broad range of subject areas.
In an increasingly impersonal world, Ellen has retained her commitment to strong client relationships, believing that good legal counsel should provide not only experience and expertise but also measured judgment and perspective, interest in the client’s business, and a willingness to engage in direct and straightforward communication of legal risks and options. Long-term clients consider her a deeply loyal counsellor, whose seasoned insight and consistent responsiveness can be trusted on a broad range of issues.
Ellen frequently works with businesses and organizations to prevent and assess risks and to efficiently resolve disputes. She draws on her experience working with CEOs and other managers to determine and pursue courses of action that free the organization to focus on core operations with limited disruption by legal concerns. A significant portion of her work has involved organizations facing major financial or other challenges, requiring a “triage” relationship between management and counsel. The same skills have been applied to individuals facing business or employment difficulties.
Ellen is called upon to draft a wide range of documents for businesses and individuals, including employment policies and handbooks; non-disclosure, non-compete and confidentiality agreements; executive employment agreements; severance agreements; independent contractor agreements; classification of exempt and non-exempt employees; corporate governance documents, shareholder agreements; supply contracts; and release and indemnity agreements. She provides sexual and other unlawful harassment training, investigations, and consulting, as well as manager training on a variety of human resources issues. She is a trained Title IX investigator and counsels parties involved in Title IX and college disciplinary proceedings. Ellen also brings her experience in state government to bear on campaign finance and other election-related matters, government regulation, and public records issues.
Ellen serves as a mediator for litigants in state and federal courts and has handled internal investigations for such government entities as police departments and the Public Service Board. She is a frequent speaker on a broad variety of topics, including human resources and employment law; corporate board best practices; higher education law; municipal law; trial practice; equine law; and legal ethics.
Ellen has been voted by her peers as among the Best Lawyers in America® in Employment Law - Individuals, Employment Law - Management, Litigation - Labor and Employment, and Commercial Litigation and was a Lawyer of the Year in 2016.
Representative clients include Goddard College, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Vermont Legal Aid, Vermont Center for Independent Living, Bread Loaf Corporation, Renewable NRG Systems, Roundtree Construction, Bennington Potters, the Estate of Pearl S. Buck, Vermont Psychiatric Survivors, Vermont School for Girls, and numerous other large and small businesses, non-profit organizations, and individuals. Ellen has a keen interest in education, higher education, and nonprofit organizations and has served as counsel to various colleges, schools, and nonprofits.
Ellen was the first woman to serve as president of the Vermont Bar Association, the first woman to serve Vermont in the American Bar Association House of Delegates, and the first woman to be elected a Vermont Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. In 1999 she was honored by the Governor’s Commission on Women with the “Making a Difference for Women” award.
Ellen served on the Board of Directors of the Vermont Business Roundtable, where she chaired the Governance Committee. She was a founding member of the Vermont Women’s Forum and of the National Association of Women’s Bar Associations. She is a former member of the Board of Trustees of Vermont Law School and serves on the Vermont Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She is a member of the Vermont Working Landscape Partnership, reflecting her long-term interest in agriculture, including representation of farmers in the apple, dairy and equine industries.
Ellen currently divides her time between the firm’s Middlebury and Burlington offices and lives in Hinesburg and Charlotte with her husband, lawyer Joseph Fallon. Her daughter Sarah is a lawyer in Middletown, CT. Her personal passion is horseback riding, and she enjoys summers living on the shores of Lake Champlain.
University of Pennsylvania Law School (J.D., 1977); Middlebury College (A.B., 1972)
Admitted to state and federal courts in Vermont
Vermont and American Bar Associations; American Bar Foundation (Fellow); National Association of College and University Attorneys; National Association of Women Lawyers; ABA Center for Professional Responsibility; Vermont Working Landscape Partnership