Michele A. Whitham

Retired Partner - Boston

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Michele Whitham is both the former Co-Managing Partner of Foley Hoag LLP and a widely respected employment law practitioner, recognized for her accomplishments by Chambers USA, Martindale Hubbell (AV Preeminent), and Massachusetts and New England SuperLawyers. Among her particular specialties is workplace and corporate data security and privacy.

Michele represents employers in every aspect of the employment relationship, including designing cutting-edge employment policies and practices, advising with regard to workplace issues as they arise, and resolving employment disputes using an array of dispute resolution modalities. She also advises global businesses in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia/Pacific on strategic human resource issues.

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  • Cornell Law School, J.D., Order of the Coif, 1988
  • Cornell University, M.S. in Human Development, 1987
  • Cornell University, M.A.T. in Education, 1971
  • Cornell University, B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, College Scholar, cum laude, 1970

Representative Experience

  • Founder and co-chair of the Privacy and Data Security practice group
  • Advises internationally on strategic HR planning for global businesses (including in Canada, China, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Sweden, Uganda and the United Kingdom)
  • Manages since 2009 Foley Hoag's relationship with Lex Mundi, a leading international association of independent law firms
  • Represents organizations in the technology, financial and education sectors
  • Facilitates workforce management for international companies inbound to and outbound from the US
  • Practices in Massachusetts, New England and nationally (having litigated cases and advised on matters in, for example, Massachusetts, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia)


  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Employment Law - Management (2016)
  • Ranked by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business as one of Massachusetts’ leading employment lawyers (since 2006) 
  • Massachusetts Super Lawyers and New England Super Lawyers (since 2004) (top 5% of attorneys in Massachusetts) 
  • Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel Edition (2008-2011) 
  • Super Lawyers Business Edition (2011) 
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Peer Rating since 2005 (highest ranking of professional excellence, skill and integrity) 
  • Selected to Inaugural Edition of Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Women Lawyers (2011) and AV Preeminent Lawyers (since 2013)
  • Selected as one of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly's Top Women in the Law, demonstrating outstanding accomplishments in social justice, advocacy and business (September, 2011) 
  • Nominated for 2011 Mentor of the Year Award by Massachusetts Bar Association and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly for launching inaugural Women Bar Association's Women's Leadership Initiative 
  • Selected as one of Boston's Top 10 Corporate Lawyers, Women's Business Boston (2010) 
  • Recipient of the Boston Chamber of Commerce’s Pinnacle Award for Achievement in the Professions (2007) 
  • As Managing Partner, selected as one of Boston’s Top 10 Bosses, Women’s Business Boston (2006) 
  • Recipient of the William Lloyd Garrison Partner in Abolitionism Award, presented in 2004 by the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance “for your resolute endurance in creatively serving homeless people”
  • Subject of Learning to Serve: Promoting Civil Society Through Service Learning (Outreach Scholarship Services - Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002), noting that, from 1978-1988, among a group "of noteworthy pioneers in service learning" at Cornell University
  • Subject in 1999 of a United States Department of Justice film that profiled, among others, a case in which she assisted the Commonwealth’s United States Attorney achieve the first conviction since the Civil War of a violator of the anti-slavery amendment to the United States Constitution and won for the victim in a companion civil suit hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime compensation 
  • Subject of Common Fire: Lives of Commitment in a Complex World (Beacon Press, 1996), which explores how individuals sustain a commitment to the common good (based upon work as lecturer at Cornell University's Field and International Study Program, 1976-1988) 

Involvement - Legal/Professional 

  • Lex Mundi, Director (2013-2015)
  • Counsel, MITRE Advanced Cyber Security Center, and Member of Steering and Policy Committees (since founding in 2011) 
  • American Bar Association, Member 
  • Boston Bar Foundation Society of Fellows (since 2011)
  • Massachusetts Bar Association, Member 
  • Unified Court System of the State of New York, served for many years as Senior Trainer for the Community Dispute Resolution Program

Involvement - Professional/Community

  • National Association of Professional Women (since June, 2015); 2015-2016 Professional Woman of the Year Inductee, VIP Woman of the Year Circle
  • Worldwide Registry (since June, 2015)
  • The Partnership, Inc., Director (since May, 2014)
  • International/Massachusetts Women’s Forum (selected to membership in 2005, MWF Treasurer 2006-2012, Liaison to Tomorrow's Women Today 2006-2013, MWF President 2013-2014)
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board ("PRIM"), Member of Administration and Audit Committee and Chair of Compensation Committee (since 2011) 
  • Wentworth Institute of Technology, Trustee and Member of Audit and Trusteeship Committees (since 2010)  
  • Goddard College, Trustee, Member of Executive, Finance and Personnel, and Institutional Advancement Committees (2003-2011)
  • Fundraising Co-Chair, The BNN Charles J. Beard II Media Center, Egleston Square, Boston (2006-2007)
  • President's Counsel of Cornell Women (selected July 1, 2006)    
  • Heading Home (formerly Shelter, Inc.), Director Emeritus 2010 - present; President, 2003 and 2004; Executive Committee, 2002-2010; Director since 1999 (organization providing permanent housing for homeless families)
  • Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (since 2003)
  • Active in community fund raising efforts, including co-chairing various fundraising events for public service organizations
  • Regular sponsor and host committee chair or member of community events (including Big in Boston November 2013, History & Innovation Awards)
  • Frequent speaker at employment law and privacy and security law seminars
  • Regularly conducts trainings for clients on employment and privacy and security law subjects
  • Regular contributor on employment law subjects
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Bar Admissions

  • Massachusetts

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals First Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts