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Thomas Kelly is of counsel in the New York office of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. He is a former Chair for the Americas of the firm’s Insurance Industry Group and has represented insurance companies in a broad range of capital markets and M&A transactions. Chambers USA (2023) recommends Mr. Kelly as a leading insurance transactional and regulatory lawyer. In previous editions of the guide, clients have described him as “sharp, insightful and resourceful.” They also note that he is “well respected,” a “standout attorney,” “practical, knowledgeable and insightful,” and praise his “stellar reputation,” reporting that he is “extremely intellectually focused and very diligent.” He has acted as company counsel on several of the major U.S. life insurer demutualizations and was named a 2002 “Dealmaker of the Year” by The American Lawyer for his work on the IPO and demutualization of Principal Financial Group.

Mr. Kelly is chair of the Insurance Law Committee of the New York State Bar Association, is chair of the Corporate Section of the Association of Life Insurance Counsel, has served as a member of the Insurance Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and was a major contributor to the book Modern Investment Management and the Prudent Man Rule (Oxford University Press 1986), written by Debevoise partner Bevis Longstreth. Mr. Kelly is a member of the board of directors of The Royal Oak Foundation.

Mr. Kelly is the co-author of numerous articles, including “Federal Reserve Publishes Advance Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking On Capital Requirements For Insurers,” FC&S Legal (July, 2016); “Federal Reserve Proposes Enhanced Prudential Standards For Insurance SIFIs,” FC&S Legal (July, 2016); “Developments At The NAIC Spring Meeting,” Parts 1–3, Law360 (April–May, 2016); “Report On The NAIC 2015 Summer National Meeting,” FC&S Legal (November, 2015); “NAIC Begins To Develop A Group Capital Measure For U.S. Insurance Enterprises,” FC&S Legal (August, 2015); “NAIC 2015 Spring National Meeting,” Insurance Coverage Law Report (May/June, 2015); “IAIS Issues Consultation On Global Insurance Capital Standard,” Canadian Insurance Regulation Reporter (February, 2015); “Takeaways From The 21st Annual IAIS Conference,” Law360 (November, 2014); “Rector-Modified Recommendations to NAIC Task Force on Financing of XXX and AXXX Reserves,” FC&S Legal (August, 2014); “Citing Private Equity Concerns, New York Department of Financial Services Proposes Increased Scrutiny and Disclosure for Acquisitions of New York Domestic and Commercially Domiciled Insurers,” FC&S Legal (June, 2014); and “Report on the NAIC 2014 Spring National Meeting,” FC&S Legal’s “Eye on the Experts” blog (April, 2014). 

Mr. Kelly joined the firm in 1984 and became a partner in 1993. He received his A.B. cum laude from Columbia University in 1979 and his J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1983, where he was a member of the Harvard Law Review. Mr. Kelly served as a law clerk to the Hon. Eugene H. Nickerson, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, from 1983 to 1984.


  • Harvard Law School, 1983, J.D.
  • Columbia University, 1979, A.B.

Bar Admissions

  • New York