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Karen Killalea

Email Icon Send an email T: +353 1 619 2037 M: +353 86 046 2207


Karen is head of Maples and Calder's Employment team in the Maples Group's Dublin office. She has over 20 years’ experience advising clients on all aspects of employment law including contractual matters, sensitive investigations, employee privacy issues, GDPR, gender pay gap preparation, TUPE, HR aspects of corporate re-structuring and asset disposals, industrial relations, working time, equality issues, executive compensation, removal of directors and senior executives and the protection of confidential information. Karen’s recent cases include securing court orders to prevent the theft of confidential information, restraining a team move and defending a High Court challenge to the suspension and investigation of a senior employee. She regularly represents clients before the WRC and the courts and has extensive experience of successful mediation and dispute resolution.


Karen joined the Maples Group as a Partner and Head of the Employment team in 2019. Previously, she was a partner with a large Irish corporate law firm. Before that, Karen worked for Linklaters in their Rome office. She has been ranked and recommended by independent legal directories:

"Practical, commercially focused and always available as a sounding board. She keeps to the point and does not mess around with unnecessary costly time."  (Chambers Europe 2023)

"She's excellent, calm and detailed. She explains things clearly, making the items easy for us to understand."  (Chambers Europe 2023)

"Outstanding employment lawyer – very knowledgeable, commercial and level-headed."  (Legal 500 EMEA 2023)

"Her quality of being focused and professionalism. She runs her team with obvious ease of practice and experienced mentoring."  (Legal 500 EMEA 2023)

’‘Emblematic of everything Maples aspires to be. She is singularly and distinctively impressive."  (Legal 500 EMEA 2023)

’‘Excellent at her work. She is highly responsive and meets the deadlines she sets forth. Her turnaround times are surprisingly quick, and come prepared with sample scripts, forms and other advice that advances the matter much further."  (Legal 500 EMEA 2023)

"She has excellent knowledge in all areas of employment law."  (Chambers Europe 2022)

"Exceptional throughout my engagement. Karen was thorough, took instruction superbly and was very transparent from the outset managing my expectations. Karen showed genuine empathy and excellent emotional intelligence in her dealings with me. She was very accessible and direct to ensure my case moved along swiftly. Karen did a great job in outlining my options for instruction, the risks associated with each and also the likely thinking of the opposing side. I could not recommend Karen and Maples enough."  (The Legal 500 EMEA 2021)

"Always super responsive and provides excellent, commercially savvy advice in all situations."  (The Legal 500 EMEA 2021)

"She is able to bring the issue down to very simple terms. She tries to get matters resolved amicably each time."  (Chambers Europe 2021)

"Uses her immense experience of and expertise in employment law to advise and direct her clients as specifically as she can."  (Chambers Europe 2020) 

"Her ability to understand issues and explain our options in a clear and concise manner has had a major impact."  (Chambers Europe 2020)

“Has a can-do attitude and an exceptional level of service.”  (Chambers Europe 2017)

“Strong experience across employment law issues, including sensitive employment litigation and transactional work. Very practical and responsive, and really knowledgeable of the employment sector.”  (Chambers Europe 2016)

“An experienced employment law specialist and litigator, clear, pragmatic and well prepared.”  (Chambers Europe 2015)

“Provides trustworthy advice and direction.”  (Who’s Who Legal 2017)


  • Chair of the Irish Funds Individual Accountability Working Group (2023)
  • Co-chair on the Irish Funds HR & Talent Working Group
  • Member of the IBA Employment and Equality Committee Industry Group
  • Member of the Law Society of Ireland Employment & Equality Committee
  • Chair of the Maples Group Diversity & Inclusion Committee




1999 – Admitted as a solicitor in Ireland

2000 – Admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales (non-practising)


Université de Poitiers, France 1992-1993 (Erasmus)

Trinity College Dublin 1990-1994 LL.B

University of Edinburgh 1995-1996 LL.M

Karen is a fluent Italian speaker


The Irish Employment Law Podcast
Insights on specific areas of employment law, examines recent cases and developments and summarises the key points for employers in Ireland


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