Kelly Frye Barnett


  • Overview


    Kelly Barnett represents clients in government and internal investigations, and in all aspects of complex civil litigation. She is a member of Robinson+Cole’s Business Litigation Group.

    Government and Internal Investigations

    Kelly assists public and private institutions and companies which are the subject of probes by government agencies. As a member of the firm’s Government Investigations, Corporate Compliance + Criminal Defense Team, she represents businesses and individuals in civil and criminal investigations by local, state and federal authorities, such as state attorneys general, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, and local law enforcement. Kelly works with clients to help ensure they are in compliance with various local, state, and federal laws and regulations, and defends them if they are the targets of government enforcement actions.

    Kelly conducts investigations for clients on a variety of matters, such as allegations of financial wrongdoing, regulatory non-compliance, or employee misconduct. She has considerable experience investigating alleged historic sexual abuse. She recently conducted an internal investigation for a nonprofit private school in Connecticut into claims that former faculty members engaged in sexual misconduct decades ago.

    Kelly also has experience representing clients in criminal cases in Connecticut state courts, including conducting investigations, performing legal research, preparing pleadings, coordinating diversionary programs, arguing pretrial motions, and setting an agenda for each court appearance at every stage of the case, including bond argument, arraignment, pretrial discussions, trial, and sentencing.

    Employee and Group Benefits Litigation

    Kelly handles claims, litigation, and appeals related to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), group welfare benefits, pension benefits, health insurance, disability insurance, and life insurance coverage.

    General Complex Litigation

    Kelly assists clients with complex litigation related to a variety of disputes, from business and financial matters to those involving intellectual property. She is a member of the firm’s Appellate Team, e-Discovery Team, and Intellectual Property Litigation Team.

    Kelly has a record of securing results for her clients, such as winning a complete motion to dismiss in a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration, resolving the matter within six months.

    Pro Bono

    Kelly has devoted significant time to the representation of pro bono clients, including managing and participating in the firm's Domestic Violence Restraining Order program, which provides free legal services to victims of domestic violence who are seeking restraining orders. She was also part of a team of firm attorneys who helped religious organizations secure a special permit for the continued operation of a soup kitchen and food pantry in southern Connecticut to help the poor, in spite of opposition from the local municipality.

    Kelly is a member of the firm’s Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team, and she regularly contributes to the firm’s Data Privacy + Security Insider blog.

  • Experience
    • Experience


      • Won complete motion to dismiss in hotly contested Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration, resolving matter for client in less than six months. FINRA panel granted motion to dismiss, agreeing that client was not associated with the securities in question, had no contact with the claimant, and had no supervisory responsibilities with respect to the sale of the securities at issue.

      • Conducted internal investigation for Connecticut nonprofit educational institution regarding allegations of historical sexual misconduct by former faculty members. 

      • Represented a commercial property insurer in a federal lawsuit arising from the denial of eight separate claims across five of the insured’s supermarkets. The insured's claims, which involved losses allegedly caused by Hurricane Irene, power interruption, and copper thefts, were denied on summary judgment on the grounds that the damages claimed were fraudulently inflated and exacerbated by the actions of the insured. Thereafter, on the eve of trial, we were able to resolve the case through settlement on terms that were extremely favorable to our client.

    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      American Bar Association

      Connecticut Bar Association

      National Bar Association

      George W. Crawford Black Bar Association
    • Honors + Awards

      Honors + Awards

      Selected as a Rising Star to the Connecticut Super Lawyers list for 2017 and 2018.

      Named to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) First 100 Plus Class of 2018 for demonstrating leadership and commitment to improving the lives of domestic violence survivors throughout Connecticut.

    • Community Involvement

      Community Involvement

      YWCA Hartford Region
      Board of Directors
    • Publications


      "Lessons Learned from the First Volkswagen Indictment," published in Connecticut Law Tribune, co-authored with Edward J. Heath (10/3/2016)
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    • Presentations


      "Debating Fundamentals," co-presented with Christie D. Jean, at the 2016 Young Women's Leadership Corporation (YWLC) Summer Institute, a teaching and training course of study sponsored by the YWCA Hartford Region (7/14, 7/21, and 8/4/2016)
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    • News

      R+C in the News

      • October 30, 2018

        Kelly Frye Barnett, Christie Jean, and Je'Quana Orr Among Presenters at NEBLSA Connecticut Academic Retreat

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      • October 24, 2018

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Attend Interval House's Annual Breakfast With Champions

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      • October 18, 2018

        51 Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

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      • May 10, 2018

        Kelly Barnett and Dan Brody Present Training for Attorneys Looking to Assist Victims of Domestic Violence

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      • April 23, 2018

        Kelly Barnett, Dan Brody, and Nuala Droney Help Prepare Victims of Domestic Violence to Testify at Hearings

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      • April 3, 2018

        Kelly Frye Barnett Honored During 100 Women of Color Gala

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      • March 30, 2018

        Robinson+Cole Domestic Violence Restraining Order Program Featured in ABA Newsletter

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      • October 7, 2016

        Ed Heath and Kelly Barnett Pen Article for the Connecticut Law Tribune

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      • August 5, 2016

        Hartford Lawyers Teach about Leadership at YWLC Summer Institute

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      • June 6, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Sponsors George W. Crawford Black Bar Association's 2016 Annual Dinner

      • March 8, 2016

        Land Use Lawyers Negotiate Settlement Allowing Soup Kitchen to Remain Open

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      • November 12, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Hosts Domestic Violence Restraining Order Program for Lawyers

      • August 5, 2015

        Business Litigation Lawyers Successfully Represent Clients Through DVRO Program

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      R+C News Releases

      • November 12, 2018

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers and Staff Named to CCADV’s First 100 Plus Class of 2018

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      • October 17, 2017

        Robinson+Cole Lawyers Recognized by Super Lawyers®

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      • February 29, 2016

        Kelly Frye Barnett Elected to YWCA Hartford Region’s Board of Directors

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      • October 9, 2015

        Robinson+Cole Lawyer Elected to Children’s Law Center Board of Directors

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      • December 11, 2014

        Robinson+Cole Welcomes New Lawyers