Irish Legal 100


HELEN P. O’Reilly is general counsel for The Fresh Air Fund in New York City. Since its founding in 1877, The Fresh Air Fund has provided life-changing summer experiences for children from New York City’s underserved communities.

O’Reilly joined The Fund as its first in-house counsel in 2020. She started her career in the non-profit sector working for three years at Advocates for Children of New York. She then moved to Manila, Philippines and then to Hong Kong, where she worked on advocacy efforts to improve the working conditions of domestic workers.

After law school, O’Reilly worked as a law clerk to the Honorable John Gleeson on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and to the Honorable Barrington D. Parker on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, before joining the firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler.

While at Patterson Belknap, she focused primarily on employment advising and complex commercial litigation. She also maintained a thriving pro bono practice representing, among others, a young man in his successful petition for executive clemency from then-President Barack Obama.

In 2010, O’Reilly was among 30 people to receive a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, which honors the contributions that immigrants and the children of immigrants have made to shaping America.

O’Reilly earned a BS in international politics from Georgetown University, and a JD from Yale Law School, where she was the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow for New Americans, and editor of the Yale Law and Policy Review.

Married with three children, Ian, Thomas and Eileen, O’Reilly’s mother is a native of Co. Kerry. Her father came from Co. Clare. Her favorite summer memories as a child involved spending a week every summer either in Ireland or in the Catskill Mountains in East Durham, New York.





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