Pamela Wilkins Connelly

Shareholder
P:(412) 281-5423   or   (412) 227-0265
F:(412) 281-8264
E:pconnelly@smgglaw.com

Biography

Pamela W. Connelly came to Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky (SMGG) after serving as an executive administrator and in-house litigation counsel at the University of Pittsburgh for 18 years. In addition to her rich experience in higher education, Ms. Connelly is a seasoned litigator, advises on employment matters, including employee discipline and separation, as well as issues involving institutional policies and board governance.

Described by her clients as “fearless, focused, and fierce,” Ms. Connelly is a trusted advisor through times of crisis. Entrusted time and again with complex, high risk and high publicity matters, Ms. Connelly has deep experience and an insider’s perspective in advising on a wide array of legal issues with a goal of providing mission-based and value driven results.

During her time as a vice chancellor at a large public research university, Ms. Connelly focused on the development, oversight, and coordination of university-wide efforts relating to Institutional Equity, Title IX (sexual misconduct), Civil Rights, and Digital Accessibility. As the University’s litigation counsel for over a decade, she was lead counsel in all a wide variety of state and federal court cases, including breach of contract, employment, discrimination, commercial disputes, injunctions, as well as tort cases.

Pam advises and defends institutions on matters affecting daily operations and compliance with federal and state laws as well as best practices. Pam provides counsel to institutions on the creation of internal policies, systems, and practices designed to minimize legal exposure and conducts internal investigations into employee misconduct, student misconduct, and #MeToo allegations of historic sexual abuse.

Outside of her legal practice, Pam is passionate about live music, civil rights and engagement, and support of the arts. She lives in Mt. Lebanon with her two children.

Experience and Representative Matters

  • Designed and implemented Title IX compliance programs

  • Defended and successfully resolved Title IX and sexual misconduct claims

  • Successfully defended university in federal wrongful discharge case by Division I Head football coach

  • Successfully defended university in multi-jurisdictional research fraud case

  • Successfully defended tenure denial cases in federal court

  • Designed the processes and system for degree revocation

  • Handled defense of governmental complaints, including Office of Civil Rights complaints and Department of Energy audits, and OFCCP compliance reviews

  • Developed protocols on civil rights investigations

  • Led numerous internal investigations into a broad array of allegations

  • Developed protocols on handling free speech conflicts

  • Accomplished speaker on many issues impacting educational institutions, including issues of Title IX, conducting effective investigations, disabilities and accommodation, Free Speech and Due Process

Professional Affiliations

  • University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Adjunct Professor of Law teaching the Law of Higher Education
  • National Association of College and University Attorneys 2002-2020
  • Allegheny County Bar Association
      Federal Section Council, member
      Labor and Employment Section, member

Community Activities

  • Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corporation, Board Member
  • Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures
    • Board member 2018-present
    • Executive Committee member
    • Governance Committee member
    • Board Secretary
  • Penn State University, Beaver Campus, Advisory Board Member
  • Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania, Former Board Member

From Our Blog

Recognition & Awards

Education

  • J.D., University of Pittsburgh
  • B.A., Pennsylvania State University

Admissions

  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of West Virginia
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of West Virginia
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois