Pamela Wilkins Connelly

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

Biography

Pamela Wilkins Connelly, a Shareholder at Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky, is an experienced civil litigator, employment lawyer, and an education lawyer with the unique experience of having served as an executive administrator and in-house litigation counsel at a large public university for nearly 18 years.

Described by her clients as “fearless, focused and fierce, she is a trusted advisor through times of crisis.  Pam earned a Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Rating AV® Pre-eminent in the field of litigation and higher education law.  Entrusted time and again with complex, high risk and high publicity matters, Pam 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.

For nearly two decades, Pam represented, or held an executive role at, the University of Pittsburgh, a multi-campus public university.  She provided counsel in all phases of litigation in state and federal court, including employment, discrimination, and commercial disputes, as well as, tort cases. She also provided advice and counsel to the university on a wide range of legal issues including academic and conduct research, student contracts, discrimination, constitutional and privacy.  Pam has deep experience in Title IX, the ADA/Rehabilitation Act, First Amendment law.

Pam advises and defends educational 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.

She also provides advice on labor and employment matters, including employee discipline and separation and issues involving board governance.

In her previous role as Vice Chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh, responsibilities included the development, oversight and coordination of university-wide efforts relating to Institutional Equity, Title IX (sexual misconduct), Affirmative Action, and Digital Accessibility.

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
      Labor and Employment Section, member

Community Activities

  • Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures, Board member 2018-present, Executive Committee member, Governance Committee member, and Secretary

From Our Blog

Recognition & Awards

Education

  • J.D., University of Pittsburgh, 1995
  • B.A., Pennsylvania State University, 1992

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