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February 7, 2013

Pitt hires new general counsel

Richey, Jerry

P. Jerome Richey

P. Jerome Richey, CONSOL Energy’s chief legal officer and executive vice-president, will take over as Pitt’s general counsel effective March 1.

In his position as the University’s chief legal officer, Richey will succeed Jerome Cochran, who has served Pitt in the dual role of executive vice chancellor and general counsel since 2004. Cochran will continue to serve as executive vice chancellor.

Richey earned a BA in philosophy and a JD with honors from Pitt.

He began his career in 1974 with the firm of Moorhead & Knox, which merged into Buchanan Ingersoll, now known as Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. His primary areas of practice were commercial litigation, employment counseling and litigation, governance and internal investigations. He also was the primary legal ethics adviser to Buchanan Ingersoll.

In 2005, Richey moved to CONSOL Energy as general counsel and corporate secretary. In 2007, he was promoted to senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, and in 2009, he was promoted to chief legal officer and executive vice president. In that latter role, he continued to have principal responsibility for the legal affairs of the corporation and also was responsible for management of its environmental, government relations, human resources and public relations departments. At the beginning of this year, he was given a new set of responsibilities as executive vice president-corporate projects.

Richey is an elected fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Attorneys and was an elected member of the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County.

He has taught employment litigation in Pitt’s School of Law as an adjunct professor and has spoken and written, locally and nationally, on such subjects as legal ethics, trade secrets and employment litigation.

Richey has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus by the School of Law and as a Letterwinner of Distinction by the University’s Varsity Letter Club. While a distance runner at Pitt, he was a two-time NCAA champion, earned recognition as an NCAA All-American five times, was a sub-4-minute miler, and was part of a world-record-setting distance medley relay team. His name is engraved on the walk between Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning and Heinz Chapel as the outstanding student-athlete in his undergraduate class.

Pitt’s Office of General Counsel includes 12 lawyers, the University’s research integrity officer, and 10 other employees, including three paralegals. The attorneys in the office are responsible for preparing and reviewing University contracts, structuring and assisting with a wide range of oversight activities, representing the University in legal proceedings, supervising outside counsel and providing legal advice to the University.

In a prepared statement, Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg said: “This shift in responsibilities will permit Jerry Cochran to focus on the University’s increasingly complex array of business needs as we continue to move through financially challenging times. The unusual stability within our senior management team has been a true institutional asset, but we also do need to make periodic adjustments that better position us to meet the changing needs of a difficult environment.”

In announcing the new general counsel at the Jan. 30 Senate council meeting, the chancellor praised and thanked Cochran for his service as general counsel.

“Jerry has been shouldering the responsibilities of two very important positions simultaneously: executive vice chancellor or chief business officer, and general counsel or chief legal officer.

“Either one of those roles would be enough to break most people but Jerry has marched forward for nine years, shouldering both loads and he still is standing tall. We always did know at some point in time we were going to need to revert to a more traditional organizational structure.

“Jerry and I have been talking about this more frequently for the past year or year and a half and our ability to recruit Jerry Richey made this the right time to make that move.

“But when Jerry Cochran begins to focus on just one set of responsibilities come March 1, I think many of us are going to be even more inclined to ask how did he ever do them both and do them so well.”

Kimberly K. Barlow contributed to this story.

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