P. Jerome Richey Named University Of Pittsburgh’s General Counsel

Issue Date: 
February 4, 2013

P. Jerome Richey—who has built a distinguished legal career, first as a partner in a prominent Pittsburgh-based law firm and then in leading the law department of one of the region’s major corporations, CONSOL Energy—will become the University of Pittsburgh’s general counsel effective March 1, Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg announced on Jan. 30. In his new 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, the University’s chief business officer. 

“The fact that we combined two key executive functions—those of the chief business officer and those of the chief legal officer—under Jerry Cochran is a testament to his unique set of talents, was responsive to the expressed needs of the principal consumers of legal services within the University, and has worked extremely well,” said Nordenberg. “However, we always knew that we would need to separate those functions at some future date, and the opportunity to recruit someone with Jerry Richey’s experience, strength, and stature to our senior leadership team made this the right time to act. 

“This shift in responsibilities also 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,” Nordenberg added. “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.” 

Richey earned both his undergraduate degree, a BA in philosophy, and his law degree, a JD with honors, from the University of Pittsburgh. He began his career in private practice in 1974 with the firm of Moorhead & Knox, which merged into Buchanan Ingersoll, now known as Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, in 1981. His primary areas of practice were commercial litigation, employment counseling and litigation, governance, and internal investigations. He also was the primary legal ethics advisor to Buchanan Ingersoll. 

In 2005, Richey moved to CONSOL Energy as general counsel and corporate secretary. In 2007, he was promoted to the position of senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, and in 2009, he was promoted to the position of 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. 

In commenting on his return to his alma mater, Richey said, “Pitt always has been a very important institution to me, and, particularly in recent years, it has been one of the major engines of progress for this entire region, which has been my lifetime home. I welcome the opportunity to assume this new role, which positions me to help the University maximize its impact in both education and research. I also look forward to joining a leadership team that already has taken the University to new levels of accomplishment and that has been able to maintain Pitt’s ongoing momentum, even in difficult times.” 

The recipient of many honors, Richey has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus by Pitt’s School of Law and as a Letterwinner of Distinction by the University’s Varsity Letter Club. He 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 also 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. 

Active in the community, Richey currently serves as president of the board of the Epilepsy Foundation of Western and Central Pennsylvania, as board chair of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, and as a member of the board of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. He has served as a member of the boards of the Allegheny County Parks Foundation, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the University’s Varsity Letterwinner’s Club, and he is past board chair of the Southminster Presbyterian Church and the Pittsburgh Experiment. He also has served as a suicide hotline counselor for Contact Pittsburgh. 

Richey is widely regarded as one of the best distance runners ever to compete at Pitt. While a Pitt student-athlete, he was a two-time NCAA champion, earned recognition as an NCAA All American five times, was a sub-four-minute miler, and was part of a world-record-setting distance medley relay team. His name is engraved in the walk between Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning and Heinz Chapel as the outstanding student-athlete in his undergraduate class. 

Richey is married to Cynthia K. Richey, who earned both her undergraduate degree, a BA in English writing, and her graduate degree, a Master of Library Science, from Pitt. She is a nationally renowned librarian who has chaired the prestigious Newbery Award Selection Committee and has received the New York Times Librarian Award. She also has received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pitt’s School of Information Sciences and was honored as a Legacy Laureate by the University as a part of Pitt’s 2012 homecoming celebration. 

The University’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, all of whom have developed areas of special expertise, 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. Their subject matter involvements reflect the breadth of the University’s activities, including athletics compliance, construction and other commercial contracts, employment issues, environmental regulation, international initiatives, philanthropic and other financial documents, student discipline, research integrity, and technology transfer.