Patricia Hennessy Conrad O'Brien Header

Patricia A. Hennessy

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F: 215.864.0794

Patricia Hennessy brings to educational institutions and corporate America years of experience in the courtroom and the boardroom. Known for her ability to get to the heart of the matter quickly and thoroughly, clients praise her tremendous intellect and problem solving skills. She anticipates problems and counsels her clients how to avoid those problems before they happen. 

Patricia Hennessy brings to educational institutions and corporate America years of experience in the courtroom and the boardroom. Known for her ability to get to the heart of the matter quickly and thoroughly, clients praise her tremendous intellect and problem solving skills. She anticipates problems and counsels her clients how to avoid those problems before they happen. 

Pat began her career as assistant general counsel of Synthes (USA), an international manufacturer and distributor of orthopedic implant devices for fracture fixation, maxillofacial applications and treatment of spinal deformity, degeneration and fracture.  In addition, Pat advised management on a broad spectrum of legal issues including commercial law, employment, intellectual property, regulatory affairs, and healthcare law.  Pat was the primary attorney for Synthes Spine Company, L.P., overseeing the highly successful in-house claims process and defense of product liability lawsuits throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, working closely with biomedical engineers, bio-metallurgists, orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons in the defense of the product. 

Pat coordinated the company’s successful national defense of the In Re:  Orthopedic Bone Screw Litigation MDL 1014.  The company’s success resulted from a two-pronged approach by ensuring the denial of the class certification and then the systematic defeat of the resulting stand-alone claims by Motions for Summary Judgment or defense verdict. 

As one of the lead attorneys for a South Jersey manufacturing defendant, she successfully defeated class certification of a high profile mass tort class action litigation involving personal injury and medical monitoring claims for the residents of the City of Camden who consumed the city’s drinking water over a twenty-five year period.  After the defeat of the class certification, Pat was an integral part of a defense team that defeated the stand-alone claims via Motion for Summary Judgment. She also has experience with DES, Dalkon Shield, Breast Implant class action litigation.   

In addition to her work in the commercial and class action arenas, she is acknowledged as one of the top education lawyers in the country and is Co-Chair of the firm’s Education Law Group.  Her clients are charter schools, traditional public schools, private schools and institutions of higher education. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools and is a member of the Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys. 

On a daily basis, Pat advises school administrators and school boards on a variety of legal issues including:  School Code and Administrative Code compliance; commercial and employment litigation; student discipline, operations (including drafting operational policies and policy manuals); special education issues; contracts; accreditation and licensure of all administrative and teaching staff; federal legal issues (NCLB/ESEA, IDEA, Section 504, USDOE, Office of Civil Rights investigations, civil rights, anti-discrimination and constitutional issues) and other administrative matters.  She also provides training for school administrators and Boards as well as presenting at seminars for charter school related organizations and continuing legal education providers. 

As part of her practice, Pat regularly acts as an outside solicitor to public and charter school boards (brick and mortar/cyber) throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey.  She has appeared on behalf of schools at administrative hearings before the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Charter School Appeal Board, Office of Dispute Resolution, Office of Civil Rights, school district boards and charter school boards. 

For charter schools, Pat is one of the “go-to” lawyers who represents school applicants from soup-to-nuts—from the application drafting process through start-up operations. A Charter schools advocate and activist, Pat is involved in the national education reform movement through the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools having worked on projects on political subdivisions, and as a member of the ELL/ESL Workgroup. On a state level, Pat is active in legislative affairs on issues related to Pennsylvania School Code and education reform. 

Pat was born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia and is a trained soprano, who sang soprano in the Collegiate Choir of the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.  She graduated from Nazareth Academy High School.  

Speeches and Presentations

Educator Misconduct: How to Handle Claims Against Educators: From Allegation Through Litigation, Education Law Association 62nd Annual Conference
November 2016, Orlando, FL

Understanding the School Landscape in a Transgender World, Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools, Bi-Annual Conference
October 2016, Episcopal Academy, Newtown Square, PA

Educator Misconduct: How to Handle Claims Against Educators:  From Allegation Through Litigation, Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools, Bi-Annual Conference
October 2016, Episcopal Academy, Newtown Square, PA

"Love Train"...Everything You Wanted to Know About Philadelphia Chartering...and Then Some, National Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys Conference, Philadelphia, PA, September 2016

What is Special About Special Education?
September 2016; Special Education Rights and Responsibilities Conference; Fox Rothschild Center for Law and Society; Community College of Philadelphia

Philadelphia:  A Case Study (with Robert O’Donnell)
April 2016:   Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys’ Conference, Phoenix, AZ

Statewide Authorizer Assault:  Are Opponents Taking Aim…Or Are District Authorizers Embracing Their Authority?" (with Dan Woodring and Lisa Scruggs)
April 2016:   Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys’ Conference, Phoenix, AZ

Special Education Compliance: Best Practices to Avoid Due Process Pitfalls
March 2016:  Keystone Alliance of Public Charter Schools, Hershey, Pennsylvania

Charter Schools in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Bar Institute
February 2016: Charter Application Process in Pennsylvania; Presenter and Author

Educator Misconduct: How to Handle Claims Against Educators, From The Allegation Through Litigation, Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools Inaugural Boarding Schools Conference, November 2015

Accessing District Space, National Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys Conference, Seattle WA, September 2015 

The Inequity of Authorizer Imposed Enrollment Caps, National Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys Conference, Seattle, WA, September 2015

Mandatory Reporting in a Post-Sandusky World, Featured Speaker, Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools Bi-Annual Conference, October 2014

An Introduction to the Family Medical Leave Act, The Reschini Group, October 2014

Legal Fundamentals for Non-Profit Boards, Community College Non-Profit Institute, April 2014

Governing in the Cloud:  Effective Governance of Virtual Charter Schools, National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, Co-Presentation with Parker Baxter, National Association of Charter School Authorizer, Annual National Conference, Washington, D.C., July 2013 

Serving Your Virtual Clients:  What Virtual Providers Want to Know, National Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys, Semi-Annual Meeting, Stanford Law School, Palo Alto, CA, May 2013 

Live ListServePresentations on Status of Pennsylvania Charter School Law,Enrollment Cap Litigation and Financial Crisis of the School District of Philadelphia, National Alliance of Public Charter School Attorneys, Semi-Annual Meeting, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA, October 2011; Semi-Annual Meeting, Loyola University Chicago Law School, Chicago, IL, September 2013 

What A Deal Or Is It?  Is An Existing Building the Best Home for Your New School?, Pennsylvania Association of Public Charter Schools, Annual Conference – Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Presented with Kitchen Associates, Architects and Civil Engineers & John F. Swoyer, III, Chief Executive Officer, MaST Community Charter School

Understanding Charter Schools Public-ness in the Context of Section 1983 Liability, Tort Immunity & 11th Amendment Immunity; National Alliance of Charter School Attorneys, Semi-Annual Meeting, Austin, TX, April 2012 

Criminal Background Checks and Child Abuse Clearances; Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools, August 2011 

Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association; Athletic Directors’ Regional Conference, October 2011 

How to Start a Charter School Workshop 2011,2012, 2013; Presented with Pennsylvania Coalition of Charter, Schools, Hill International and Kitchen Associates 

Discipline of Regular and Special Education Students; Pennsylvania Coalition of Charter Schools, April 2009 

School Discipline – Regular and Special Education; Pennsylvania Coalition of Charter Schools – Act 48 Training, November 2007

Highly Qualified Teachers and No Child Left Behind; Pennsylvania Coalition of Charter Schools, Annual Conference - April 2007 

Model Process for Dismissal of Employees; Council on Education in Management, Plymouth Meeting, PA, March 2007 

Unions and Collective Bargaining; Pennsylvania Coalition of Charter Schools, Annual Conference:  April 2006, April 2007 

Student Discipline Issues; Lorman Education, December 2005 (Philadelphia) and April 2006, Allentown

Training Managers Through Treacherous Waters of the Americans With Disabilities Act, Council on Education in Management, Camp Hill, PA, March 2004

publications

Co-Author, "Recent Third Circuit Ruling May Increase School Liability", The Legal Intelligencer, October 21, 2015 (http://www.conradobrien.com/news/recentthirdcircuitrulingmayincrease-schoolliability).