Western Pennsylvania

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If you’re new to the website, we hope you’ll take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with its contents.   

To get to know us better, feel free to check out the list of our current chapter leadership, which can be found on the Chapter Officers List. For general information or assistance, visit our Fellowship and Resources subpage. For those of you who may be interested in volunteering or know someone who could use some assistance, we have a page on Christian Legal Aid of Pittsburgh which provides pro bono services to many in need in our community. 

We hope you’ll visit us often – both at our Website and at our events. More than visiting, we hope you’ll stay – by becoming a member of Christian Legal Society.  If you're not a Member already, we encourage you to join today!

Thank You!


CLS Western Pennsylvania Attorney Chapter Leadership

Lauren Rushak
Chapter President

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Lauren is a Member of the Commercial & Corporate Litigation Practice Group at Clark Hill.  Lauren has twenty years of experience litigating cases in state and federal courts across the country.  She has successfully handled a wide variety of complex business disputes, including class action and shareholder derivative suits, involving claims for fraud, negligence, conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and many other claims.  Lauren has also litigated numerous complex real property disputes on behalf of significant real estate developers and other commercial entities, centering on contractual rights, lien rights, and tort issues.  Lauren’s experience also includes representation of financial/lending institutions and service providers in cases involving contract, intentional tort, lender liability, consumer protection, unfair trade practice and related claims.  Lauren received her B.A. from the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and her J.D. from the Villanova University School of Law in 1999, where she was active on the moot court board and received the Outstanding Litigation Award from Forensic Economics Studies, Inc.  Lauren is an Appointed Member of the Local Rules Advisory Committee for the Western District of Pennsylvania, a Fellow of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation, a Fellow of the Academy of Advocacy of Temple University, a member of the Advisory Board for the Pennsylvania Civil Practice Guide publications, and a current and longstanding member of the Board of Directors (including former President) of Easter Seals of Western and Central Pennsylvania.  Lauren and her husband, Rich, reside in Franklin Park with their three girls – Natalia, Khristina and Annika.  They are members of St. Stephen’s Church in Sewickley, Pennsylvania.


Delia Bianchin
Chapter Leader and Immediate Past President

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Delia currently serves as Senior Counsel at The Lynch Law Group, a boutique business law firm, where she focusus her practice on corporate, commercial, employment and litigation and serves as outside general counsel for business in the western Pennsylvania area.  Delia has over twenty-two years of experience, having spent the first decade of her career focused on complex commercial litigation at two prominent large law firms in Pittsburgh, and the second decade as General Counsel of a diversified contract manufacturing company before working with a dynamic start-up and then joining The Lynch Law Group.  Delia received her B.A. from Calvin College and her J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1997, where she served on the University of Pittsburgh Law Review and as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Law and Commerce, and as a leader of the student chapter of Christian Legal Society.  Delia has been actively involved in community affairs, having served on the national Christian Legal Society Board, local branch Board for Bethany Christian Services, and as the founding President of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the Christian Legal Society. She currently serves on the School Board for Penn Christian Academy and HobNob Theatre. She is one of the founding board members of Christian Legal Aid of Pittsburgh, Inc., which has been providing pro-bono legal services to the poor and needy in the Pittsburgh area since 2004.  Delia is actively involved with St. Peter’s Anglican Church, where she teaches Sunday School and formerly served as Senior Warden. She resides in Butler, Pennsylvania with her husband Robert and their two children, Julia and Simon.


Mary Bates
Chapter Leader

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Mary is a member of the international law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP. She work with companies in all stages of their development and manages complex legal and transactional issues in connection with contract negotiations, product development, and business operations. Mary works with corporate attorneys to advise clients across a spectrum of continuously innovating industries on virtually all transactional, operational, and strategic areas of their businesses. She assists in helping clients, from start-ups and non-profits to large public and private corporations, to identify key business and legal risks that could arise in general commercial deals. She provides tactical guidance on managing the complete life cycle of corporate agreements, and she reviews industry-specific agreements and general commercial agreements, as well as creates and successfully implements contract review and negotiation policies / playbooks. Mary assists corporate attorneys with the counseling of in-house business teams by effectively working with various departments and levels within the clients’ corporate structures to manage legal issues for cross-functional teams and provide guidance and practical solutions on various transactions.


Erika O’Donnell
Chapter Leader & Secretary

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Erika is an Associate Attorney at Stewart, McArdle, Sorice, Whalen, Farrell, Finoli & Cavanaugh, LLC, a general practice firm located in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Her practice has been focused on family law, including divorce, custody, spousal and child support, premarital agreements, and post-nuptial agreements.  She graduated with a B.A. in Political Science and Communications from the University of Pittsburgh and received her J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2016, where she served as Executive Editor of the Journal of Law and Commerce.  Erika serves as the Secretary of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of CLS and the Secretary of Christian Legal Aid of Pittsburgh.  Erika is a member of the Allegheny County Bar Association and the Westmoreland County Bar Association.  She also serves on the social committee of Court Appointed Special Advocate of Westmoreland, Inc.  Erika resides in Irwin, Pennsylvania with her husband Sam and attends Immaculate Conception Church.


Peter Pross
Chapter Leader & Treasurer

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Peter N. Pross is a Pittsburgh attorney who currently serves on the campus staff of the Coalition for Christian Outreach.  In that capacity, Pete works with law students in the Christian Legal Societies at Duquesne University School of Law and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Pete also reaches out to and mentors law students and recent law grads in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Previously, he was a creditors rights and bankruptcy attorney at various law firms in Pittsburgh.  He received a B.S in History from East Carolina University and an M.A. of History from the University of Richmond.  In 1982, he received his J.D. from the University of Richmond School of Law.  Pete worships at Mosaic Community Church on Pittsburgh's Northside.  He and his wife Beth have two sons and three grandchildren.


Gregory Teufel
Chapter Leader

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Greg has 20 plus years of experience with large firms.  In 2015, Greg formed his own law firm in Pittsburgh, which now has four lawyers.  His practice focuses on outside general practice work and commercial litigation.  Greg is Member of the Board of the Christian Legal Society’s Western Pennsylvania Chapter and Chair of the Legal Advocacy Committee for Patient Advocates for Advanced Cancer Treatments.  He obtained his B.S. in Computer Science from King’s College in 1991, and his J.D. from the University of Michigan in 1994.  Greg resides in Mt. Lebanon, PA, with his wife Laura and two children.  He is an Active member of Bellefield Presbyterian Church in Oakland, PA, where he serves on session as an Elder and as Clerk of Session.

State
Pennsylvania
City
Pittsburgh
President
Lauren Rushak

Join the Leaders Bible Study

You are invited to attend the Weekly Lawyers’ Bible Study, which is hosted by local Christian attorneys on Wednesdays at lunchtime in the Parlor room, main floor, of the First Presbyterian Church on 6th Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh (across from the Duquesne Club).  The Bible study starts at 12:00 p.m. and ends at 12:45 p.m.  This is a wonderful opportunity to join in fellowship, prayer and learning with local lawyers and fellow Christians.  Contact:  Pete Pross at ppross@ccojubilee.org for more information and to be included on his email reminder list.  Please come and join the group -- and bring a friend!


Looking for someone to pray for you?

There are a committed group of Christian lawyers in the Pittsburgh area who pray together regularly and who are willing to pray for your needs and requests.

Contact:  C. Robert Keenan III at crobertkeenan@gmail.com or at 412-427-6760.

May God bless you!

Past Events

November 29, 2018: OVERCOMING STRESS:  A CHRISTIAN FRAMEWORK

Lawyers are constantly scanning the horizon – trying to predict the next catastrophe or threat to their client.  Lawyers are always on guard, and, by their nature, are often perfectionists or “type-A” people who put too much pressure on themselves. The levels of stress are high. This results in many lawyers living in a permanent but unsustainable “fight or flight” mode.   And, unfortunately, many lawyers today are suffering at epidemic proportions – depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and generally poor mental health are all too common.  

On November 29, 2018, we welcomed Dr. Pascual Chen, owner of Clarity Psychological Services -- a clinical psychologist, certified trauma therapist, and certified school psychologist in Pennsylvania. Dr. Chen attended Wheaton College in Illinois where he obtained his undergraduate degree in Psychology. He earned his Master of Science and Doctor of Psychology from Hofstra University.  Dr. Chen provided a practical and extremely compelling talk on the ways that lawyers can:

      ·       work within a Christian framework to manage stress – remembering one’s true identity is in Christ, not the law;

      ·       integrate daily, healthy stress relief practices such as mindfulness and meditation;

      ·       refocus their thoughts and beliefs to achieve a high level of satisfaction and fulfillment practicing law.

      Dr. Chen’s session touched many and was quite impactful.


December 18, 2018: “FOLLOWING YOUR CALLING: IT'S NEVER TOO LATE!"

Each one of us has a special calling on our life – a calling uniquely designed by the Creator of the Universe!  Yet, so few truly experience and live out their special purpose in life.  Perhaps you are afraid, perhaps you do not know what your purpose actually is, or perhaps you have not reallyand truly pursued the answer and then listened – and followed.  But, it is never too late.  God wants each one of us to fulfill the true purpose for which he created us -- to His honor and glory. 

On December 18, 2018, Jack Owen, Esquire, a Super Lawyer who has practiced law for over thirty years, discussed his unique calling to ministry and how that ultimately led him to becoming the Senior Pastor of North Boroughs Church, in Avalon, PA, in 2014.  He discussed how he followed God’s will and calling on his life to ministry,  all while maintaining his own law firm, Owen & Conley, LLC, a demanding law practice, and key roles in many nonprofit and charitable organizations.  Jack’s unique experience and role as both a minister and lawyer provided such valuable and touching insight and knowledge to use in our own everyday lives.  His candor about his journey over the years was quite powerful and enlightening – reminding us that God is always in control.   


February 7, 2019: "LIFE BY THE SPIRIT – HUMBLY SERVING OTHERS IN CHRIST!"

Serving others and giving to others – your time, your energy, your money, your kindness.  One of the most valuable and rewarding traits of truly living life by the Spirit, as a child of the most holy God.  The Bible is filled with verses about honoring God through humble and loving service to others.  We, as lawyers, have such a unique opportunity to do so with huge and unlimited impact.  Let’s grab that opportunity and use our skills, love for Jesus and resources to help those who are truly in need.  Even the smallest act of kindness can draw others to our Father . . . as we know, for where our treasure is, there our heart will be also.  Let’s ensure our hearts’ strive wholeheartedly for treasure in heaven, not of or in this world.    

On February 7, 2019, we welcomed, as one of our panel speakers, Brian Gorman, Esq., the Executive Director of Southwestern Pennsylvania Legal Aid (SPALA), as he spoke about the mission and purpose of this invaluable organization: to improve and stabilize families, housing, and economic security for low-income and other vulnerable southwestern Pennsylvania residents with legal advice and representation.   We also welcomed Mary Bates, Esq., founder of The Legal Clinic, a pro bono legal service operating in connection with the Washington City Mission. The Legal Clinic has given shelter and food to thousands of homeless people over the years, while diligently working on active court cases involving probation, parole, Protection from Abuse Orders, landlord/tenant injustices, child custody, debt collection and many other issues. Through both SPALA and the The Legal Clinic, and the God-honoring work that they do, many who would otherwise have no assistance or hope have been helped to become productive members of society. 

We also welcomed to our panel Mark Hall, Esq., career judicial attorney, United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of Family Guidance, Inc.  Mark spoke about Family Guidance’s longstanding purpose and mission to bring hope and a future through Jesus Christ to vulnerable children and families of all cultures throughout the Pittsburgh region. Since 1964, when the Honorable Maurice Cohill asked Jim Leckie to mentor some boys sent to his court, Family Guidance has continued its critical mission of At Promise Camp and Retreat Center, set on 112 wooded acres in Beaver County. Through Family Guidance’s work, thousands of at-risk children have been afforded life-changing experiences, allowing them to experience the true beauty of God and His magnificent creation.


March 7, 2019:  CHILD ABUSE IN THE CHURCH:  PREVENTING AND RESPONDING

This informative CLE program on such a difficult topic provided substantial information about the legal framework for preventing and responding to child abuse in the church, including practical measures to ensure the protection of our blessed children.  An analysis of the current statutory framework for reporting of child abuse in Pennsylvania was given, which included a discussion of key reforms enacted in Pennsylvania in recent years.  We were blessed to have C. Robert Keenan III as our speaker and he did a terrific job of navigating through the breakdowns of the past, while offering sound and accountable measures that can be enacted in our churches going forward.  He led a valuable discussion of key Pennsylvania regulations, including the level/type of conduct that requires mandatory reporting and to whom.  This included comparing and contrasting how that has changed over the years based on legislation in place.  Mr. Keenan is a Pittsburgh lawyer who has represented employers, municipalities, and insurers since 1979 in the workers’ compensation and employment law arenas.  Presently, he is the Chair of the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners.  He is a past member of the Judiciary Committee of the Allegheny County Bar Association and past Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, for which he also served as a writer and panelist for the advanced PBI course, “Tough Problems in Workers’ Compensation.” He is past Treasurer of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the Christian Legal Society and also serves as a volunteer lawyer for Christian Legal Aid of Pittsburgh, in addition to offering legal services to active-duty military personnel and their families at no charge (including the case of one Marine deployed to Afghanistan, taken by him successfully to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court). 


 

May 16, 2019:  A Time of Prayer Together for the Legal Profession and the Justice System – Hosted by the Honorable Patricia McCullough

 

The CLS Chapter was so fortunate to have the Honorably Patricia McCullough host a beautiful, touching and blessed time of prayer for the legal profession and justice system.  In the beautiful setting of the First Presbyterian Church, 320 Sixth Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh, a time of prayer, praise and wonderful fellowship was had.  We were so thankful to be led in group and individual prayer by Judge McCullough and all truly were touched and blessed by the time together.


 

July 10, 2019:  A Welcome Reception with Honorary Speaker Michael Schutt, Esq.

 

Our Chapter was truly blessed to welcome Michael Shutt, Esq., Director of National CLS Law Student Ministries, as well as the Director of the Institute for Christian Legal Studies (ICLS), a cooperative ministry of CLS and Regent University School of Law, where he serves as Associate Professor and Global Recruiter.  Michael is a renowned writer, speaker, and teacher on the relationship of lawyers, faith, and culture.  He is the editor-in-chief of The Journal of Christian Legal Thought, a publication of ICLS, and is the author of Redeeming Law: Christian Calling and the Legal Profession (InterVarsity Press 2007), a vocational exhortation for law students and lawyers.  His other publications include Oliver Wendell Holmes and the Decline of the American Lawyer: Social Engineering, Religion, and the Search for Professional Identity, 30 RUTGERS L. J. 143 (1998) and What's A Nice Christian Like You Doing in a Profession Like This? 11 REGENT U. L. REV. 137 (1998-99).  He has also authored supplements on biblical principles for use by his students in the law school classroom.  We were quite excited to have Michael join us for a wonderful reception.  We learned more about his extraordinary ministerial work with Christian lawyers and law students across the country as well as practical and biblical ways to integrate faith into our daily practices.  And, we had a lot of fun in the process!