Theresa A. Conroy

Partner
  • Rochester and Corning
  • 585.231.1111
  •   •     •  
Higher Education

Terri leads the firm’s Higher Education Group where she counsels colleges on a variety of higher education legal issues, including Title IX compliance, sexual misconduct investigations, student affairs, and labor and employment matters.

Terri knows higher education institutions from the inside. She began her legal career at HSE as an associate in 1989 but left us in 1992 to explore opportunities in higher education. Before returning to the firm in 2000, Terri taught at Monroe Community College (Rochester, NY) and spent seven years at the State University of New York College at Brockport as a faculty member, academic administrator, Director of Affirmative Action, and Associate Director of Human Resources. As the Director of Affirmative Action, she worked directly with the President of the College and was responsible for ensuring the College's compliance with certain labor and employment laws and policies. Her responsibilities also included key areas of student affairs, including Title IX and Section 504. In this role—approximately 20 years ago and long before the Office for Civil Rights' current focus on conducting discrimination investigations—Terri investigated complaints of discrimination made by students, faculty, and staff, including sexual harassment. (She has also conducted such investigations in the private sector, at the highest levels of organizations.) In addition, Terri is fully trained as a civil rights investigator, including Title IX investigations, and as a Title IX Coordinator.

Upon her return to HSE in 2000, Terri’s legal advice and guidance to our higher education clients called upon these real world, on-campus experiences. This experience was further deepened when Terri represented a client in connection with a high profile Title IX investigation commenced by OCR and worked on that campus full-time for an academic year as special counsel in its newly created Office of Title IX Programs and Compliance. During her time on campus, Terri has worked on and been involved with every aspect of Title IX compliance, training, outreach, and programming, including:

  • Developing Title IX-compliant policies and procedures
  • Conducting training—for faculty, administrators, staff, and students—regarding policy compliance and responsible employee status
  • Overseeing the Title IX investigation process
  • Conducting “Trauma-Informed Title IX Investigations” training for internal and external investigators
  • Guiding students and parents through the investigation and complaint resolution process
  • Facilitating discussions with faculty, staff, and students regarding community values and their reflection in institutional policies
  • Serving as a resource to working groups of faculty, staff, and students studying and making recommendations regarding policies and protocols
  • Developing resource guides and related materials for students associated with confidential and non-confidential supports and resources available on- and off-campus
  • Building internal and external relationships with on-campus and off-campus individuals and offices committed to combatting sexual violence, including off-campus law enforcement, SANE nurses, and rape crisis counselors
  • Presenting at parent orientation sessions regarding Title IX
  • Selecting and administering a sexual assault campus climate survey

Areas of Focus

  • Federal and state regulation and higher education and non-profit entities
  • College and non-profit legal risk management and corporate governance

HSE Higher Education Institute

On August 2, 2016, HSE offered its first daylong higher education legal conference, hosted by Nazareth College in Rochester, NY: “Higher Education Institute: Avoiding Compliance Pitfalls Across Your Campus-From Admissions to the Title IX Office to the Board Room.” Terri conceived of and led a team in the development and organization of the Higher Education Institute. Learn more about the Higher Education Institute here. The Higher Education Institute will be offered again in August 2017.

  • Higher Education Roundtable
  • The Higher Education Institute’s predecessor was the Higher Education Roundtable. Terri developed the Roundtable in 2009, in collaboration with two higher education institutions. This luncheon series was devoted to legal issues in higher education and was designed to keep college and university administrators up-to-date on the critical and dynamic legal issues they face. The sessions were held in Geneva, NY and Rochester, NY, making them easily accessible to campuses across New York State. The panelists addressed numerous legal issues, in a practical, problem-solving format, including Title IX and sexual misconduct, higher education litigation updates, crisis and emergency preparedness, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and governmental oversight and investigations.
Labor and Employment

Terri is also a member of the firm’s Labor and Employment Group where she counsels private employers, colleges, not-for-profit organizations, and municipalities on a variety of issues in labor, employment and human resources law. As previously stated, she served as the Associate Director of Human Resources at the State University of New York College at Brockport and brings this hands-on experience to her labor and employment practice.

Areas of Focus

  • Personnel policies and practices, and compliance with New York and federal laws
  • Wage and hour issues
  • Safety and health (OSHA) matters
  • Representing management before federal and state agencies
  • Defense of discrimination and sexual harassment charges, including representation before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the New York State Division of Human Rights
  • Leave issues, including compliance with the FMLA, ADA, and Workers’ Compensation Law
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Union prevention
  • Collective bargaining, contract negotiations, and compliance with the National Labor Relations Act
  • Grievance and arbitration/dispute resolution
  • Employment contract claims and employment-related torts

PROFESSIONAL & CIVIC AFFILIATIONS

  • Member, National Association of College and University Attorneys
  • Chair, Board of Trustees, The Aquinas Institute
  • Vice President, Board of Trustees, Geva Theatre Center
  • Member, Roberts Wesleyan College Executive Advisory Board
  • Member, Board of Directors, State University of New York College at Brockport Foundation
  • Former Board Member, Community Place of Greater Rochester
  • Former Member, Board of Trustees, Greece Montessori School
  • Former Board Member, Family Services of Rochester
  • Former Member, Zoning Board of Appeals, Town of Clarkson
  • Former Member, Environmental Commission, City of Rochester

HONORS & AWARDS

  • Named by The Daily Record as one of Rochester’s Attorneys of the Year, 2016
  • Recipient, “Top Women in Law” Award, The Daily Record, 2013
  • Selected to the Upstate New York Super Lawyers list, 2012-2016 in the field of Schools & Education

NEWS

Featured, “Higher-ed focus reaches beyond Title IX issue,” Buffalo Law Journal, August 29, 2016

PUBLICATIONS

PRESENTATIONS

  • Presenter, “Title IX: Training, Information Sharing, and Discussion,” Rochester Institute of Technology, April 11, 2017
  • Organizer and Presenter, “The Epidemic of High Profile Sexual Harassment Claims: Solutions and Strategies to Create a Working Environment Where Harassment Can’t Take Hold,” Harter Secrest & Emery’s Labor and Employment Law Conference, April 5, 2017
  • Co-Presenter, "Clery and VAWA—Title VII vs. Title IX: The Employment Side of Combatting Sexual Assault on College Campuses," Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers (EACUBO) 2016 Annual Meeting, October 16-19, 2016
  • Co-Presenter, "Title VII or Title IX: What’s the Difference and Why Does it Matter?" College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA) Annual Conference and Expo, September 25-27, 2016
  • Organizer, Presenter and Co-Presenter at the Harter Secrest & Emery “Higher Education Institute: Avoiding Compliance Pitfalls Across Your Campus-From Admissions to the Title IX Office to the Board Room,” August 2, 2016. Presentations and training sessions included:
    • Conducting Trauma-Informed and Legally-Compliant Investigations, Hearings, and Appeals
    • Writing Investigative Reports and Outcome Letters
    • Student and Employee Training Requirements under Title IX, Clery/VAWA and New York's "Enough is Enough”
    • Title VII vs. Title IX/Clery/VAWA: What’s the Difference and Why Does It Matter?
  • Co-Presenter, “Title IX Case Update,” University of Rochester, May 2016
  • Presenter, “Title IX: Lessons Learned,” Title IX Workshop, LeMoyne College, March 3, 2016
  • Co-Presenter, “Enough is Enough Update,” Title IX Workshop, LeMoyne College, March 3, 2016
  • Presenter, “Title IX: Opportunities for Innovation and Collaboration,” Upstate New York College Collaboration, October 6, 2015
  • Co-Presenter, "Trauma-Informed Title IX Investigations: Conducting Compassionate and Effective Investigations," Nazareth College, August 4, 2015
  • Co-Presenter, "From Trusting Our Judgment to Questioning Our Commitment: The Evolution of OCR's Title IX Enforcement," Higher Education Roundtable hosted by Hobart and William Smith Colleges, May 2014

Terri has presented before the Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers (EACUBO), the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA), Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA), the SUNY Registrars Association (SUNYRA), the SUNY Field Administrators Consortium, the New York State Organization of Bursars and Business Administrators (NYSOBBA), Rochester Area Colleges (RAC), and the Upstate New York College Consortium (UNYCC).

Terri has been asked to speak at higher education conferences, on many college campuses, and in many workplaces. Presentation and training topics include the following

  • Higher Education Topics
    • Preventing and addressing sexual harassment on campus
    • Title IX and sexual misconduct
    • Title IX and athletics
    • Title IX and on-call first responders
    • Conducting trauma-informed Title IX investigations
    • The Clery Act, campus safety, and emergency preparedness
    • FERPA
    • Legal issues in academic advising
    • Legal issues in college admissions
    • Legal issues associated with internships and field placements
    • The accommodation of disabilities in higher education
    • The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
    • College and university diversity initiatives and the law
    • The fiduciary obligations of members of Boards of Trustees
  • Labor and Employment Topics
    • Conducting Title VII investigations
    • Conflict resolution
    • Criminal background checks
    • Employment law for managers
    • Improving employee performance
    • New York Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act
    • Preventing and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace
    • Reductions in force
    • Religious exemptions under the New York State Human Rights Law, Title VII, and Title IX
    • Supervising for success
  • College Instructor, "Legal Issues in Higher Education" (graduate-level program)
  • Instructor, Certificate Program, Cornell School of Labor and Industrial Relations, “Human Resources and the Law”

PRACTICE AREAS

ADMISSIONS

  • New York
  • New York State courts
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of New York

EDUCATION

  • Georgetown University Law Center, cum laude, 1989
  • SUNY Brockport, summa cum laude, 1986