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Madelyn F. Wessel
University Counsel and Secretary of the Corporation

University Counsel and Secretary to the Board Madelyn Wessel is a corporate officer and reports jointly to the President and Board of Trustees. As University Counsel, she supervises and directs all legal services rendered on behalf of the University. As Secretary of the Corporation, she also serves as Secretary of the Board of Trustees, heading the office that provides governance advice to and administrative support for the Board. Madelyn came to Cornell from Virginia Commonwealth University where she served as University Counsel and as a Senior Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Previously Associate University Counsel at the University of Virginia, Madelyn had a broad practice including intellectual property law, FOIA, technology, libraries, student affairs, civil rights, constitutional law, and employment law.  She also served as Deputy and later Chief Deputy City Attorney for the City of Portland, Oregon and as an Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Opinions Division, Massachusetts Department of Justice.  Madelyn was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (“NACUA”) for an at-large term from 2013-2016, and chairs the NACUA publication series NACUANOTES.  She has authored dozens of papers and presentations for NACUA, EDUCAUSE, state bar associations, the ABA, and other scholarly and professional entities in areas ranging from intellectual property law and data security, to constitutional law, civil rights, and employment. Madelyn holds a BA with Honors from Swarthmore College and a J.D. from Boston University.


James R. Kahn
Deputy University Counsel and Secretary of Weill Cornell Medicine

James R. Kahn is Deputy University Counsel and Secretary of Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University. The Office of University Counsel advises Weill Cornell and Cornell University on a broad range of transactional, regulatory and compliance issues faced by academic medical centers and universities. At Weill Cornell, this includes representation of the Physician Organization, employment and faculty issues, major real estate and corporate transaction, research-related agreements, issues regarding Weill Cornell-Qatar, internal investigations and litigation. The Office of the Secretary is responsible for matters involving the Board of Overseers and provides support for the Faculty Councils.

Before joining Weill Cornell, Mr. Kahn was in private practice in New York City, principally in commercial and complex litigation and regulatory compliance.  Mr. Kahn previously had been an attorney in the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice. Mr. Kahn received his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School and his Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.


Patricia A. McClary
Deputy University Counsel

A cum laude graduate of Princeton University (Phi Beta Kappa), Ms. McClary received her J.D. from Harvard Law School where she was an editor of the Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review. Following graduation, she clerked for the Honorable Roger G. Connor of the Alaska Supreme Court, and then spent three years with the law firm of Chadbourne & Park in Washington, D.C. where she concentrated in litigation and federal agency practice.  Pat is licensed to practice in New York and the District of Columbia. At Cornell, she advises on a wide range of legal matters with a focus on contracts, licenses and other commercial transactions, intellectual property, information technology, research and regulatory issues.  She is a member of the university Policy Advisory Group and the Financial Conflict of Interest Committee.  She also serves as Secretary of the Cornell Research Foundation and as a member of its Board of Directors.

Mark T. Adams
Associate University Counsel, Weill Cornell Medicine

Mr. Adams received a B.S. (Chemistry), cum laude, from Xavier University of Louisiana, and a J.D. from Howard University School of Law, where he was Staff Editor of the Howard Law Journal, as well as Class President. Prior to law school, Mr. Adams was a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Research Fellow, and worked as a biomedical research specialist at Tulane University Medical Center, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he also attended the University of Alabama School of Medicine.  Prior to joining the of Office of University Counsel, Mr. Adams was an associate at the law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP for over four years, concentrating his practice on complex credit and structure finance transactions, before joining the IBM legal department as in-house counsel for seven years, working on a wide variety of corporate and transactional matters.  At Weill Cornell, Mr. Adams advises on a range of legal, business and transactional matters, including sponsored and collaborative research agreements, core facility licenses, clinical trials, consulting agreements, product and service agreements, software licenses, and other vendor and client agreements, as well as institutional policy creation and interpretations, conflicts of interest, confidentiality, liability and risk allocation, and intellectual property matters.

Shannon K. Buffum
Associate University Counsel

Shannon received a B.S. from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and a J.D. from Notre Dame Law School.  She joined the Office of University Counsel in November 2017, and represents Cornell in labor law matters, including those related to collective bargaining, grievance resolution and arbitration, and proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.  Previously an associate at Harris Beach PLLC,  Shannon represented educational institutions in a variety of labor and employment and education law matters, and conducted complex investigations for corporate clients.   Shannon was named a Super Lawyers Rising Star in the area of Labor and Employment Law in 2016 and 2017.

Jason G. Canavan
Associate University Counsel

Mr. Canavan received a B.A. from Cornell University, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was a James Kent Scholar and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.  From 2007-2011, he was an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, advising on corporate and non-profit governance issues, as well as a wide variety of corporate and sovereign transactions.  From 2011 to 2018, Mr. Canavan practiced at UBS Investment Bank in a number of capacities, most recently as Head of Legal (Americas) for M&A and the Private Funds Group, specializing in international M&A, capital markets, and private equity.  At Cornell, he is focusing on international projects and agreements, related compliance and regulatory issues, as well as serving as the key point of advice for the University’s Investment Office.

Valerie Cross Dorn
Senior Associate University Counsel

Valerie Cross Dorn graduated from Syracuse University College of Law, where she earned dual degrees in law and public administration (from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University). She was the Technical Editor of the Syracuse Law Review and Managing Editor of Law and History Review.  After clerking for the Honorable Howard G. Munson of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, Ms. Cross Dorn came to Cornell where she has been litigating cases in federal and state courts since 1994.  Her practice areas include federal civil litigation, employment law, education law, intellectual property, veterinary malpractice and associated issues, personal injury defense work, and risk management.  She also is the primary attorney handling subpoenas and record requests served upon the University from every corner of the country. She supervises student law clerks working in the office, guest lectures in classes on a variety of legal topics, and presents training sessions for employees on risk management, contract negotiations, and intellectual property issues.  Ms. Cross Dorn is a certified mediator for the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, where she has also served as an arbitrator in the alternative dispute resolution program.  She is admitted practice in the New York State courts as well as all four federal district courts in New York, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and United States Supreme Court.

Robert R. Hoon
Senior Associate University Counsel

Originally from the State of Washington, Mr. Hoon has spent 27 years in Washington and North Carolina higher education institutions before relocating to New York and Cornell.  Mr. Hoon worked as: Assistant to the Minority Leader for the Washington State House of Representatives; a medical malpractice defense and construction litigator in Seattle; university legal counsel and later an in-line business officer at Washington State University. As a business officer Mr. Hoon’s roles included University Real Estate Officer, Public Finance Officer, Contracts Officer, Interim Asst. Vice President, and Director of Business Services with up to 10 business units and operations. While in the office of University Counsel, he has served as General Counsel at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and Deputy General Counsel and Interim Vice Chancellor & General Counsel at NC State University.  His subspecialties include: university athletics, the establishment and use of affiliated entities, university boards and governance, construction, public finance, capital project delivery alternatives, housing development, litigation, real estate, complex university transactions, contract management and negotiation, and institutional compliance and integrity.  Mr. Hoon graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Washington State University in 1982 with a B.A. (Political Science) and law school from the University of Washington (J.D. 1986). He is a member of both the North Carolina and Washington Bars, the National Association of College and University Attorneys, and is currently seeking admittance by motion to the New York State Bar. At Cornell, Rob will focus on athletics and complex business and real estate transactions.

Nancy E. Klotz
Associate University Counsel

Ms. Klotz received her B.A. from Yale College and her J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, Order of the Coif.  Prior to joining the Office of University Counsel, she served as director of fiduciary services and senior trust counsel with a regional trust company. She has extensive private practice experience in the areas of wills, trusts and estates, and tax law and has written and lectured on these topics. She also has experience in general corporate law. Ms. Klotz currently serves as chair of the Trusts and Estates Section of the Monroe County Bar Association and has held leadership roles in the New York State Bar Association.  At Cornell, Ms. Klotz advises on a variety of corporate matters, concentrating on gifts, trusts, estates and tax matters.

Leah E. Laben
Assistant University Counsel

Ms. Laben received her B.A., with distinction in all subjects, from Cornell, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. Prior to joining the Office of University Counsel, she was an associate at the law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP, where she focused on issues pertaining to employee benefit plans under ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. At Cornell, she works on a variety of matters, including university benefits, tax, and campus policy development.

Sheryl Orwel
Associate University Counsel, Weill Cornell Medicine

Sheryl Orwel received her J.D. from New York Law School, her B.A. from the City University of New York, City College and her M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University, Teacher’s College. Immediately prior to joining Cornell in 2012, Ms. Orwel practiced employment and labor law for seven years as an associate at Clifton Budd & DeMara, LLP.  Previously, she was an assistant general counsel at the New York City Mayor’s Office of Labor Relations where she represented the city in every phase of administrative proceedings including arbitration and improper practice matters before the New York City Office of Collective Bargaining. She also provided legal counsel to the city’s negotiators in collective bargaining negotiations. At Cornell, Ms. Orwel handles a range of matters, including litigation, faculty and student affairs, Title IX/Clery, affirmative action, investigations and employment issues.

Adam G. Pence
Associate University Counsel

Adam Pence received a B.A. in both Political Science and English, high honors, from the University of Michigan; an M.A. in English Literature from Indiana University; and a J.D. from Indiana University School of Law, summa cum laude.  From 2010-2019, he was an attorney with Foley & Lardner LLP in New York, New York, representing clients on a broad range of commercial litigations, including employment and intellectual property law matters.  At Cornell, he represents the University in various civil litigations in state and federal courts, including but not limited to employment, intellectual property, bankruptcy, and contracting matters.  Mr. Pence is admitted to practice in New York State courts, all four federal district courts in New York, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Jared M. Pittman
Associate University Counsel

Mr. Pittman received a B.A., summa cum laude, from Texas A&M University, and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was a two-time James Kent Scholar. Prior to joining the Office of University Counsel, he specialized in labor and employment law as an associate at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Winston & Strawn LLP, and as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Ithaca. At Cornell, he focuses on a wide variety of land use matters, including zoning, building, fire code, historic preservation, and real property tax issues (and related litigation), as well assemblies, energy, environmental, government relations, and transportation matters.

Christopher H. Rogala
Associate University Counsel, Weill Cornell Medicine

Christopher received a B.A., summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Colgate University; an M.A. from the University of Chicago; and a J.D. from New York University School of Law, magna cum laude and Order of the Coif.  Prior to joining the Office of University Counsel, he was an Associate General Counsel in the commercial unit of the Office of the General Counsel of The City University of New York. From 2009 to 2015, he was an associate at the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, where he advised clients on the development of international joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, and other large-scale commercial transactions. Christopher advises on a range of business and transactional matters.

Nora Salvatore

Nora S. Salvatore
Associate University Counsel

Ms. Salvatore received her B.A., with distinction in all subjects, and J.D., cum laude, from Cornell. Prior to joining the Office of University Counsel, she was an associate at the law firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, where she focused on restructuring and bankruptcy litigation. At Cornell, she advises on student affairs, student-focused federal and state regulatory compliance, and finance transactions.

Stephanie A. Sechler
Associate University Counsel

Ms. Sechler received a B.A. from Kalamazoo College, a Ph.D in History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a J.D. from Cornell University. Prior to joining the Office of University Counsel, she was an associate at Paul Hastings LLP in Washington D.C., where she focused on corporate litigation. At Cornell, she works on a variety of corporate matters including complex contracting issues, cooperative agreements, real estate and facility use matters, sponsored research, regulatory compliance, government relations and legislative matters, and assemblies issues.

Mark Siegmund
Associate University Counsel, Weill Cornell Medicine

Mark Siegmund joined Weill Cornell Medicine as Associate University Counsel in 2019.  He received his J.D. in 2008 from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was a senior editor of the law review, and his B.A. in 2005 from Northwestern University.  Prior to joining Weill Cornell, he served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Litigation Bureau of the New York State Office of Attorney General.  From 2008 to 2018, he was a litigation attorney in the New York office of the law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP.  At Weill Cornell, Mr. Siegmund focuses on litigation matters and institution-wide investigations.


Michael D. Smith
Associate University Counsel, Weill Cornell Medicine

Michael D. Smith is Associate University Counsel with Weill Cornell Medical and has been with Cornell since 2001.  He is a cum laude graduate of Middlebury College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was Comment Editor of the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Business Law.  His primary focus is as counsel to the Weill Cornell Physician Organization, and also serves a wide range of topics at the medical school including managed care, billing compliance, HIPPA privacy and security, real estate and vendor contracting. Prior to joining Cornell, he was the health care group of large law firms in Washington, DC and Austin, Texas, served as in house counsel for a San Antonio, Texas hospital group, and was an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maryland.


Wendy E. Tarlow
Senior Associate University Counsel

Ms. Tarlow focuses on counseling university clients on all aspects of employment matters and defending the University in employment and other matters in front of administrative agencies. She also handles a range of other matters, including affirmative action, disability law, and faculty affairs. Ms. Tarlow received her undergraduate degree in philosophy from Hobart and William Smith Colleges and her J.D. from Cornell University Law School.

Conrad R. Wolan
Associate University Counsel

Conrad Wolan received his B.A., with honors, in International Relations from James Madison College at Michigan State University and his J.D from Cornell Law School.  Prior to joining the Office of University Counsel, he was a partner with Sayles & Evans in Elmira, NY, where he focused for over twenty years on general litigation, employment law, and education law for private and public sector clients.  At Cornell, he represents the University in a broad range of civil litigation in state and federal courts, including employment, construction, personal injury and property damage defense, and contracting matters.  He also handles various record requests including subpoenas, authorizations, and FOIL and FOIA requests, and he advises on risk management issues. Mr. Wolan is admitted to practice in New York State courts, the federal Northern, Southern, and Western District Courts in New York, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.


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