- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd and 5th Circuits
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
- J.D., Duke University School of Law, 1980
- B.A., magna cum laude, Economics, State University of New York at Albany, 1977
Cliff works at the intersection of law, government and politics. With his extensive litigation and appellate experience, as well as his fluency with the governmental and regulatory process, Cliff provides businesses, developers and organizations with a sophisticated, problem-solving approach to address issues involving land use, construction and real estate development, environmental regulation, public contracting and permitting, administrative law and commercial matters. Cliff chairs the Firm’s Public Affairs and Appellate Law practices and is a member of its Litigation and Real Estate sections.
A skilled courtroom advocate with nearly 100 appeals before the Pennsylvania Commonwealth, Superior and Supreme Courts, Cliff’s outstanding track record of success before the Pennsylvania courts includes landmark decisions in election and redistricting law; collective bargaining and home rule authority; statewide environmental regulation in the context of local zoning authority; the constitutionality of the medical marijuana program; the application of the state’s program to right-size fiscally distressed communities; the authority of the Public Utility Commission to modify independent power contracts; and the tax status of colleges and universities. This experience — and his well-earned credibility and reputation with opposing counsel, judges, governmental officials and regulatory agencies — enhances Cliff’s ability to negotiate and resolve matters, often avoiding the need to engage in litigation.
An active member of Pittsburgh’s civic, legal and political communities, Cliff has served on governmental commissions, including the Southwest Planning Commission, the Pittsburgh Planning Commission and the Pittsburgh Zoning Board, where he was instrumental in redrafting Pittsburgh’s zoning code to reflect the contemporary landscape of modern cities. He has acted as counsel to numerous municipal authorities, including the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority, the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority, and the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
Cliff has served in leadership roles with numerous political campaigns for presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial and judicial candidates, and with transition teams for local and state elected officials, including Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. In 2012, Cliff served as President of the Pennsylvania Electoral College.
Cliff is a member of the Academy of Trial Lawyers and the International Association of Defense Counsel. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently appointed him as Chair of the Pennsylvania CLE Board, where he has initiated a statewide diversity and inclusion program. Cliff also serves as a federal and court-appointed special master, mediator and arbitrator.
He has been recognized as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for nearly two decades and is regularly listed in The Best Lawyers of America. He enjoys the highest ratings, both substantively and ethically in Martindale-Hubbell, where he is a top rated lawyer for Energy, Environmental and Land Use Law. He was recently nominated by his peers as one of Philadelphia Magazine’s Top 50 attorneys in Pittsburgh.
Authorities, Agencies and Municipalities
- Represented City of Pittsburgh in defending City Charter’s residency requirement against public labor arbitrator’s Act 111 award. City of Pittsburgh v. FOP, Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, No. 18 W.A.P. 2016 (Pa. 2016).
- Served as Solicitor, Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority (2002-2008). Responsible for overall representation, including addressing and overseeing legal issues involving environmental regulatory compliance, public contracting, insurance, general construction, general litigation, and contract review and preparation for the Authority, which has an operating budget in excess of $70 million annually.
- Represented County Board of Commissioners in establishing fiscal control of court-related funds. Board of Comm’rs. of Bedford County v. President Judge of Court of Common Pleas of Bedford County, 92 A.3d 112 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2014) (en banc).
- Represented the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development in extensive litigation involving the effect of an Act 47 Recovery Plan in the public labor arbitration process. City of Scranton v. Fire Fighters Local Union No. 60, 29 A.3d 773 (Pa. 2011), reversing, City of Scranton v. Fire Fighters Local Union No. 60, 964 A.2d 464 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2009).
- Served as Counsel to City of Harrisburg in negotiating Transfer, Transition, and Shared Services Agreements in respect to revenue generation associated with Act 47 Recovery Plan (2013).
- Represented Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, its Secretary, and the Act 47 Coordinator for Pittsburgh in litigation brought by the Fire and Police Unions, challenging provisions of the Pittsburgh Recovery Plan. Fraternal Order of Police v. Yablonsky, 867 A.2d 658 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005) (en banc) and Pittsburgh Fire Fighters Local No. 1 v. Yablonsky, 867 A.2d 666 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2005) (en banc).
Land Use and Environmental
- Served as Solicitor to 3 Rivers Wet Weather, Inc., a nonprofit corporation which is coordinating regional effort involving regulatory agencies and over 60 municipalities and authorities in developing comprehensive plans to comply with EPA Clean Water Act mandates and address Combined and Sanitary Sewage (“CSO/SSO”) improvements potentially costing $3 billion (1999–present).
- Served as Chair, Allegheny County Solicitors Group, coordinating amongst 65 municipal entities in negotiations with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Allegheny County Health Department concerning (a) Phase One activities to develop Long Term Sewage Control Plans (2002-2005); and (b) Phase Two activities concerning the development of Green Infrastructure Options (2014-2015).
- Represented redevelopment authority in appeal involving historic preservation as foundation for dimensional variances. Demko v. City of Pittsburgh ZBA et al., No. 646 C.D. 2016 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2016).
- Represented landowner in federal court dispute involving commercial rights of first refusal associated with extensive land development. Spaghetti Warehouse Restaurants, Inc. v. Olander et al., C.A. No. 2:15 cv-00705, U.S. District Court (W.D. Pa. 2015).
- Represented landfill establishing non-conforming use and addressing application of zoning ordinance to proposed height. Tri-County Landfill, Inc. v. Pine Twp. ZHB, No. 176 C.D. 2013 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2014) and Tri County Landfill, Inc. v. Liberty Twp., No. 175 C.D. 2013 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2014).
- Represented landowner in dispute with commercial tenant over allocation of substantial condemnation award. In re Condemnation of Property of HPT (McKeesport), 1213 C.D. 2012 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2013).
- Established right of developer to require municipality to accept dedicated road. Monroe Meadows Housing Partnership, LP v. Monroeville, Pennsylvania, 2544 C.D. 2005 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2007).
- Established scope of statewide preemption associated with local regulation of gas drilling operations under the Oil & Gas Act. Huntley & Huntley, Inc. v. Borough Council of Oakmont, 964 A.2d 855 (Pa. 2009).
- Represented mine operator in obtaining land use approvals to drill for methane gas. Coal Gas Recovery v. Franklin Zoning Hearing Board, 944 A.2d 832 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2008).
- Established in Pennsylvania Supreme Court that an independent power producer has a right under federal law to obtain a contract to purchase energy. Pennsylvania Electric Company v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and American Power/CMS Generation; 544 Pa. 475, 677 A.2d 831 (1996).
Colleges and Universities
- Represented Washington & Jefferson College in landmark State Supreme Court case establishing real estate tax-exemption status for independent college qualifying as a “public charity” under the state constitution. City of Washington v. Board of Appeals of Washington County and Washington & Jefferson College, 550 Pa 175, 704 A.2d 120 (1997).
- Represented Wheeling Jesuit University and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, WV in challenge to fire services charges imposed by municipalities. Wheeling College, Inc. et al v. City of Wheeling, West Virginia Supreme Court, 204. W.Va. 404, 513, S. E.2d 177 (1998), cert. denied, 119 S.Ct. 2386 (1999).
- Represented Lieutenant Governor in successful challenge to Pennsylvania Congressional Map based on constitutional partisan gerrymandering. League of Women Voters v. Commonwealth, 178 A.3d 737 (Pa. 2018).
- Successfully defended state candidate against constitutional challenge involving residency requirement. In re: Makhija, 136 A.3d 539 (Pa. Cmwlth 2016).
- Represented Senate Democratic Caucus in successful challenge to statewide reapportionment map which Supreme Court ruled had violated Pennsylvania Constitution. Holt v. 2011 Legislative Reapportionment Commw. 38 A.3d 711 (Pa. 2012).
- Defended federal court challenge to use of existing legislative map for 2012 election, following Supreme Court reapportionment decision. Pileggi v. Aichele, 843 F. Supp. 2d 584 (E.D. Pa. 2012).
- Successfully defended challenge to nomination papers of state senate candidate. In Re Nomination Petition of Farnese, 945 A.2d 274 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2008), aff’d 944 A.2d 753 (Pa. 2008).
- Successfully represented Pennsylvania State Democratic Committee in challenge to third-party U.S. Senate Candidate. In re Nomination Papers of Rogers, Pennsylvania Supreme and Commonwealth Courts, 913 A.2d 298 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2006) and 914 A.2d 457 (Pa. Cmwlth, 2006).
- Successfully represented Pennsylvania State committee and Barbara Mcllvaine Smith in post-election challenge in Chester County, Pennsylvania for state legislative seat that changed the balance of power in State House for first time in 12 years (2006).
- Represented coalition of licensed medical marijuana growers and dispensaries in affirming state permitting process. Keystone ReLeaf, LLC v. Pennsylvania Department of Health, 186 A.3d 505 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2018).
- Represented governmental entity in multi-million dollar claim involving installation of a computer billing and customer service system. ALCOSAN v. Deloitte Consulting, LLC and Deloitte & Touche, LLP, Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, G.D. 00-8729 (2005).
- Represented municipal authority in structuring multi-million dollar settlement concerning disputed water and sewer charges. Pittsburgh Brewing Company, formerly Keystone Brewers, Inc. v. Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority, Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, G.D. No. 02-23066 (2003).
- Represented architect in litigation involving stadium construction and design. Ligo Architects v. Redevelopment Authority of the City of Butler et. al., Court of Common Pleas of Butler County, No. 08-70121 (2011).
- Represented general contractors in various arbitrations involving steel industry.
- Successfully represented general contractor in third-party contribution claim against construction manager of environmental clean up site for substantial costs associated with an electrical transformer explosion. J&L Specialty Products Corp. v. LTV Steel and Eichleay Corporation v. ICF Kaiser Engineers, Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, G.D. No. 91-02785 (1993).
- Represented wireless carrier in Third Circuit case involving interplay between federal and state law. Nextel West Corp. v. Unity Township, 282 F.3d 257 (3d Cir. 2002).
- Represented wireless carrier in Third Circuit case involving challenges under the 1996 Telecommunications Act and Pennsylvania exclusionary zoning law. APT Pittsburgh Limited Partnership v. Penn Township, 196 F.3d 469 (3d Cir. 1999).
- Chair, Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Board (appointed by Pennsylvania Supreme Court), (Vice Chair, 2017-2018)
- Chair, CLE Board’s Diversity Project, 2017-present
- Statewide Voting Protection Steering Committee, Tom Wolf for Governor, 2018 and 2014
- Member, United Jewish Federation HQ Site Selection Committee, 2018
- Pennsylvania State Counsel, Clinton-Kaine Campaign, 2016
- Member, Governor-Elect Wolf’s Transition Team, Transportation Committee, 2014-2015
- Commissioner, Southwest Pennsylvania Planning Commission, 2012-present
- Member, Federal Court Judicial Selection Panel (Appointed by Senator Bob Casey), 2014 and 2008
- Statewide Finance Committee, Tom Wolf for Governor, 2014
- Elector and President of Electoral College for Pennsylvania, 2012
- Chair, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s Transportation Vision Team, 2012
- Chair, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s Transition Team’s Subcommittee on Planning & Development Process, 2013
- Statewide Authorized Representative for Obama-Biden Election Matters, 2012 and 2008
- Fellow, Allegheny County Academy of Trial Lawyers, 2005-present
- Vice Chair, City of Pittsburgh Planning Commission, 1994-2006
- Vice Chair, City of Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment, 1994-2006
- Member, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato’s Transition Team – Committee of Municipal Cooperation, 2003
- Member, Governor Ed Rendell’s Transition Team – Committee on Judicial Issues, 2002
- Member, Allegheny County Executive James Roddey’s Transition Team – Committee on Engineering and Public Works, 2000
- Coach, Dynamo Soccer, 1990-2011
- Elected Fellow, Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County
- Listed in The Best Lawyers of America
- Selected to the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers List, 2005-2018
- Philadelphia Magazine’s Top 50 Attorneys in Pittsburgh
- Federal and State Court-appointed special master, mediator and arbitrator
- Martindale-Hubbell Top Rated Lawyer for Energy Law, Environmental Law and Land Use Law
- Speaker, “Redistricting: The Pennsylvania Experience,” American Constitution Society, 2018
- KDKA-TV Interview, “Gerrymandering and the Pennsylvania Redistricting Case,” 2018
- Speaker, “Contracting with Public Entities,” Pennsylvania Diversity Conference, 2017
- Speaker, “Developments in Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Law,” 2017
- Speaker, “Land Use Issues Involving Oil and Gas,” Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI) Oil and Gas Conference, 2017
- Speaker, “Land Use Update,” PBI Environmental Law Forum, 2017
- Speaker, “The Voting Rights Act and Redistricting,” Pennsylvania Diversity Conference, 2016
- Speaker and Co-Author, “A New Reality: Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act,” PBI, 2016
- Presenter, “Land Use Update,” PBI Environmental Law Forum, 2015-2016
- Presenter, “Developments in Pennsylvania Land Use Law: A Survey of 2013 Cases,” PBI Environmental Law Forum, 2014
- Presenter, Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Lawyers, discussing the Adjudication of Election Law Cases, 2013
- Presenter, Pennsylvania Election Law and Campaign Finance, PBI, 2013
- Presenter, “Developments in Pennsylvania Land Use Law: A Survey of 2012 Cases,” PBI Environmental Law Forum, 2013
- Faculty Member, “Environmental Law Forum,” PBI Seminar, 1998-2013
- Presenter, “Developments in Pennsylvania Land Use Law: A Survey of 2011 Cases,” PBI Environmental Law Forum, 2012
- “Local Regulation of Oil and Gas Operations in Pennsylvania: Drilling through the Preemption Doctrine,” PBI The Environment and Natural Gas Development
- Faculty Member, “Pennsylvania Election Law, Campaign Finance & Lobbying Disclosure,” PBI Seminar, Philadelphia 2011
- Presenter, “Eminent Domain: For the Public Good or Private Gain?” (involving Kelo v. New London), Urban Land Institute, September 2005
- Faculty Member, Real Estate Institute, PBI Seminar, Philadelphia 2004
- Course Planner, “Real Estate Issues Impacting Public Utilities and Telecommunication Companies,” PBI Course, 2002
- Course Planner, “Public Contracts and Competitive Bidding In Pennsylvania,” Lorman Seminar, 2002
- Guest Lecturer, University of Pittsburgh, 1996-2001
- “The Impact of Acts 67 and 68 on Development: An Analysis of the ‘Growing Smarter’ Amendments to the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code,” Sixth Annual Environmental Law Forum, PBI No. 2001-2708, March 2001
- “Limitations on Land Use Controls: The Application of Constitutional and Statutory Principles,” Sixth Annual Environmental Law Forum, PBI No. 2001-2708, March 2001
- “The Impact of Acts 67 and 68 on Regional Development,” Lawyers Journal, Vol. 3, No. 16, August 10, 2001; PA Bar Quarterly, July 2001
- “A Case Study of Post-Election Litigation: The Pittsburgh Mayor’s Race,” Lawyers Journal, Vol. 3, No. 15, July 27, 2001
- Faculty Member, Academy of Trial Lawyers, Federal Court Seminar, Pittsburgh, 2000
- Co-Author, “Options Exist for Appealing New County Tax Assessments,” Pittsburgh Business Times, January 28, 2000
- Faculty Member, “Cross-Examination of Expert Witnesses,” PBI Course, Pittsburgh, 1999
- Faculty Member, “Anatomy of Commercial Trial,” PBI Seminar, 1999
- Appeared on Bill Flanagan’s Business Week, KDKA-TV, January 11, 1998, to discuss taxation of non-profit institutions following the Washington & Jefferson decision
- Faculty Member, “Municipalities Planning Code,” PBI Seminar, Pittsburgh, 1998
- Faculty Member and Moderator, “Locally Unpopular Land Uses,” PBI Seminar, Pittsburgh, 1996
- Faculty Member, “Appearances Before Zoning Hearing Boards,” PBI Seminar, Pittsburgh, 1995
- Faculty Member, “Municipal and Officer Liability,” PBI Seminar, Philadelphia, 1991
- “Supporting the Backbone of the Region,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 28, 1988
- “Exclusionary Zoning Challenges Under Pennsylvania Law,” Communique
- “Allegheny County Property Assessments: Appeals and Procedures,” Communique
- “Hands off the Electoral College,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Forum, December 30, 2012
- “Drilling for Marcellus Shale: The Interplay between State and Local Regulatory Oversight,” PBI Real Estate Institute, 2010-6037, Vol. 1, p. O-15 (2010)
- “State and Local Regulation of Oil and Gas Operations: Drilling Through the Maze of Preemption, Severed Mineral Estates and Surface Owner Rights,” Energy & Mineral Law Institute, Vol. 29, Chapter 11 (2008)
- “A Step Towards Cleaner Rivers: Pittsburgh’s New Dye Testing Ordinance,” Real News, June 2006
- “United Artists: Reviewing the Conscience Shocking Test Under Section 1983,” 1 Seton Hall Circuit Review 101, Spring 2005
- “Pittsburgh — Yes, we can: Cutting through the fiscal despair, Clifford B. Levine Outlines a Plan for Achieving a Dynamic Region,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Forum, February 15, 2004
- “Legal Developments Affect Charitable Tax Exemption Status,” PA CPA Journal, Winter 2003
- “Regional Branding: The Emerging Pittsburgh,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Forum, December 29, 2002
- “In the Spotlight: With Regional Sewer Initiative Looming, Lawyer Takes Post at Water and Sewer Authority,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Forum, May 5, 2002
- “Post–Election Litigation in Pennsylvania,” 41 Duquesne Law Review 153, Fall 2002
- “Gulf Power: Cable Broadband Defies Simple Categorization,” Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Newsletter, Pennsylvania Bar Association, Spring 2002
- “Bush v. Gore: Who Exactly Was the Supreme Court Protecting?” Lawyers Journal, Vol. 3, No. 1, January 12, 2001
- J.D., Duke University, 1980
- B.A., magna cum laude, Economics, State University of New York at Albany, 1977
- Research Associate, Office of the Speaker, New York State Assembly, 1974-1977