Laurel Gift is counsel in the Litigation Services Department and co-chairs the Criminal Defense practice group and the Internal Investigations, Ethics and Compliance practice group. She concentrates her practice in the area of internal investigations for institutions of higher education, municipalities, and private businesses and representing corporate and individual clients in a variety of criminal matters.
Ms. Gift’s internal investigations practice includes representation of institutions of higher education during sensitive and potentially volatile allegations. Her work includes crafting comprehensive investigation plans and overseeing all aspects of investigative work. Ensuring investigative integrity serves as her guidepost as she conducts and oversees investigations.
Ms. Gift’s criminal defense practice includes representation of individual and corporate clients who are under investigation by state and federal law enforcement. She represents witnesses and targets of investigations before state investigating grand juries and federal indicting grand juries. Ms. Gift has represented pharmacists, medical providers, and medical practice groups during investigations relating to prescription drug practices. Ms. Gift also has extensive experience representing scientists, professional engineers, and professional geologists during criminal investigations involving the oil and gas industry.
Ms. Gift also provides ethics and compliance counseling to individual and corporate clients. She has represented engineering companies in the design and implementation of corporate ethics programs and currently supports the University of Pittsburgh in establishing its new office of Compliance, Investigations & Ethics. She has counseled individuals under investigation by the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission and state licensing boards.
Ms. Gift is a Certified Information Privacy Professional who serves as Privacy Officer to a large public university. Ms. Gift has been instrumental in revising HIPAA policies and implementing an institution-wide privacy compliance program, which includes compliance with FERPA, HIPPA, GLBA, GDPR, and the Red Flags Rule.
Before entering private practice, Ms. Gift served as a Senior Deputy Attorney General for the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General and as an Assistant District Attorney in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
News & Publications
- Supreme Court: Derailing Traffic for Political Revenge Might Be Unpalatable, But Does Not Violate Federal Fraud Statutes
- Third Circuit Decision Highlights the Challenges Facing Businesses Receiving Secret Grand Jury Subpoenas
- Young Lawyers Q&A: What To Do About a Noisy Office Neighbor, Recruiters, or an Offensive Client
- Third Circuit Maintains Longstanding View that Private Citizens Lack Judicially Cognizable Interest In the Prosecution Of Another
- For Young Lawyers – “Three Challenges Faced by Newly Hired Law School Graduates”
- A New Risk Assessment Tool for Sentencing in PA Criminal Cases—Reform or More Harm?
- Laurel Gift Testifies Before the PA Commission on Sentencing as Regional VP of the PA Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Pa. Courts and the Limits of Corporate Criminal Liability in ‘Pi Delta Psi’
- For Young Lawyers – “Panel Weighs in on Politics in the Office, Billable Hours Shortfall, and Family Leave”
- Laurel Gift is Quoted in Two Recent Articles in Corporate Counsel Magazine
- High Court Ruling Highlights Double Jeopardy Complications
- Laurel Gift Appeared in an Episode of “Breaking Homicide” on the Investigation Discovery Network
- Does sports betting put student athletes at risk?
- Sports Betting and the Impact on Colleges and Universities
- For Young Lawyers – “Panel Weighs In on Losing Interest, Refusing Work, and Opposing Counsel Clashes”
- Laurel Gift Elected as Vice President of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Laurel Gift Receives the President’s and Directors’ Commendation from PACDL
- Operation Varsity Blues: Insights on the College Admissions Scandal from a Former Prosecutor
- What Do the SEC’s Proposed Whistleblower Rule Amendments Mean for Businesses?
- For Young Lawyers – “Panel Weighs In on Partner Clashes, Networking and Gift-Giving Grievances”
- Internal Investigations: Five Tangible Benefits of Responding Promptly and Decisively to Reports of Misconduct
- Laurel Gift Prepares Testimony for PACDL about Sentence Risk Assessment Instrument
- For Young Lawyers – “Panel Tackles Quality Work, Courtroom Experience and Drinking at Business Meals”
- Taking Statements During Internal Investigations: Garrity and the Fifth Amendment May Prevent Use in Subsequent Legal Proceedings
- Pa. Supreme Court Decision Points the Way to Grand Jury Reform
- How Businesses Can Deal With Cryptocurrency Risks
- Federal Court Finds ICOs May Be Securities for Purposes of Criminal Prosecution
- Philadelphia U.S. Attorney Pledges to Prosecute Trade Secret Theft
- Laurel Gift Joins the Women’s White Collar Defense Association
- The DOJ’s New Officially Unofficial Policy May Enable Federally Regulated Business To Avoid Criminal Charges
- It’s a Slam Dunk: Take Steps Now to Avoid Tough Lessons Learned by Several NCAA Basketball Programs
- How the Federal Grand Jury Process Works
- New PA Superior Court Decision Indicates Extra Precautions Needed by Attorneys to Protect Work Product of Third Party Consultants
- Double SCOTUS Rulings Provide Guidance on Sentencing
- For Young Lawyers – “First Up: Choosing a Mentor, Pitching New Business and a Little Coffee Talk”
- Laurel Gift Wins a Burton Award for the Finest Law Firm Writers of 2018
- Laurel Gift Elected to the PACDL Board of Directors
- Laurel Brandstetter Published “Lessons in Ethics and Compliance: March Madness or March to Readiness”
- The DOJ’s New Officially Unofficial Policy May Enable Federally Regulated Business to Avoid Criminal Charges
- Laurel Gift Quoted in Corporate Counsel
- Supreme Court Narrows Whistleblower Definition Under Dodd-Frank: Now Are Your Company’s Compliance Systems in Order?
- Whistleblower Status Up For Debate Before SCOTUS: Digital Realty Trust Inc. v. Somers
- Former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, Charged with Lying to the FBI, and Pleads Guilty
- Laurel Brandstetter Publishes Op-Ed on Russia Investigation Indictments in Patriot-News
- It’s A Slam Dunk: Take Steps Now to Avoid Tough Lessons Learned by Several NCAA Basketball Programs
- How the Federal Grand Jury Process Works
- Laurel Brandstetter’s Op-Ed on Mueller Grand Jury Published in Philadelphia Inquirer
- Laurel Brandstetter Comments on PA Gaming Control Board
- Laurel Brandstetter Named Chair of Criminal Defense and Internal Investigations Practice Group
- Circumventing Discretion: Seth Williams’ De Facto (C) Plea
- Partner Laurel Brandstetter Appeared on Sunday Edition
- Laurel Brandstetter Quoted in The Morning Call
- Laurel Brandstetter Interviewed on KDKA-TV
- Laurel Brandstetter Interviewed on Voice of America International
- “Searching Smartphones: Espionage or Court-Sanctioned Surveillance?”
- Schnader Welcomes Laurel Brandstetter to Firm
Community & Pro Bono
Ms. Gift’s community and pro bono focus is on criminal justice reform and access to justice. She represented a juvenile life prisoner seeking a new sentence following the Miller and Montgomery decisions and is now working toward a request for commutation. She also works with the Innocence Project in raising claims of actual innocence.
- State Board of Directors, Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Chairperson, Allegheny County Chapter, Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Member, Criminal Justice Act Panel for the U.S. District Court of Western Pennsylvania
- Member, Fellows Program, Allegheny County Bar Foundation
- The Himalayan Institute, Certified Yoga Instructor, 2004-present
- Steel City Boxing Association, Volunteer, 2012-2015
- The Sprout Fund, Advisory Board Member, 2004-2008
- Hastings College of the Law, J.D., 2000
- University of California, Santa Cruz, B.A., Legal Studies and Environmental Studies, 1997
- Pennsylvania, 2001
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
- Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Member, 2014-2020; Allegheny Chapter Founder and Chairperson, 2016-2020; Advocacy Committee Co-Chair, 2018-2020; State Board of Directors, 2018-2020 and Vice President (Western District), 2019-2020
- Allegheny County Bar Association, Member
- Women’s White Collar Defense Association, Member
- Certified Information Privacy Professional/US (CIPP/US)
- International Association of Privacy Professionals, Member, 2020-present
- Recipient of the Burton Award for the Finest Law Firm Writers of 2018
- Represented large international labor union during federal grand jury investigation, conducting internal investigation of over 15 areas of concerns. The successful completion of these investigations allowed Union leaders to make significant operational decisions and improve upon existing policies and practices.
- Conducted an internal investigation for a large public university arising out of misconduct in an athletics program, which positioned the university to respond, make public comment when appropriate, and effect positive change.
- Successfully represented witnesses and targets of a statewide investigation of the failure to report and respond to child abuse by religious organizations. Provide counsel to high-ranking cleric during ongoing internal inquiry concerning allegations of financial mismanagement and other improprieties.
- Represented the dean of a mid-size public university during a joint investigation by the PA State Ethics Commission and Office of Attorney General, which resulted in the conclusion of both investigations without legal action.
- Represented individual and corporate tax payers during a criminal IRS investigation for under reporting and failing to report income, which resulted in the closure of the investigation without criminal charges or civil penalties.
- Conducted an internal investigation for a small church relating to allegations of sexual misconduct with minors. The comprehensive investigation allowed church leaders to make critical employment decisions, improve upon existing policies, and document their efforts to protect children.
- Conducted an internal investigation for a college concerning allegations of sexual misconduct by former personnel, which positioned the university to respond effectively, document its response, and ensure that its students were adequately protected.
- Conduct internal investigations for municipal school districts in Western Pennsylvania in response to allegations ranging from teacher misconduct with students to waste, fraud and abuse. Investigations positioned local school district to effectively and decisively respond to allegations.
- Successfully represented individual witnesses and employees of a large public university during criminal investigations of fraternity hazing.
- Implement code of business ethics for national engineering firm, which positioned the client to compete for federal contracts.
- An Evening with the Attorneys General: Enforcement Trends in Pennsylvania and Delaware
- Constitutional Rights in the Digital Age: Is There an App for That?
- Laurel Gift Speaks at Higher Education Compliance Conference of Society of Corporate Compliance & Ethics
- The Role of Internal Investigations in Ethics and Compliance Programs
- Pittsburgh CLE Seminar on “Introduction to Grand Jury Practice”
- Laurel Gift Presented Criminal Law Update
- Laurel Gift and Bruce Merenstein Spoke at PACDL Conference
- Internal Investigations and Athletics Compliance in Higher Education
- Laurel Gift Presented ACBA CLE
- Laurel Gift Presented to ACBA Municipal and School Solicitor Section
- Laurel Gift Presented Ethics CLE for ACC
- Laurel Gift Spoke on Internal Investigations
- Laurel Gift Taught CLE on Workplace Investigations