Please feel free to contact any of the staff in the Office of Counsel. Their contact information and primary areas of responsibility are listed in the Attorney Directory. If you are unsure which staff member to contact:
For River Campus and University matters: Gail M. Norris
For Medical Center matters: Aileen Shinaman
Gail M. Norris
Vice President and General Counsel
As General Counsel, Gail is the chief legal officer for the University. She oversees the provision of legal and strategic advice to the University’s divisions, units, departments and owned or controlled entities on a wide range of areas including academic, health care, employment, intellectual property, corporate, real estate, tax, immigration, litigation and compliance. Gail manages and oversees the Office of Counsel comprised of 14 attorneys and 12 additional staff. She also oversees the engagement of all external legal service providers and manages the budget for delivery of these legal services.
Associate Vice President and General Counsel to Medical Center
Aileen is General Counsel to the Medical Center. She oversees the work of the attorneys in the Office of Counsel to the Medical Center and reports to the Senior Vice President for Health Affairs and the General Counsel for the University. She’s actively involved in providing legal advice to the University’s health care divisions, including the School of Medicine and Dentistry, the School of Nursing, the Medical Faculty Group, Strong Home Care, and assisting University affiliates including Jones Memorial Hospital and Noyes Hospital. Aileen’s areas of expertise include: mergers and affiliations, faculty compensation, contract and tenure issues, the Stark and Anti-Kickback laws, human subject and basic science research and oversight for legal aspects of Medical Center compliance. Aileen has been with the University for over two decades. Prior to coming to the University, she worked in private practice and was an appellate clerk with the New York State Appellate Division, Third Department.
Diane handles a wide variety of matters, including but not limited to health care policies, medical staff credentialing, patient care issues, medical center faculty employment, conflict of interest, corporate housekeeping, not-for-profit compliance and governance, and physician practice acquisitions. She works on a variety of contracts, including service agreements, employee lease agreements, consulting agreements, confidentiality agreements, student affiliation agreements, space licenses, facility use agreements, and business associate agreements. In addition to advising Strong Memorial Hospital, Highland Hospital, URMFG, the School of Medicine and Dentistry and the School of Nursing, she provides legal support to the Highlands at Pittsford, the Highlands at Brighton, Visiting Nurse Service, and Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network in these as well as other areas.
Richard S. Crummins
Deputy General Counsel
Rick has been with the Office of Counsel since 1997. He advises on a broad range of legal subject areas, including student affairs (including discipline and Title IX issues), disability law compliance, copyright and trademark, contracts of all types, and student privacy (FERPA) issues. Rick review and answers subpoenas, oversees litigation and Office for Civil Rights complaints involving students and visitors, and manages general liability claims and lawsuits involving injuries to persons on campus. Before joining the University, Rick was a trial lawyer and clerked for a US District Judge.
Joe advises the University on a wide range of matters, including business transactions, technology and software matters, complex commercial arrangements and certain healthcare transactions. Joe also advises the University on corporate governance issues and other legal matters, including research, international issues, tax-exempt financing, not-for-profit tax and dispute resolution. Prior to joining the University, Joe was an associate in private practice.
Deirdre provides advice to the University on matters in litigation, those disputes that may have a risk of litigation and conducts internal investigations. She primarily advises the University’s hospitals, medical school, school of nursing, physicians, and other health care professionals, to avoid risk and manage disputes so that they do not end up in court. Deirdre works on the team that manages the University’s medical malpractice litigations, other general liability claims and the occasional commercial litigation. Deirdre also works on issues that may come up with the NYS regulatory agencies with the responsibility for health care operations and licensure of medical professionals. She is the primary liaison in the Office of Counsel for issues involving law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Prior to joining the University, Deirdre was a prosecutor, working as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Rochester office of the Western District of New York and a litigation associate.
Eileen advises the Medical Center on the legal and regulatory issues associated with strategic acquisitions and expansion of the Medical Center, including fraud and abuse, the physician self-referral law (known as “Stark”), HIPAA and various federal and New York regulations. Eileen has extensive experience designing, drafting and negotiating healthcare-related transactions and contracts (PSAs, medical director agreements, student affiliation agreements, BAAs, employment agreements, collaborating institution agreements, etc.) with regional hospitals, private practices, educational institutions, various counties, school districts, for profit and not-for-profit entities, and physicians to ensure regulatory compliance and further the University’s strategic goals.
Sarah advises the Medical Center on an array of regulatory and transactional issues and her areas of practice include Medicare and Medicaid regulatory and reimbursement matters, telemedicine, health care fraud and abuse (Stark and Anti-Kickback), credentialing and Medical Staff issues, practice acquisitions, and student affiliation arrangements. Sarah joined the Office of Counsel in 2017 after practicing as a health care regulatory and transactional attorney.
Sarah provides counsel on all aspects of labor and employment law, including discrimination and harassment complaints and claims; disability; family and medical leave; diversity and affirmative action issues; employment issues, including hiring, firing, discipline, and performance management; wage and hour issues; faculty compensation, contract and tenure issues; I-9 processing; and litigation oversight for employment claims. Prior to joining the Office of Counsel, Sarah was a partner in a private firm focusing on employment and commercial litigation in both state and federal courts. She has served as a law clerk in the Western District of New York, and prior to relocating to the Rochester area, worked as an attorney advisor for the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission and served as in-house counsel for an international labor union.
Catherine C. Nearpass
As Senior Counsel for Labor and Employment, Kate provides legal advice supporting all University divisions and departments on matters affecting employees. Kate’s areas of expertise include discrimination and harassment, disability and Family and Medical Leave, wage and hour issues, union and labor relations, as well as general employment issue such as hiring, termination, discipline and performance management. Separate from her position within the Office of Counsel, Kate also holds a role within University Human Resources in which she investigates internal complaints of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation filed under the University’s Policy against Discrimination and Harassment (Policy 106). Prior to joining the University in 2010, Kate practiced labor and employment law and general litigation in private practice.
Associate Vice President for Risk Management
As Associate Vice President for Risk Management, Spence has operational responsibility for healthcare risk management, professional and general liability claims management, and insurance and enterprise risk management for the University. He has in depth experience in the management and defense of medical malpractice litigation, medical professional liability insurance including captive insurance companies, response to regulatory investigations of hospitals and physicians, healthcare risk management, quality assurance, medical staff credentialing, patient safety and general health care law including medical staff issues, patient privacy (HIPAA), cyber security, patient's rights, and interactions with governmental regulatory agencies including the New York State Department of Health, the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the Office of Civil Rights, OSHA and the Joint Commission.
Molly is a Senior Counsel in the Office of Counsel to the Medical Center. Her practice primarily focuses on provider contracting, reimbursement, government programs, and other payor issues. Molly advises on statutory and regulatory compliance, settlement agreements, Medicare, Medicaid, the 340B program, government grant and pilot program participation, and fraud and abuse issues. She also helps facilitate practice acquisitions.
Laura advises the Medical Center regarding all non-malpractice patient care issues including patient/surrogate consent; advance directives; treatment of minors; patient discharge; withdrawal of treatment; rights and responsibilities of patients and their families; confidentiality and release of medical records; and the treatment of psychiatric patients. Laura oversees litigation regarding guardianships, patient treatment, and mental hygiene matters. Laura also drafts and reviews contracts and policies, and provides staff education regarding various topics. Laura serves on the Ethics Committees at both Strong and Highland Hospitals.
Mark R. Wright
Mark advises the University on all aspects of real estate, facilities and construction matters, including the preparation and negotiation of real estate leases, contracts for the acquisition and disposition of real estate, easements, access agreements and construction and design contracts, as well as construction disputes and land use issues. His practice also includes assisting with contracts and legal issues arising in connection with the University’s research activities, including research collaborations, sponsored research and clinical trial agreements. Mark also advises on various other contracting matters, including healthcare transactions and purchasing agreements.