Steven J. Schiffman, Esq., will receive the 2024 Lifetime Conservation Leadership Award at the Pennsylvania Land Conservation Conference at the Thursday night dinner on April 4.

2024 Lifetime Conservation Leadership Award winner Steven J. Schiffman

Steven J. Schiffman, Esq. (Steve to those who know him), has for decades given generously of his time to and shared his extraordinary breadth of knowledge with conservation organizations and causes, helping with myriad issues big and small. Steve has been a leader in the conservation movement, from identifying litigation where WeConservePA involvement could make a difference for conservation to lecturing on complex legal subjects at Pennsylvania and national training events. He has engaged in countless behind-the scenes, ad hoc task groups and conversations addressing the threats and opportunities for conservation.

Steve has consulted with and represented numerous conservation organizations through the years and is proud to currently be affiliated with Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy, and Manada Conservancy. He served four terms on the WeConservePA board of directors (2007-2013 and 2015-2021) and continues to serve on the WeConservePA policy council.

Steve grew up in Cheltenham, a suburb of Philadelphia. He is a graduate with distinction of the Pennsylvania State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1974. In 1977, he graduated from Capital University School of Law with a Juris Doctorate magna cum laude. As a law student, he authored a paper on land development after a tornado had destroyed the small town of Zenia, Ohio. This research began his keen interest in real estate law.

Following graduation, he moved to Harrisburg to serve as an assistant attorney general and handled complex corporate tax issues for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue. In 1980, Steve joined his wife Lori Serratelli to form the law firm partnership of Serratelli and Schiffman. After commuting weekly by train to Philadelphia over a three-year period, he earned his LLM in taxation from Temple University Law School in 1983.

Thanks to a referral from Tom Beauduy, a former colleague and friend at the Department of Revenue, the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen Clubs became one of his first clients with his focus being on their conservation initiatives. Tom went on to work for Larry Schweiger at the Joint State Government Committee on environmental matters (and thereafter became Executive Deputy for the Susquehanna River Basin Commission). Steve and Larry were to become fast friends. In 1996, Larry asked Steve to become outside general counsel to Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, a role he serves to this day.

Steve has worked with and for the Pennsylvania Game Commission as well as the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, where he has been a presiding officer for all Administrative Appeals since 1995. He helped form the Pennsylvania Deer Federation and Pennsylvania Wildlife Federation. He was general counsel to the Pennsylvania Forestry Association where he worked closely with “Doc” Goddard, Lenny Green, and John Olive.

Steve’s practice, now Schiffman, Sheridan, and Brown, P.C., focuses on a broad range of legal areas, including business, taxation (including business and estate planning and administration), commercial loans, bank asset recovery and workout, residential and commercial real estate law, and non-profit corporation law. He also provides counsel in the areas of general litigation, real estate, and personal injury. Mr. Schiffman acts as a tax lawyer to both non-profit and for-profit corporations. Mr. Schiffman is admitted to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, United States Tax Court, and the United States Supreme Court.

Steve has a distinguished body of conservation legal work including many notable cases:

  • The American Freedom Oil v. PA Audubon Society of Western PA, decided in 2015 by the Orphans Court of Allegheny County. The case held that the severance of subsurface rights constituted a violation of the conservation easement (based on the model), requiring the Plaintiff to undo the severance and to pay Audubon’s attorney fees and costs.
  • Ray v. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, a 2013 Superior Court decision on the interpretation of conservation easements, originally tried in the Westmoreland Court of Common Pleas.
  • In 2012, WPC v. Foxley Farms, a highly contested conservation easement enforcement in Westmoreland County resulting in the easement being enforced as written.
  • In 1991, Steve represented the employees of the Fish & Boat Commission in a suit to stop the Governor from unilaterally reducing the agency’s spending power.
  • In 1987, he represented Plaintiff Duff and the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen concerning the right to hunt. This landmark case, affirmed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, concluded that the Game and Wildlife Code preempts townships’ regulatory powers regarding hunting.
  • Also in 1987, he established the right to fishing for the public on the west branch of the Lehigh River.

Steve and Lori have two sons. They have been avid boaters for more than a quarter century, spending any free time on the Chesapeake Bay.

WeConservePA would like to gratefully acknowledge Lori Serratelli for her assistance in drafting this feature on Steve Schiffman.