Heather Heidelbaugh is a trailblazer who rose out of humble beginnings, worked her way through college and law school, and became one of the most respected litigators in Pennsylvania – leaving shards of the glass-ceiling far below her.
Born in St. Louis, Heather was raised by a working mom after her father left the family when she was 8. She recalls a decade of struggle as her mother worked a secretarial job to feed the family.
Heather worked summers, saving her earnings to meet tuition and housing costs at the University of Missouri, where she carried a double major in Economics and Political Science. She then enrolled in the university’s law school and graduated with a determination to become a courtroom trial lawyer.
“You couldn’t get a job as a trial lawyer if you were a woman. Law firms were hiring woman in. estates and trusts, and divorce, but you couldn’t find work as a trial lawyer,” she remembers.
After sending out 250 applications, she convinced a partner at a respected St. Louis firm to hire her for a courtroom job with the promise, “Nobody will work harder.”
It proved prophetic.
Newly married in 1988, Heather moved to her husband’s hometown of Pittsburgh, where she quickly became a partner in her law firm at 30 years old. There she developed her reputation as a smart, hardworking and effective advocate.
The move to Pittsburgh would become a pivotal shift in her life as she began to raise a family. Years into her marriage, she discovered that her husband was afflicted with alcoholism, a disease that would ultimately take his life. Years of struggle would follow, and Heather took charge of her young family and made sure that both children succeeded in school, in life, and in their careers.
Heidelbaugh’s work in law and policy led to her appointment to the Governor’s Commission on Judicial Appointments in 1998. In 2005, the administration of then-President George W. Bush invited her to the White House to interview for an appointment to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
Two decades later, Heather became the Chair of the state advisory commission on selection of a U.S. Attorney, United States Marshall, and federal judiciary.
In the ensuing years, Heather served in a variety of party and civic posts and became a familiar face and voice on the city’s television and radio talk shows, where she provided political analysis. Her recognized expertise made her a natural for the GOP nomination for Allegheny County Council’s at-large seat.
As the lone countywide elected Republican on the panel, Heather was a voice of reason and restraint, advocating for less spending, lower taxes, and common-sense public policy.
Both her legal and political resumes stretch for pages, cataloguing courtroom accomplishments and service to her party and the citizens of Pennsylvania.
Thirty-five years later, Heather Heidelbaugh is one of the most highly regarded courtroom practitioners in the country, an equity partner at her Pittsburgh firm, and a candidate for Pennsylvania Attorney General.
She has already won the endorsement of party leaders, including U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.
“The attorney general is the lawyer for the people,” she says of her decision to run. “The citizens of Pennsylvania need a real lawyer who understands the complexities of the law, the intersection between policy and law, and how the law impacts people’s lives.”
Heather resides in Mt. Lebanon, Allegheny County. She has served on the boards of Goodwill Industries, Carnegie Library, and as a Parish Council member of St. John Capistran Roman Catholic Church in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.