IF Ventures Closes First Investment

IF Ventures, a program of Idea Foundry in partnership with Babst Calland, closed its first investment of more than $300,000 in one of the program’s inaugural cohort of companies.

The company receiving investment was one of five companies presented to a group of investors at the end of September 2022. The company remains in stealth mode while it leverages this investment along with other investments to rapidly grow its customer base and enter new markets. Additional investments are still being considered for the inaugural cohort.

IF Ventures operates as an investment group managed as a program of Idea Foundry, Inc., a non-profit economic development organization, backed by a grant from the Economic Development Agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The goal of the program is to attract new investors and flow new capital to companies, ultimately triggering economic development through entrepreneurship and business growth. Companies included in the inaugural cohort were selected based on their investment readiness and chosen from more than 100 vetted opportunities.

“The investor interest and attraction of new investors exceeded our expectations at this early stage. We received many compliments from the investors about the model and the cohort of companies. One of the most promising actions that occurred was that our initial group of investors encouraged their peers to join and ultimately became part of this initial investment” stated Michael Matesic, CEO of Idea Foundry, Inc.

The partnership with Babst Calland added to the credibility of the model and the ease by which investors could participate. “Chris Farmakis and his team were so professional and contributed their expertise to ensure investors understood the structure of the investment and investment vehicle” added Matesic.

“Our driving goal was to develop an investment process that is efficient, scalable and predictable.  Our investors appreciated our process of evaluating the companies and putting forth only the best investment opportunities,” Farmakis said. “We vetted many good companies, but only those that met very specific criteria were presented to the prospective investors. This process reduces risk and saves investors time in having to do the vetting themselves.  We’ll continue to build on the foundation we’ve set for this first investment.”

A second cohort of companies will be brought before participating investors in February 2023.


IF Ventures is an angel investment program of Pittsburgh-based global investor Idea Foundry in partnership with law firm Babst Calland. Led by Mike Matesic, President and CEO of Idea Foundry and Chris Farmakis, shareholder and Board Chairman of Babst Calland, IF Ventures provides investment opportunities to raise capital to advance high potential, emerging growth stage companies.


Mike Matesic
President and CEO
Idea Foundry

Chris Farmakis
Shareholder, Board Chair
Babst Calland

Babst Calland Names Arbaugh, Fennell, Keegan and Wood as Senior Counsel

Babst Calland recently names Tiffany Arbaugh, Dane Fennell, Sean Keegan and Matthew Wood as Senior Counsel in the Firm.

Tiffany Arbaugh is a member of the Energy and Natural Resources and Litigation groups. Mrs. Arbaugh has more than 16 years of experience in the oil and gas industry. She focuses her practice on representing corporations in a variety of litigation matters with an emphasis on mineral title, real estate, trespass, fraud and title curative disputes. Mrs. Arbaugh’s practice also includes advising clients in customary business operations, litigation avoidance strategies and litigation preparedness.

Dane Fennell is a member of the Corporate and Commercial group of Babst Calland. Mr. Fennell’s practice focuses primarily on commercial real estate transactions, mergers and acquisitions, drafting commercial transaction agreements, and general corporate matters. Mr. Fennell’s background includes managing complex due diligence aspects of small and large acquisitions and contract management projects. For these projects, he works closely with Solvaire Technologies, L.P., an affiliate of Babst Calland, to achieve reliable and cost-effective results.

Sean Keegan is a member of the Litigation and Employment and Labor groups of Babst Calland. Mr. Keegan has a broad range of litigation experience in several practice areas including commercial, labor and employment, energy, and maritime. He has experience defending shareholder dispute claims, oil and gas lease disputes, insurance claims, and premises liability claims. Mr. Keegan has represented clients in both state and federal courts throughout the United States.

Matthew Wood is a member of the Environmental group. He assists clients on a variety of environmentally-related legal matters arising under major federal and state environmental and regulatory programs, with a focus on issues involving government inquiries, environmental investigations, remediation and concomitant activities under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and their state analogs. In connection with this experience, he has advised clients during all stages of multi-year environmental remediation projects under consent decrees and administrative orders at sites across the U.S. Mr. Wood counsels clients in the manufacturing, chemical, metals, and other sectors on permitting matters, compliance, enforcement actions, and government investigations and provides support on issue assessment, risk management, and strategy implementation to ensure effective client operations.

Babst Calland Names Shekhar and Snyder as Shareholders

Babst Calland recently named Varun Shekhar and Josh Snyder shareholders in the Firm.

Varun Shekhar is a member of the Environmental and Transportation Safety groups. Mr. Shekhar’s Environmental practice emphasizes federal, state and local regulatory matters arising under the Clean Air Act (CAA). He counsels Title V facilities across the country regarding compliance determination and assurance, CAA Section 114 information requests, and environmental audits. Mr. Shekhar draws upon his science and engineering background to help clients develop compliance solutions that are practical, technically and legally sound, and to advise entities in the course of enforcement actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Justice, and state agencies, as well as citizen suits within federal district and appellate courts. Mr. Shekhar also has substantial experience in assisting entities with continuous parametric and emissions monitoring systems, including coordinating with consultants and other technical advisors in identifying and addressing operational and data processing issues as they relate to compliance determination.

Joshua Snyder is a member of the Litigation and Energy and Natural Resources groups of Babst Calland.  Mr. Snyder has extensive experience representing oil and gas producers in a range of disputes.  His energy litigation experience includes defending oil and gas producers and contractors from personal injury, toxic tort, nuisance, and lease dispute claims.  Additionally, Mr. Snyder has represented clients in the manufacturing, finance, healthcare, and coal industries in a range of commercial disputes.  He has represented clients in federal and state courts, as well as before administrative bodies and arbitration panels.

Babst Calland Receives ACBA ALLY Certification in Diversity and Inclusion

Babst Calland has earned certification from the Allegheny County Bar Association as part of the inaugural cohort of the ALLY Initiative.

The ALLY certificate was presented in a graduation ceremony last week. Babst Calland attorneys, Carla Castello, Donald Bluedorn and Lisa Bruderly, accepted the honor on behalf of the firm. “The firm views diversity as a business imperative that is critical for maintaining a positive and inclusive workplace culture. We are honored to be recognized by the ALLY Initiative,” said Carla Castello, Chair of the firm’s Women’s Initiative.

ALLY stands for Attorneys, Learning as allies, Living as allies, and Yielding results. The ACBA Ally initiative was created “to engage attorneys, their law firms, corporate legal departments, courts and other legal organizations to commit to increase inclusivity, create equitable workplaces, empower historically marginalized and underrepresented members of the bar and reflect the community we serve, through active participation in various key programs and projects targeted to achieve these objectives.”

Over the past year, Babst Calland successfully completed 10 goals across four different categories to earn this ALLY certification and further promote gender equity and diversity both at the Firm and in the community. These accomplishments included, but were not limited to, the following:

  • The Firm hosted several Diversity, Equity and Inclusion CLEs, including a CLE through its partnership with the Pittsburgh Legal Diversity & Inclusion Coalition, and an internal CLE co-hosted by the Firm’s Women’s Initiative and DEI Committee.
  • The Women’s Initiative promoted mentoring circles across multiple offices and practice groups to provide mentorship opportunities and support members’ professional and personal goals.
  • The Women’s Initiative provided presentations to young lawyers to support career development.
  • The Firm partnered with the Pitt Law Women’s Association to host a networking event to encourage women in the pursuit of their legal careers.
  • Babst Calland participated in the ACBA Summer Clerkship Program, which seeks to attract and retain high-potential diverse law students in the Pittsburgh community.
  • Babst Calland attorneys and staff organized a volunteer project through the United Way to benefit food-insecure children in our community.
  • Babst Calland encouraged and sponsored diverse attorneys in attending training programs and conferences to further their career.

The ALLY certification memorializes Babst Calland’s commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion in the workplace and legal profession.


Babst Calland Ranked in 2023 “Best Law Firms”

Babst Calland has been ranked in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list nationally in seven practice areas and regionally in 29 practice areas:

  • National Tier 1
    • Environmental Law
    • Litigation – Environmental
  • National Tier 2
    • Land Use & Zoning Law
  • National Tier 3
    • Litigation – Construction
    • Mining Law
    • Natural Resources Law
    • Oil & Gas Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 1
    • Pittsburgh
      • Bet-the-Company Litigation
      • Commercial Litigation
      • Construction Law
      • Corporate Law
      • Energy Law
      • Environmental Law
      • Information Technology Law
      • Land Use & Zoning Law
      • Litigation – Construction
      • Litigation – Environmental
      • Litigation – Land Use & Zoning
      • Municipal Law
      • Natural Resources Law
      • Water Law
    • Charleston-WV
      • Commercial Litigation
      • Energy Law
      • Environmental Law
      • Litigation – Environmental
      • Oil & Gas Law
  • Metropolitan Tier 2
    • Pittsburgh
      • Labor Law – Management
    • Charleston-WV
      • Mining Law
      • Natural Resources Law
    • Washington, D.C.
      • Environmental Law
      • Litigation – Environmental
  • Metropolitan Tier 3
    • Pittsburgh
      • Mergers & Acquisitions Law
    • Charleston-WV
      • Bet-the-Company Litigation
      • Litigation – ERISA
      • Real Estate Law
    • Washington, D.C.
      • Oil & Gas Law

Firms included in the 2023 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.

Ranked firms, presented in tiers, are listed on a national and/or metropolitan scale. Receiving a tier designation reflects the high level of respect a firm has earned among other leading lawyers and clients in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism and their integrity.

The 2023 Edition of “Best Law Firms” includes rankings in 75 national practice areas and 127 metropolitan-based practice areas. One “Law Firm of the Year” is named in each of the nationally ranked practice areas.

Click here to view the full ranking on U.S. News U.S. News & World Report-Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list.

EmTech Celebrates at the Moonshot Museum

Babst Calland attorneys celebrated the opening of the Moonshot Museum and gathered for a special tour of the new Museum housed inside Astrobotic’s headquarters facility, with Justine Kasznica, the firm’s Emerging Tech practice chair and founding board member of the Museum. Babst Calland is a founding partner of the Museum.

To learn more about the Moonshot Museum, visit https://moonshotmuseum.org/.

Michael Korns Joins Babst Calland

Michael T. Korns recently joined Babst Calland as senior counsel in the Public Sector and Energy and Natural Resources groups.  Mr. Korns has wide experience with issues related to land use and advises both public sector bodies and private developers on issues related to municipal permitting, planning, subdivision and land use, and zoning.  He has significant experience litigating zoning and land use cases and has successfully argued zoning and land use matters in the Court of Common Pleas and the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.  He regularly appears in front of zoning hearing boards, planning commissions, and governing boards on behalf of private developers and impacted property owners.

Mr. Korns has served as a solicitor for municipalities, school districts, zoning hearing boards, and municipal authorities; he comes to Babst Calland as the current solicitor for multiple public bodies. Mr. Korns counsels and represents the Firm’s municipal clients on general municipal issues, including tax assessment appeals, municipal taxation, public bidding, Sunshine Act, the Right-to-Know Law, the State Ethics Act, general land use and zoning matters, and code enforcement.  He also advises the Firm’s energy clients on issues related to land use, permitting, zoning, and code compliance.

Prior to joining Babst Calland, Mr. Korns was senior counsel with Maiello, Brungo and Maiello, LLP. He is a 2006 graduate of Harvard Law School.


Devlin Carey Joins Babst Calland

Devlin E. Carey recently joined Babst Calland as an associate in the Litigation Group. Mr. Carey practices in a variety of litigation practice areas, including commercial, energy and natural resources, environmental and employment and labor.

Prior to joining Babst Calland, Mr. Carey was an associate with Shearman & Sterling in New York City. He is a 2021 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

Justine Kasznica Leads Moonshot Museum Grand Opening

Attorney Justine Kasznica who is also a Founding Board Member of the Moonshot Museum, led its grand opening on October 15. Babst Calland is honored to support and partner with the museum as Pennsylvania’s first space museum and first museum in the world focused on career readiness for the 21st century space industry.

Washington DC Attorney Sloane Wildman Joins Babst Calland

Babst Calland announced that Attorney Sloane Wildman has joined the firm’s Washington, D.C. office as a shareholder and member of its Environmental practice group.  

Sloane Wildman’s practice involves CERCLA and RCRA site remediation and counseling clients in all aspects of environmental law and regulation, including RCRA, CERCLA/EPCRA release reporting, Safe Drinking Water Act, TSCA, FIFRA, green marketing, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. She represents clients in administrative, civil judicial and criminal enforcement cases. Her wide-ranging RCRA experience includes counseling, defense of enforcement actions and permitting and encompasses all aspects of federal and state hazardous waste regulation, including solid and hazardous waste identification, generation, transportation, treatment, storage, disposal, closure and corrective action matters.

Ms. Wildman earned her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and received her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College.

Ms. Wildman is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and California (inactive) and before the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Southern Districts of California. She is a member of the District of Columbia Bar Association’s Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section and the American Bar Association’s Natural Resources, Energy and Natural Resources Section.