DU law clinic to be located on Fifth Avenue

lawschoolBy Pat Higgins | Asst. Sports Editor

With help from a $500,000 grant from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program and a $250,000 grant from the Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority, the University plans to move its Clinical Legal Education program to a vacant building on Fifth Avenue by the fall.

The clinic currently operates in Fisher Hall. The move will double the clinic’s size and provide a facility exclusively for law students to increase the faculty’s ability to provide students with experience. It will also allow the school to fulfill its mission of service to the poor with its proximity to both the Uptown community and the courthouse Downtown.

Ken Gormley, dean of the law school, said the new clinic is not only “going to do great things for our students, but also directly impact the community in a positive way,” by offering a clinic that caters and provides legal attention and direction to residents in the Uptown community.

“It’s obvious that the legal profession is clamoring for more skills training in law school, and now we’re about to be much better at that,” Gormley said. “We’re going to have a building in Uptown that will be directly serving the community, two blocks from the courthouse. This will double our space available for students … All of these pieces come together and really give students the full package of opportunities to be excellent lawyers.”

Laurie Serafino, director of the Clinical Legal Education Program, said the application of what students learn in the field plays a role in finding jobs after they graduate.

“It makes them much more marketable when they look for a job,” she said. “Whatever the area of law they want to go into, they will have something to show that they have experience in that field. Now, with clinical programs playing such an important part, they are able to practice law. It’s not only the mission aspect of it that’s so important to the students, they’re also really helping themselves get practical experience that is vital to getting a job.

The school recently ranked No. 144 nationally in a list of the top law schools across the country in a report released by U.S. News & World Report. The new and improved facility will only help to bolster the school’s reputation, something it has done already, according to President Charles J. Dougherty.

“The law school has taken great strides in improved scholarship, in developing outreach to the community through its legal clinics,” Dougherty said. “We’ve really made a name for ourselves nationally.”

Although Serafino and Gormley are both excited about the improvement in education the new facility will provide to students now and into the future. Gormley said the most important aspect of the move is the impact it will have in the University’s service initiative.

“One of the things that I’ve tried to focus on [as dean] is public service in a broad way,” Gormley said. “That’s what I believe we’re training students to do, to serve others, whether as private lawyers or in positions as public officials, and we have a great legacy of doing that and I want to keep building that up. It’s the Spiritan mission. It’s what Duquesne University is all about, and [the move] fits perfectly with the mission of our law school. It’s how we want to be defined, because it’s what we value most and what we’re good at.”\

Photo by: Fred Blauth | Photo Editor

Caption: Duquesne’s Clinical Education will move from Fisher Hall to a vacant building on Fifth Avenue by the fall. The program received $750,000 in grant money to put towards the move.