Duquesne Law school receives historic gift from alum

Alicia Dye | News Editor | Students of the law school in front of the new sign, wearing new law school shirts.

Alicia Dye | News Editor

Sept. 8, 2022

Duquesne announced that the Duquesne Law School received a $50 million gift from Thomas R. Kline, a Duquesne law alumnus, making it the largest gift in university history.

The gift mirrors one given to Drexel in 2014, where a school is named for him as well, The Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University.

President Ken Gormley also announced that The Duquesne School of Law will be renamed The Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University, honoring Kline’s gift to the university.

The gift will allow the law school to provide scholarships to more students, provide faculty and staff with grants for excellence in teaching and scholarship, the school’s bar preparation program and more, according to the law school’s Dean April Barton.

Kline has been practicing law for more than four decades in personal injury law. He is a founding partner of Kline & Specter, described by The Philadelphia Inquirer as “one of the nation’s leading personal injury firms”. Kline has been listed as one of the top lawyers by Lawdragon and many other publications.

In 2020, he received the “Best of the Bar” achievement award presented by the Philadelphia Business Journal. Kline has achieved hundreds of seven- and eight-figure jury verdicts and settlements over his career with some of his notable cases being an $80 million jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson for a woman who was injured by a surgically implanted vaginal mesh device and an $8 billion punitive damages verdict against J&J and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals for side effects of a drug called Risperdal.

Gormley was happy to announce the gift and praised Kline.

“This gift is so special. It allows the school to soar,” Gormley said. “Kline’s story is quintessentially Duquesne.

“Tom’s dream was to give something special back to the law students. Tom is fulfilling that dream.”

John McGinley, the university’s chair of board of directors , was proud of Kline and the university.

“I’m proud that you are our alum,” McGinley said. “Your gift helps us fulfill our mission of serving God by serving students.”

Kline was emotional throughout the event.

“I never thought it would be like this,” Kline said. “I was here last year for a lunch and I recognized that this was home.

“I have long been proud of my alma mater and have been happy to have played a role in strengthening its future.”

The announcement concluded up by revealing the new sign on the law school.

Law students and faculty got shirts and hats with the new law school name, and were also treated to free food.

Some of the free food included Moonlit Burgers, Millie’s ice cream and premade sandwiches that students could grab to eat.

The gift is the largest single commitment in all of Duquesne’s history.

“President Ken Gormley and Dean April Barton have immediate plans to empower students and faculty to lead,” Kline said. “Their work will have a magnificent impact on students, the region and the profession itself. I share their goals and ambitions for the law school.”