DU announces creation of groundbreaking law center

Raymond Arke | News Editor

On July 25, Duquesne announced the creation of the Thomas R. Kline Center for Judicial Education within the Duquesne School of Law. The new center was funded by the largest individual gift in Duquesne’s law school history, totaling $7.5 million from its namesake, a 1978 Duquesne Law alum and nationally respected lawyer.

The Kline Center for Judicial Education is touted as the first of its kind in the United States. Based in the School of Law, it is a partnership between all nine law schools in Pennsylvania to provide free courses for all of Pennsylvania’s judges.

The center was introduced in a livestream event that featured Duquesne President Ken Gormley, as well as Thomas Kline, Law School Dean Maureen Lally-Green and Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Saylor.

In his remarks, Gormley claimed that the Kline Center will create “an unprecedented network” of resources to help with the ongoing education of Pennsylvania judges. It will lead to what Gormley called a “supersized version of judicial education.”

Chief Justice Saylor, who called it a “momentous event,” said that the center would “catch the attention of the whole country.”

Gormley praised Kline for his generosity, calling him an “extraordinary human being [and] one of the most successful lawyers in the United States.” He also noted that Kline received the Duquesne Distinguished Student Award upon graduation from the law school.

Kline said that the gift was to help the Pennsylvania judiciary continue to learn and grow.

“This gift is about the future of the judiciary,” Kline said. “There is a need for a fair, balanced administration of justice … [and] we need an educated judiciary.”

Bringing together law students and experienced judges will help improve all of Pennsylvania’s legal parts, Kline said.

“Our legal system and legal culture are stronger when we work together … It is an opportunity to marry these disparate parts … and put them together,” he said. “[We] merged the classroom and the courtroom.”

Kline likened the center to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, as it offers a direct channel for “information between those who train our lawyers and our judges.”

Lally-Green spoke toward the end of the program and professed her appreciation for the gift.

“This is a moment to be grateful … [and] a tremendous honor,” Lally-Green said.

The event fittingly closed with the playing of “Duquesne Whistle,” a song by Kline’s favorite artist, Bob Dylan.

Kline is listed in The Best Lawyers in America publication. He also is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. Kline has had a storied and distinguished career as a personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia and won one of the largest medical malpractice verdicts in Pennsylvania history in 2013.