Personal injury lawyer gets another namesake law school with $50 million giveaway

REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

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  • Plaintiffs’ attorney Thomas Kline now has two Pennsylvania law schools named after him
  • His $50 million gift to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh will fund scholarships and bar prep resources

Sep 8 (Reuters) – Philadelphia personal injury lawyer Thomas Kline on Wednesday became the only living attorney to have two law schools named after him.

Duquesne University announced a rebranding of its law school following a $50 million pledge from Kline that it called the largest donation in the university’s history. The Pittsburgh school is now called the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Duquesne University.

Drexel University Law School has also been the Thomas R. Kline School of Law since 2014, when Kline donated $50 million to the Philadelphia institution.

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Kline earned her Duquesne law degree in 1978 before launching a successful career as a trial attorney and co-founder of the personal injury and malpractice law firm Kline & Spector, which has more than 50 attorneys and five offices.

The company won an $8 billion verdict against Johnson & Johnson in 2019 over the antipsychotic drug Risperdal. Kline has also represented parties in litigation involving the 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people and in the Penn State University indecent assault case of Jerry Sandusky.

“I have long been proud of my alma mater and happy to have played a role in strengthening its future,” Kline said in an announcement of the donation and name change.

In 2017, Kline gave Duquesne Law $7.5 million to establish a Judicial Training Center for Pennsylvania judges and court personnel. His latest donation will fund scholarships, faculty grants for teaching and scholarship, bar prep and new clinics, the university said.

Two law schools are currently named after early 19th-century United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, though a third dropped his name in 2021 and another is considering a similar move after de new information has surfaced about the number of slaves owned by Marshall.

The law schools at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland are both named after Carey as a result of donations from the WP Carey Foundation, but they are named after different deceased members of the Carey family.

Read more:

Another law school is considering a name change due to a slave-holding Supreme Court justice

Florida Law School gets another $40 million from namesake donor

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Reporting by Karen Sloan

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Jon J. Epps