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Lawyer Donates $7.5M for Judicial Education

Few lawyers have won bigger verdicts and settlements than Thomas R. Kline.

Even fewer, if any, have given away more money to law schools. Kline, who donated $50 million to Drexel University Law School three years ago, has given another $7.5 million to Duquesne University School of Law.

It is the largest gift in the history of the Pennsylvania law school, and the first of its kind in the nation. The money will establish a judicial college.

Center for Judicial Education

"The creation of the Thomas R. Kline Center for Judicial Education, in partnership with the Pennsylvania courts, and in collaboration with other law schools, is the first of its kind in the nation," Duquesne University President Ken Gormley said in a press release. "We expect it to become a national model for judicial education in a new era."

The judicial college follows a recent directive from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which said all state court judges must take at least 12 hours of continuing legal education each year.

The Duquesne classes will be free, due largely to Kline's donation, the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts and volunteers from other law schools. Law professors will teach as a public service, along with experts in psychology, health sciences, and ethics.

"We're envisioning it going beyond the law schools to the universities themselves," Gormley said.

Attorney, Philanthropist

Kline, of Kline & Specter, may be Pennsylvania's most successful attorney. Super Lawyers has named him as the state's top attorney for 14 consecutive years.

He has won hundreds of seven- and eight-figure jury verdicts and settlements, including the recent settlement of Amtrak litigation that established a $265 million fund for passengers who had been injured or died. It is believed to be the largest settlement in railway history.

In 2014, he donated $50 million to Drexel to fund a scholarship, add faculty, and expand the law school's trial-advocacy program. In recognition of his gift, the school was renamed the Thomas R. Kline School of Law.

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