Eight years ago, Philadelphia attorney Thomas R. Kline gave $50 million to Drexel University’s relatively new law school, and in return it bears his name.
On Wednesday, Kline did the same for Duquesne Law School, his alma mater, which will now be called the Thomas R. Kline Law School in Duquesne. The Pittsburgh-based university announced the donation was the largest in its 144-year history.
“It was a natural step for me to take today,” Kline said in a phone interview from Duquesne, where he had just given a class as part of the day’s festivities surrounding the announcement. “That means about three out of ten Pennsylvania law school graduates will be at a Kline law school, one on one side of the state and one on the other.”
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Kline, who received his law degree from Duquesne in 1978, is one of the nation’s foremost litigators. He co-founded Kline & Specter PC in 1995 with his partner Shanin Specter, son of the late US Senator Arlen Specter, which became one of the leading companies dealing with catastrophic injury cases. The firm also specializes in medical malpractice cases and has won heavy verdicts in high-profile cases.
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Kline said Drexel officials are aware of and supportive of his gift to Duquesne and that his commitment to Drexel Law School remains unwavering.
Kline in an interview and Drexel Law School Dean Daniel Filler in a statement to students and colleagues hinted that more financial support could be provided by Kline.
“I am pleased to report that we are currently having important conversations with Tom about building on his already generous support of our law school,” Filler wrote.
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Filler also noted that the law schools in Drexel and Duquesne already collaborate through the Thomas R. Kline Center for Judicial Education, which was established in Duquesne in 2017 and helps courts provide continuing judicial education to judges in the state.
“Through the center, professors share their expertise with Pennsylvania trial and appellate judges,” Filler wrote. “We anticipate law schools will continue to work together to support legal ethics across the state.”
At Duquesne, the donation will support scholarships and faculty awards for excellence in teaching and scholarship, among other priorities of the 111-year-old law school, Duquesne said.
Kline said he was thrilled to give back to his alma mater and saw the gift as “an investment in the future of the legal profession in Pennsylvania.”
Duquesne was especially happy that the gift came from Kline.
“We are proud that one of our most distinguished alumni, who so impressively represented Duquesne on the national and global stage, is now helping to shape the next century of our renowned law school,” the president said. from Duquesne, Ken Gormley, who had previously served as dean of the law school.