Thomas R. Kline, a distinguished figure in the legal realm, has achieved a significant and unprecedented milestone, becoming the only living attorney to have two law schools named after him in the state of Pennsylvania. With an illustrious career spanning decades, Kline has cemented his legacy not only through his notable legal victories but also through his enduring commitment to philanthropy and the advancement of legal education.
The recent rebranding of Duquesne University’s law school to the Thomas R. Kline School of Law of Duquesne University follows a monumental $50 million donation by Kline. This transformative contribution has been hailed as the largest gift in the university’s history, underscoring Kline’s deep-seated dedication to nurturing legal education and providing avenues for aspiring legal professionals to thrive.
Kline’s connection with Duquesne University dates back to his graduation from the institution’s law school in 1978. Subsequently, he co-founded the reputable law firm Kline & Spector, specializing in personal injury and malpractice cases. The firm’s significant achievements, including securing an $8 billion verdict against Johnson & Johnson in 2019 over the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal, have solidified Kline’s standing as an eminent legal practitioner. His involvement in high-profile cases, such as the litigation surrounding the tragic 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia and the Jerry Sandusky molestation case at Penn State University, has further bolstered his reputation within the legal community.
In response to the renaming of Duquesne’s law school, Kline expressed a profound sense of pride in his alma mater, highlighting his enduring commitment to strengthening the institution’s future and fostering a conducive environment for legal education to thrive.
Beyond his substantial donation to Duquesne Law, Kline’s philanthropic endeavors in the legal education sector extend to his earlier contribution of $7.5 million in 2017 to establish a judicial education center for Pennsylvania judges and court personnel. With this recent contribution, Kline’s vision encompasses the holistic development of legal education, emphasizing the importance of accessible scholarships, faculty grants, comprehensive bar preparation resources, and the establishment of new clinics within the law school.
The recognition of Kline through the naming of not just one but two law schools marks a significant development within the legal education landscape. While historically, law schools have often been named after prominent historical figures, the recognition of a contemporary living attorney in this manner reflects the profound impact of Kline’s contributions to the legal profession and legal education. Moreover, recent discussions regarding the renaming of institutions associated with individuals with controversial historical legacies underscore a broader trend of reevaluating the historical narratives embedded within academic institutions.
Kline’s philanthropic initiatives stand as a testament to his unwavering dedication to the advancement of the legal profession and the empowerment of future generations of legal professionals. By providing substantial support to enhance educational opportunities and resources within the legal education sector, Kline’s contributions are poised to leave an indelible mark on the legal community, fostering a legacy that transcends the confines of his own successful legal career. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, Kline’s commitment to fostering excellence in legal education serves as a guiding beacon, inspiring others to contribute to the holistic development and advancement of the legal profession.