Penn State University, Dickinson School of Law

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This article is about the Dickinson School of Law. For the unrelated private liberal arts college, see Dickinson College.
The Pennsylvania State University, The Dickinson School of Law
Penn State Law logo.PNG
Motto Making Life Better
Established 1834
Type Public
Parent institution Pennsylvania State University
Dean James Houck
Academic staff 62 resident, 31 adjunct, 7 visiting
Students 596
Location University Park and Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA

Penn State University, The Dickinson School of Law (also known as Penn State Law) is the law school of Pennsylvania State University. Penn State Law, one of the professional graduate schools of Penn State, offers J.D., LL.M., S.J.D. degrees in law and hosts visiting scholars. The school offers a joint MBA/J.D. with the Smeal School of Business, as well as joint degrees with dozens of other Penn State University programs including the School of International Affairs. The law school operates as a unified two-location operation with facilities in both University Park, Pennsylvania and Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The two campuses operate meaningfully as a single enterprise, with a single identity, single reputation and single stature. The University Park Campus is Penn State's main campus, and it maintains over 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Carlisle, approximately 80 miles (130 km) southeast of University Park, is the original home of the law school.

The law school, named for Founding Father John Dickinson,[1] was opened by Judge John Reed in 1834, making it the seventh oldest law school in the United States and the oldest law school in Pennsylvania. Having merged with Penn State in 2000, it is home to over 600 law students, most of whom are earning the degrees of Juris Doctor (J.D.) or Master of Laws (LLM). Penn State Dickinson has a faculty and staff of over 100.

U.S. News and World Report, in its 2014 edition of America's Best Graduate Schools, ranked Penn State Dickinson 51st among the nation's top 218 law schools.[2]

In June 2007 Penn State established the School of International Affairs that is intimately linked with the law school. The School of International Affairs, which offers a professional master's degree in International Affairs with several specialty concentrations, is housed administratively within the law school. The two schools share similar educational objectives and outstanding faculty including Randall Robinson.

In the most recent Pennsylvania Bar Examination, 95.83% of Penn State's first time test takers passed; graduates took the bar in 25 states and achieved an average first time pass rate of 91%; 21.43% of second time test takes passed and the overall passage rate for the school of law was 86.36%.[3]

According to Penn State's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 44.5% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo practitioners.[4]

Dual-campus system[edit]

An independent law school since its creation in 1834, the Dickinson School of Law completed a merger with the Pennsylvania State University in 2000.[5] By 2005, a dispute over whether to move the Dickinson School of Law to Penn State's University Park campus in State College, Pennsylvania led to a dual-campus proposal. Under this proposal, Penn State has invested over $130 million in a law school that operates out of both locations. The proposal was approved by the law school's board of trustees before the 2005-2006 academic year.[6]

The law school has now fully merged with Penn State, and has been integrated into the University's system. Starting in the fall of 2006, the law school began offering classes at its University Park location. Ground was broken for the Lewis Katz Building on January 18, 2007.[7] The building opened for classes in January 2009.

In January 2010, students in the Carlisle location began attending classes in the new Lewis Katz Hall and the renovated Trickett Hall. The new facilities are the designs of Polshek Partnership Architects.

Lewis Katz Building[edit]

The Lewis Katz Building in University Park, Pennsylvania, opened for classes on January 9, 2009. The $60 million, 114,000-square-foot (10,600 m2) building is the first academic facility to be built on the west side of Park Avenue, opposite from Penn State's main campus. It is adjacent to the Penn State Arboretum.

The Lewis Katz Building is LEED certified and equipped with advanced high definition digital audiovisual telecommunications capacity that enables the real-time delivery of classes and programs between the law school's Carlisle and University Park campuses and other collaborative projects and programs with schools and institutions worldwide. The second floor includes the glass-enclosed library, with a two-story information commons, four group study rooms and 11 offices among the features. Library spaces comprise about 50 percent of the building.

In 2009, Judge D. Brooks Smith used the Lewis Katz Building's courtroom to hear an oral argument to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition to the courtroom, the Katz Building includes a 250-seat auditorium, four specially designed 75-person classrooms, several seminar rooms, and a highly advanced "board room" permitting electronic "face-to-face" contact with meeting participants worldwide.

Lewis Katz Hall[edit]

The centerpiece of the Carlisle building project is the addition of a new, signature Lewis Katz Hall, named in honor of the principal donor to the project, philanthropist and businessman, Lewis Katz, for his $15 million gift to the Law School. Completed in January 2010, the transition marks the end of a two-year, $52 million construction project which included the addition of the elegant, new Lewis Katz Hall which is completely interconnected with the University Park campus via the most advanced high-definition, digital audiovisual telecommunications system available.

The project included an extensive renovation of historic Trickett Hall, the Law School's home since 1918, which houses the Law School's library, named in honor of H. Laddie Montague, Jr., a prominent Philadelphia lawyer and trial attorney who has committed $4 million to the school. As a design companion to the Lewis Katz Building the Carlisle campus is renovated and rebuilt to comply with LEED standards, the facilities feature state-of-the-art classrooms, a new courtroom/auditorium, an exterior courtyard, and an environmentally friendly vegetated green roof.


Like many law schools, the first year program consists of required courses that include two semesters of research and writing. During their first year, 1Ls must complete courses in Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Property, Criminal Procedure and Torts. Only two courses are required after completion of the first year: Professional Responsibility and a Seminar. Students' remaining credits are to be filled with electives.

The law school is nationally recognized for its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program.

Student profile[edit]

The 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile GPAs and LSAT scores of the 185 students entering the school in Fall 2012 were 3.23/3.56/3.75 and 156/159/160 respectively. They came from 3,458 applicants. There were 92 male and 72 female matriculants from 119 different colleges, 40 majors, 27 states plus District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands, and four foreign countries. Their average age was 24 years, with a range of 20 to 44, and 18% were minorities.[8]

Institutes, centers and programs[edit]

Center for the Study of Mergers & Acquisitions[edit]

Headed by Samuel C. Thompson Jr., former director of the UCLA Center for the Study of Mergers and Acquisitions, the center examines corporate, securities, tax, antitrust, and other legal and economic issues that arise in mergers and acquisitions. An important part of the Center's mission is to sponsor continuing legal education programs addressing these issues.

Penn State Law and the New York City Bar co-sponsor the Institute on Corporate, Securities, and Related Aspects of Mergers and Acquisitions. The Institute, which has been co-chaired by Professor Thompson and H. Rodgin Cohen of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP for a number of years, is held at the Bar's facility in New York City. Sessions provide penetrating analyses of recent developments in this very dynamic area; speakers at the Institute included some of the world's leading M&A attorneys, investment bankers, and governmental officials.

Institute for Sports Law, Policy & Research[edit]

Directed by Professor Stephen Ross, one of the nation's leading sports law scholars, the Penn State Institute for Sports Law Policy and Research is designed to:

  • promote dialogue between students of sport and major industry participants
  • aid scholars in policy-oriented research and facilitate the dissemination of this research to policy makers and industry participants, and
  • serve as resource for journalists, lawyers and others connected about sports and public policy

The Institute is aided by an advisory board of prominent industry leaders, sports scholars from around the world, and Penn State faculty and alumni, all dedicated to advancing the study of sports. The Institute works closely with a faculty and staff from another of other disciplines on the Penn State campus, including the John Curley Center for Sports and Journalism, the Center for Sports Business Research in the Smeal College of Business, and the Departments of Kinesiology and Statistics. In addition, the Institute facilitates inter-disciplinary work with a variety of sports-interested faculty on the Penn State campus, sponsoring faculty colloquia and faculty/student reading groups. The Institute intends to feature programs that are of utmost importance to the field, including a speaker series featuring prominent industry leaders, private conferences to explore consensus approaches to difficult sports policy issues, and ongoing lectures to faculty and students.

Institute of Arbitration Law & Practice[edit]

The Penn State Institute of Arbitration Law and Practice was established in August 2005 to promote the study and scholarship of arbitration law and practice. Professor Thomas E. Carbonneau, the Samuel P. Orlando Distinguished Professor of Law, serves as faculty director and is widely considered to be one of the world's foremost authorities on international and domestic arbitration.

The Institute's publications include the World Arbitration and Mediation Review, the Smit-Carbonneau-Mistelis Guides to International Commercial Arbitration and the student publication Beyond Litigation.[9] The Institute also sponsors student participation in moot court competitions, including the prestigious annual Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot in Vienna, Austria, and hosts the Montreal Summer Study Program in Arbitration at the McGill University Faculty of Law in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Affiliated Penn State faculty include William E. Butler, John Edward Fowler Professor of Law and member of the Russia International Court of Commercial Arbitration; Tiyanjana Maluwa, H. Laddie and Linda P. Montague Professor of Law; Philip J. McConnaughay, dean and Donald J. Farage Professor of Law; Panagiotis Takis Tridimas, professor of law and Sir John Lubbock Professor of Banking Law at Queen Mary College, University of London.

Other Penn State law programs[edit]

  • Washington, D.C. Semester Program
  • International Justice Program at the Hague, Netherlands
  • Miller Center for Public Interest Advocacy
  • Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center
  • Arts, Sports, and Entertainment Law Clinic
  • Center for Immigrants' Rights
  • Children's Advocacy Clinic
  • Civil Rights Appellate Clinic
  • Community Law Clinic
  • Family Law Clinic
  • Study Abroad

Law journals[edit]

The Law School also features three scholarly journals, including the Penn State Law Review, formerly the Dickinson Law Review. The Law Review was founded in 1897, and is one of the oldest continually published law school journals in the country.

Student organizations[edit]

The Law School maintains an extensive roster of student organizations, including:

The school also participates in a number of moot court competitions including the prestigious Willem C. Vis Moot Commercial Arbitration Moot Court, held each year in Vienna, Austria and the National Environmental Law Moot Court held at Pace University in White Plains, New York.

Students at Penn State Law are active in intramural sports program. Current intramural sports include floor hockey, indoor soccer, flag football, volleyball, basketball and bowling.

Several students are also members of rugby and softball teams. Each spring, the school sends a softball team to participate in the University of Virginia Law School Softball Tournament.


According to Penn State's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 44.5% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo practitioners.[4] Penn State's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 37%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[10]

ABA Employment Summary for 2013 Graduates[11]
Employment Status Percentage
Employed - Bar Passage Required
Employed - J.D. Advantage
Employed - Professional Position
Employed - Non-Professional Position
Employed - Undeterminable
Pursuing Graduate Degree Full Time
Unemployed - Start Date Deferred
Unemployed - Not Seeking
Unemployed - Seeking
Employment Status Unknown
Total of 200 Graduates


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Penn State for the 2014-2015 academic year is $65,936.[12] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $240,101.[13]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "John Dickinson". Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  2. ^ Pennsylvania State University (Dickinson) | Best Law School | US News. Retrieved on 2014-06-17.
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "ABA Employment Summary - Class of 2013". 
  5. ^ Rafaele, Martha (2005-05-19). "Lawsuit opens over 2-campus Penn State law school plan". Gettysburg Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  6. ^ "Dickinson Law may get 2nd site at Penn State". Reading Eagle. Associated Press. 2005-01-16. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  7. ^ "Work begins on Penn State's Dickinson School of Law University Park facility". Penn State University. 2007-01-08. Retrieved 2007-01-23. 
  8. ^ "Penn State Law Facts at a Glance". Penn State Law. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "Penn State University Profile". 
  11. ^ "Employment Summary for 2013 Graduates". 
  12. ^ "Tuition and Related Expenses". 
  13. ^ "Penn State University Profile". 
  14. ^ "Pennsylvania Governor John Sydney Fine". National Governors Association. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  15. ^ "FITZPATRICK, Michael G., (1963 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  16. ^ "GERLACH, Jim, (1955 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Biographical Directory of Federal Judges Gibson, Kim R.". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  18. ^ "GLENN, Milton Willits, (1903 - 1967)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  19. ^ "HAND, Thomas Millet, (1902 - 1956)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  20. ^ "HEINER, Daniel Brodhead, (1854 - 1944)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  21. ^ "Pennsylvania Governor Arthur Horace James". National Governors Association. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  22. ^ "KANJORSKI, Paul E., (1937 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  23. ^ "MARINO, Thomas A., (1952 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  24. ^ Schackner, Bill (October 31, 2010). "Obituary: John C. Pettit / Former longtime Washington County district attorney". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved May 28, 2013. 
  25. ^ "RIDGE, Thomas Joseph, (1945 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  26. ^ "SANTORUM, Richard John (Rick), (1958 - )". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  27. ^ "SASSCER, Lansdale Ghiselin, (1893 - 1964)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved December 21, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Biographical Directory of Federal Judges: Vanaskie, Thomas Ignatius". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°48′27″N 77°52′00″W / 40.807539°N 77.866726°W / 40.807539; -77.866726