What Our Graduates Say

Michael Sparrow ‘08

The MSL program at Pitt Law provided me with an extraordinary opportunity to expand my legal knowledge without committing to a 3- or 4-year JD degree path. During my studies in the MSL program, I was immersed in the coursework and culture of Pitt Law. I sat shoulder to shoulder with traditional JD students in the classroom, and I had access to the same, world-class law faculty as those in the JD program. The MSL program, with its numerous tracks of academic inquiry, also gave me the flexibility to tailor my education to my professional interests, and I always felt personally and academically supported by the administrators of Pitt’s MSL program.

The MSL program gave me a solid, fundamental understanding of the law, and, perhaps more importantly, it gave me the skills to think like a lawyer. This lawyer mindset has served me well in my former role as a college administrator, where I used those skills to interpret the sometimes ambiguous and opaque state and federal educational regulations and also to craft, interpret, and apply internal campus policies effectively and equitably. In my current role, as an Assistant Professor in Morgan State’s Community College Leadership program, I am positioned well to teach law, policy, and ethics graduate courses, owing in large part to my education in the MSL program at Pitt Law. If you are someone who works in a law-adjacent field, take some time to consider Pitt’s MSL program.  

Patricia Blount ’20 - Health Care Compliance

After completing Pitt Law’s Health Care Compliance Online Graduate Certificate Program, as a physician interested in clinical research compliance, I decided to continue my education in the MSL program.  The MSL degree has enhanced my legal credibility with lawyers and administrators I work with. Additionally, it provided me a new body of knowledge in intellectual property law that I plan to leverage by expanding my compliance activities into the area of intellectual property rights. 

One of the most rewarding parts of being a MSL student was being fully integrated into the law school. I had access to the same resources and the same classes as the JD students which provided me a true law school experience and a lawyer’s perspective when working with my attorney colleagues on compliance-related matters. 

I also appreciated the personalized attention I received from the faculty and staff--the program director as my academic advisor; the program administrator; each of my law school professors who were always available during and outside of office hours; and from the IT team, the fabulous teaching assistants, and my fellow students who provided me their valuable insights and assistance. 

Flannery O'Rourke '19 - Self-Design Specialization

The Master of Studies in Law program at the University of Pittsburgh truly changed my life.  The program provides non-lawyers rare access to in-depth legal knowledge. Through the program I was empowered and encouraged to see how intended and unintended effects of laws, policies and regulations can serve to advantage some, while disserving others. Further, I felt championed and challenged by the professors and coursework and this directly increased my professional competence and my personal confidence.  The professors and program administrators were and remain committed mentors to me, hearing my concerns and informing my choices. Applying to the Master of Studies in Law program is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Jessica Moss '18 – Self-Designed Specialization

During my time at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, I was exposed to an intrepid and fantastic world that I had yet to experience in my professional career.

My professional work is focused on the intersection of the arts, education and advocacy. I build artist's spaces in dilapidated communities with the goal of economic redevelopment. Throughout my career, my roles and positions have been working for artists directly or within museums, galleries or non-profit community centers.

The MSL program offered the opportunity to shape and build a legal curriculum that would be completely unique to me, my interests and professional experience. During my year of study, I focused on the intersection of art, property and race in this country-- something not offered at any other graduate program in the US. I was able to gain a deeper insight into the diverse perspectives of legal professionals who are still actively engaged in their specific fields, like Professor Gerald Dickinson, leading the national discussion concerning racial injustices in real estate and property law, and Professor Michael Madison, an international scholar in the world of copyright and trademark law.

My fellow students were full of diverse perspectives, opinions and experiences, which only made for a more rich and valuable experience. As a result, my professional network has expanded dramatically, providing access to spaces, places and people I otherwise wouldn't have has access to.

As a graduate of the MSL program, I use my degree every day. From reading through artist's contracts to developing short-term lease agreements for residencies, my year of study at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law continues to supplement my work and career in invaluable ways.

Denise Simpson ’03 – Family Law  

"Getting a JD degree was out of the question due to mommy duties, the financial commitment, and my age. I was an older student sometimes the oldest in my class; however, I don’t think anyone noticed.  

My concentration in the MSL Program was Family Law, and I also studied corporate law including nonprofit organizations. Because of my MSL education, I was able to create, incorporate and do my own tax-exempt paperwork to create a 501(c)(3) nonprofit homeless shelter for women.  To date, I have helped two other organizations become tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.  

Somedays I wish I could afford to take more classes. I loved it there."

Joel Lim '07 – Corporate Law

"I would say that the MSL program has always been necessary in practically all aspects of business. The job I had immediately after the MSL program was with Ernst & Young’s corporate restructuring practice in Singapore where I had to communicate with lawyers on a daily basis."

Stephanie Minnaugh '03 – Intellectual Property and Technology Law

“The MSL program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law gave me a unique opportunity to focus a year of graduate study on intellectual property rights.  Not only has my master’s degree opened up a new horizon of career options, but it has also strengthened my critical thinking and analysis skills tremendously.”

Kathryn Beckman '03 – Intellectual Property and Technology Law

“Having the opportunity to participate in the University of Pittsburgh Law School’s Master of Studies in Law Program was beneficial to me in many ways.  While I did not have plans to become a lawyer, I wanted to experience law school and to develop the analytical and reasoning skills of a lawyer.  The MSL program not only provided this training, but also offered a concentration in Intellectual Property law which has been my career field for more than 20 years.  Through the program, I was able to obtain more in-depth knowledge of that area of law.  The skills and legal knowledge I gained in the MSL program have proven to be most valuable to me in my position as the Administrator of the International Department of a major Washington, DC Intellectual Property law firm.”

Patrick Hoffman '05 – Real Estate Law

“On a daily basis I interact with attorneys involved in our often complicated commercial real estate and construction issues.  The MSL Program has improved my ability to communicate with legal counsel on both sides of any given issue and understand the landscape of the legal system.  A deeper fundamental understanding of the law enables me to speak the attorney’s language and navigate any given legal situation better.”

Barbara Strelec ’07 – Health Law

“The MSL program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law has enabled me to advance in the fast-paced environment of research compliance.  The Health Law concentration has provided the necessary analytical skills to be an effective problem solver in this heavily regulated field.  In addition, I now have a deeper understanding of the historical and policy content in which these regulations evolved.  This unique master’s degree is well-suited to those individuals with a clinical background in healthcare who wish to apply that knowledge to the legal and policy aspects of the healthcare industry.”

Kristeena Li '10 – International Law and Human Rights

“I obtained a position as Legislative Analyst for the County of Los Angeles, Chief Executive Office—where I analyze legislation daily and work with attorneys in our County Counsel—after graduating from the MSL Program.  There were 2,200 applicants for this position that was open for applications for only 48 hours, and I was one out of six individuals hired.  At my interview with the Chief Executive Office and Department of Human Resources, most of the content I discussed was drawn from my MSL experience.  Without my MSL experience, I would not be where I am today, professionally and personally.”

Alumni Survey Outcomes

A survey of graduates of the Pitt Law MSL program revealed that more than 80 percent felt that the knowledge, ability to engage in legal analysis, and reasoning skills they had gained from their MSL education had improved their ability to analyze and solve problems in their work settings.

Over 50 percent responded that the knowledge of law gained through their MSL education has been an important factor in their taking on new responsibilities at work, and 45 percent said it had contributed to their obtaining a promotion or better salary. Finally, almost 70 percent said that the MSL degree had been a helpful credential in their career advancement.