The University of Pittsburgh School of Law is delighted to announce the appointment of John Gismondi (JD ’78), Larry Lebowitz (JD ’87), Paige Forster (JD ’06), and Bret Grote (JD ’13), as Professors of Practice. The professorships of practice are awarded to outstanding and renowned practitioners whose teaching is informed by their substantial expertise in their respective fields.
John Gismondi (JD ’78) entered private practice in 1981, after serving a three-year term as a law clerk in federal district court, limiting his practice to one area of the law—helping victims and their families in personal injury litigation. In a national rating of lawyers’ abilities, the nation’s most-recognized reference source on lawyers, Martindale-Hubbell, gives Gismondi an A/V rating, which is their highest rating for both legal ability and personal qualities such as reliability, diligence, and ethics. He has been named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer and is listed in Best Lawyers in America. Super Lawyers listed him as one of the Top 10 Lawyers in Pennsylvania. In 2013, The Legal Intelligencer, the nation’s oldest legal journal, honored him with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his impact on the legal profession in Pennsylvania over the past 20 years.
Gismondi has served as President of the Allegheny County Bar Association, the PA Trial Lawyers Association, Western PA Chapter, and the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Medical Malpractice Section of the PA Association for Justice. Gismondi is also an invited member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the nation’s most prestigious group of courtroom attorneys.
In addition to his full-time practice, Gismondi is actively involved at the University of Pittsburgh where he has served as an Adjunct Professor for two decades. With his active support and assistance, Pitt Law established the John P. Gismondi Civil Litigation Certificate Program, a unique curriculum designed to provide special training to law students who wish to become courtroom attorneys. In 2008, the Law School named Gismondi as the recipient of its “Distinguished Alumnus” award. In 2012, the university at large named him a “Legacy Laureate,” a select honor reserved for only its most prominent graduates.
Larry Lebowitz (JD ’87) is a Shareholder and a member of the Immigration group, serving as Dentons Cohen & Grigsby's Director of Partner Development. He was previously Vice President of Marketing. As the Founder and Chair of the Immigration group at Dentons Cohen & Grigsby (formerly Cohen & Grigsby), Lebowitz represents public and private employers in securing temporary and permanent visas for foreign national employees and helps individual clients pursue family-based permanent residence, as well as U.S. citizenship. Lebowitz has also helped to establish and continues to oversee the outbound/global immigration practice, which secures work-authorized visas for people in countries throughout the world. Lebowitz has taught immigration law at Pitt Law since 1997. For 25 years, he has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America for Immigration Law. He was also selected to the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list and Who's Who in Law Education.
Paige Forster (JD ’06) is a judicial law clerk to the Honorable D. Michael Fisher, Senior Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and Pitt Law’s Distinguished Jurist in Residence. Previously, in private practice, Forster handled appeals in federal and state courts as well as dispositive motions at the trial level. Her representation covered a wide range of substantive areas including product liability, financial services, contract disputes, employment, class actions, and constitutional law. She worked on cases in multiple U.S. Courts of Appeals and state appellate courts. She also provided support for high-profile trials. Forster’s appellate practice included several significant pro bono representations, including filing an amicus brief on behalf of a criminal defendant in the Second Circuit; representing prisoners who appealed to the Third Circuit; and representing an individual seeking to appear on Pennsylvania’s primary ballot in his appeals to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth and Supreme Courts. She is Pitt Law’s co-faculty advisor to the University of Pittsburgh School of Law Moot Court Board.
Bret Grote (JD ’13) is the co-founder and legal director of the Abolitionist Law Center, a public interest non-profit that works to end mass incarceration. He has worked with the Human Rights Coalition since 2007 as an investigator, organizer, and researcher. Grote was the Isabel and Alger Hiss Racial Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights in 2012, and, during his time at Pitt Law, was recognized as a Distinguished Public Interest Scholar.