Returning Student Letter from Dean Carter

Dear Returning Students:

I hope that your summer has been productive and enjoyable. The faculty and staff are preparing for your return, and we are all looking forward to another great year.

I continue to be impressed by the accomplishments of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The University of Pittsburgh School of Law is a dynamic and excellent place, and I look forward to continuing to advance the Law School and to work with you to advance your individual career and personal aspirations.

What’s new at the School of Law over the summer? Our Director of Professional and Career Development continues her efforts to expand and improve the operations and programming of the PDO, with the goal of providing you with increased support and career opportunities. I encourage you to take full advantage of all the programming and opportunities that the Professional Development Office provides throughout the academic year. Additionally, I continue to personally meet with and reach out to numerous employers in the Pittsburgh region and around the country, in order to share with them the many ways in which Pitt Law students are prepared and eager to begin their professional careers.

Because placing our graduates in fulfilling and successful careers remains the Law School’s paramount mission, I am very pleased to report that we achieved double-digit increases in every key placement metric for the Class of 2013.  For example, the number of Pitt Law graduates employed in jobs requiring bar admission increased by 19% and those employed in jobs for which bar admission was required or a J.D. was an advantage increased by 18%.  Our placement rate for the Class of 2013 in full-time, long-term, bar passage required positions surpassed most of our peers, including Penn State, Duquesne, American University, the University of Cincinnati, Villanova, and the University of Maryland, and placed us third out of the eight Pennsylvania law schools on this metric.  Moreover, the number of Pitt Law graduates who obtained employment as judicial clerks nearly doubled (from 13 in 2012 to 25 in 2013), outpacing the national average and outperforming law schools such as Wake Forest, William & Mary, Case Western, WVU, Cincinnati, and Duquesne, among many others. While we still have room for improvement, I believe these placement results show our strong upward trajectory. 

In terms of other news:

  • Pitt Law was ranked 12th among all U.S. public law schools, 29th of all U.S. law schools (public or private), and second in Pennsylvania (just behind the University of Pennsylvania) in the most recent QS World University Rankings by Subject (Law);
  • Our February bar passage rate was 93.3% for first-time takers, which placed us second out of the eight Pennsylvania law schools (behind only the University of Pennsylvania) and was also 21% higher than the statewide average;
  • Our faculty was ranked in the Top 50 nationally in the most recent Sisk-Leiter Study of Law Faculty Impact (2012).
  • Our Health Law Program was ranked 14th nationally by U.S. News this past year;
  • Our ranking among the legal employers in the most recent U.S. News survey increased to 51st in the nation (out of nearly 200 law schools), the highest ranking since 2011; and
  • Our overall U.S. News ranking increased by 10 points, representing our largest single-year increase ever and the first year since 2002 that our ranking has gone up by more than a nominal amount.

We continue to offer our (free) in-house supplemental summer bar exam course that was first instituted in the summer of 2013 and have hired a new Director of Bar Exam Services, Rob Wible, who joined the Law School in April 2014. We also continue to expand and deepen our Energy Law Initiative, having added several new courses, formed the Pitt Law Energy Law Advisory Board (comprised of members of prominent law firms, businesses, and non-profits), and hosted our inaugural Energy Law & Policy Institute in downtown Pittsburgh in August 2013. We also continue to advance in the area of public interest law.  We have developed a dozen new paid summer fellowships for our students with regional legal services agencies, through the generous support of alumnus John Gismondi and in collaboration with the Allegheny County Bar Association.  We have continued to grow our Loan Repayment Assistance Program, and have secured further contributions to our Derrick A. Bell Fund, established in honor of Professor Bell (Pitt Law ‘57) to encourage students to work in social justice and access to justice.

Our faculty has maintained their sustained commitment to teaching over the summer, with several faculty members preparing to teach new and exciting courses. They have also continued to publish influential legal scholarship that has a positive impact on the law and the legal profession, which increases the Law School’s visibility and reputation. Moreover, we continue our work in reassessing our curriculum to ensure that we adapt to the evolving practice of law.

I’m looking forward to your return next week. We’ll see you soon. 



William M. Carter, Jr.