Thomas R. Kline
Thomas R. Kline, for whom the law school is named, is acknowledged as one of the nation’s most accomplished and respected trial lawyers, having dedicated more than four decades to the practice of catastrophic personal injury law.
A founding partner of the nationally recognized firm, Kline & Specter, Kline has gained widespread recognition as an exceptionally skillful advocate whose groundbreaking cases have helped shape the law and resulted in corporate, institutional and governmental reform through the civil justice system.
Elected to the prestigious American Law Institute in 2015, Kline has earned many accolades, including his selection as the No. 1 attorney in Pennsylvania by the independent rating service Super Lawyers for 15 consecutive years. Kline is among fewer than 100 lawyers named to the National Law Journal’s “Winning Hall of Fame.” He is the past president of the Inner Circle of Advocates, which the Washington Post has described as “a select group of 100 of the nation’s most celebrated trial lawyers.” In 2014, the Legal Intelligencer honored Kline with a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2016, he was awarded the Michael A. Musmanno Award of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association.
The Wall Street Journal identified Kline as a key player in litigation over Vioxx that resulted in a $4.85 billion settlement. He gained additional national prominence for his advocacy on behalf of victims of childhood sexual abuse in the Penn State Sandusky tragedy and for his advocacy against fraternity hazing in his representation of the parents of Timothy Piazza following his tragic death. His television appearances in these matters reached over 100 million people.
The Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals named Kline the Individual Philanthropist of the Year for 2015.
Kline has won scores of jury verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients. Many have achieved much notoriety, including a $51 million jury verdict on behalf of a 4-year-old boy whose foot was torn off in a subway escalator, which resulted in the rebuilding of the transit authority's massive broken escalator system. Among the significant jury verdicts and settlements are a $33 million jury verdict on behalf of a woman who received a late diagnosis of breast cancer and a $36.5 million settlement for the estate of a worker who died in a refinery explosion. A $42.9 million verdict he won in December 2013 on behalf of a child with cerebral palsy was among the largest medical malpractice verdicts in Pennsylvania history. He has represented many victims of tragedies of public importance, including the police shooting of Philippe Holland, which resulted in the largest non-death police shooting settlement in the nation. Kline was co-lead counsel in the Pier 34 collapse and lead plaintiffs' counsel in the Amtrak 188 derailment litigation and lead counsel in the Hoboken derailment litigation.
A graduate and recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award of Albright College, Kline began his career teaching sixth grade social studies in middle school. He earned his master’s degree in American History from Lehigh University and his JD from Duquesne University School of Law, where he received the Distinguished Student Award and Distinguished Alumni Award.
After graduating from law school, Kline clerked for Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Thomas W. Pomeroy. He practiced law with the late James E. Beasley at the Beasley Firm in the early part of his career.
Kline served four U.S. senators over two decades and chaired the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for more than a decade.
In 1995, Kline and Shanin Specter began a law firm that today is recognized among the Top 50 plaintiffs firms in the nation by the National Law Journal on its inaugural list of America’s Elite Trial Lawyers in 2014.
The chair of the law school’s Advisory Board, Kline also serves on the Drexel University Board of Trustees' Executive, Academic Affairs and Complex Transaction committees.