A Message from the Dean

Dean Gary GildinI simply love to teach. I particularly enjoy watching my students acquire the analytical, problem-solving, and persuasion skills they’ll use on a daily basis while serving their clients. But as much as I like being in the classroom, my favorite part of the day is joining students around a table in the Commons for informal discussions about topics inside and outside the world of the law. I sincerely believe that the moments I treasure represent the distinctive features of Penn State’s Dickinson Law—what we teach, and the environment in which our students learn.

Established in 1834 as the first law school in Pennsylvania, Dickinson Law has a well-deserved reputation for producing first-rate lawyers due in no small measure to the fact that every member of our faculty has had a distinguished career practicing law. While they continue to engage with the legal profession through their scholarship and public service, the number one priority and passion of our faculty is our students. But having exceptional and caring teachers is not sufficient to prepare you to succeed. A law school must teach the right skills in the right way. Rapid and radical changes in the competencies a lawyer needs to effectively represent clients in an interconnected and global society prompted our faculty to reinvent the substance of our curriculum and expand the forum of instruction from the classroom to real-world settings. We are committed to a single goal—to ensure that our students graduate ready to practice law in a competitive and ever-changing marketplace.

An equally distinctive part of the Dickinson Law experience is our community. This is one of the reasons we aim to limit our entering class to no more than 100 students. Without compromising academic rigor, our professors are supportive of your success. We not only view community as a proper ethos, but also believe that cultivating the interpersonal skills, respect, and tolerance that promote community will enable our students to more professionally and sensitively counsel their clients and accomplish their professional goals.

You’ll immediately begin putting your skills into practice by serving the community in your first year. Your classmates will be your partners, not your competitors. And, our loyal and involved alumni will become your mentors.

I look forward to welcoming you into the Dickinson Law family.