Penn State Dickinson Law Announces Newly Revitalized Approach and Program Under Separate Accreditation

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Nation’s Fifth Oldest Law School Focuses on Developing Practice-Ready Lawyers for a Global Legal Marketplace

Penn State Dickinson Law

Nation’s fifth oldest law school focuses on developing practice-ready lawyers for a global legal marketplace

“The first year of law school has been essentially the same for more than 150 years. With our new curriculum we plan to change that model, offering a fresh, cutting-edge alternative for career-minded students,” said Interim Dean Gary S. Gildin.

On the heels of being granted accreditation for a separate law school within the Penn State University system, The Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, PA announced a revitalized approach to legal education. With a core focus on producing practice-ready lawyers for a competitive, global market, the new Penn State Dickinson Law program places a heavy emphasis on experiential learning, paired with foundational understanding of national and transnational law.

“We are going to do things differently,” said Interim Dean Gary S. Gildin. “The first year of law school has been essentially the same for more than 150 years. With our new curriculum we plan to change that model, offering a fresh, cutting-edge alternative for career-minded students.”

Dickinson Law’s progressive curriculum for first year students includes courses that establish the core doctrinal, theoretical and policy foundations of law and extra legal competencies, along with requirements to put the training to use in real-world situations.

New components of the program include:

  •     Degree completion will require practicing law in a real-world setting, achieved through in-house clinics, internships, and semester-in-practice programs.
  •     The “Lawyer As…” curriculum guides students through elective courses that best prepare them for a specific professional field, such as public interest advocate, prosecutor or defender, or business advisor.
  •     A focus on lawyering in a global society introduces international and transnational sources of law in the 1L year to the otherwise traditional domestic law education.
  •     Market-driven courses teach students the different ways a law degree can be used as well as critical competencies beyond lawyering skills, such as project management and business development.

“Beginning the first day of classes, our students will immediately begin practical training,” Gildin said. “A Dickinson Law education will prepare students to be experienced, employable, and successful in their legal careers.”

Through a rigorous admissions process, Dickinson Law plans to maintain intentionally small class sizes with a maximum of 75 students for each incoming class. Students will benefit from a supportive community through their education and eventual employment, individual focus, and significant interaction with professors who have practiced law and continue to be engaged with the legal profession.

Dickinson Law considers its location a unique advantage. Gildin said that Carlisle provides an ideal environment for a practice-based law school education, with proximity to capital regions and major legal markets, including Harrisburg, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore. Proximity to the Penn State Hershey Medical Center also will allow students to take advantage of a planned Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic.

The school remains a part of the Penn State system, supported by the university’s resources, reputation, and strong network while operating under independently accredited status with a separate dean and its own admissions department. A new website visually reinforces the new identity of Dickinson Law, highlighting the school’s revitalized environment. Graduates of the program will earn their degree and diploma under the name of The Dickinson School of Law of The Pennsylvania State University.

“We are proud to start a new chapter in the 180-year history of Dickinson Law,” Gildin added. “By remaining a part of the Penn State family with separate ABA accreditation, we have both the autonomy and the resources in place to train and support the next generation of first-rate Dickinson Law alumni.”

About The Penn State Dickinson School of Law
Founded in 1834, The Dickinson School of Law is the oldest law school in Pennsylvania, and the fifth oldest in the country. Our 1997 merger with Penn State expanded our reputation, network and joint degree programs—complementing Dickinson Law’s legacy as an innovative leader in experiential education. Our graduates represent the nation’s finest attorneys, judges, government and corporate leaders, and legal educators. Our mission is to foster a supportive environment to produce practice-ready lawyers through experiential learning and understanding of the legal foundation taught by experienced faculty. Dickinson Law operates under separate accreditation within the Penn State University system. Gary S. Gildin is the Interim Dean of Dickinson Law. For more information, visit

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