Sciullo leveraged Duquesne’s position as a church-related law school as a strength at a time when many questioned the ethics of some legal professionals. As society became more complex, though, he observed that incoming students were better prepared to face such scrutiny, and to frame legal issues within historical, philosophical and psychological perspectives. 

“Fortunately, the people coming to our Law School today are better equipped to see these problems,” Sciullo told Juris in 1986. “The greatest strength of the Law School today may be found in the young people themselves. They bring with them traditional qualities as well as an understanding of the new problems.” The same could be said of Sciullo’s successor. 

Rather than moving down the hall, like many of his predecessors, the next dean moved across the street from Old Main. As the university’s general counsel, Dean Nicholas P. Cafardi worked closely with President John Murray on the legal aspects of the University’s late 1980s turnaround. Prior to that, Cafardi had represented nonprofit organizations, including the Diocese of Pittsburgh and religious orders across the country. 

Cafardi adopted a quotation from Cicero—Salus Populi Suprema Lex (“The welfare of the people is the highest law”)—as the School’s new motto. Outreach was increased, in keeping with the University’s mission statement’s call for “... service to the Church, the community, the nation and the world.”

This began with clinical education. In the 1940s, Dean Brophy sent students to work with the Allegheny County Register of Wills. A handful of positions in the District Attorney’s office opened up in the mid-1970s. Still, there were few opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience outside of these externships or judicial clerkships. Now, the American Bar Association urged all law schools to more fully incorporate clinical education. 

Students in ChinaBy 1995, clinics in economic and Community Development, Criminal Law and Civil Justice opened, headed by Professor Joseph Sabino Mistick, L’79. Students worked with clients on real cases, supervised by experienced faculty. after county budget cuts forced the Public Defender to lay off 14 attorneys, Criminal Law Clinic students represented more than 800 accused persons at preliminary hearings in a single year.

Further budget reductions presented another opportunity to serve the region. As funding for the county law library was slashed, smaller firms and nonprofits faced the loss of a critical resource. Frank Y. Liu, director of Duquesne’s law library, negotiated a contract for the school to assume management of the county library. While spending half the amount previously budgeted, the county library was able to offer improved facilities and services.

The vision extended beyond Grant Street. Under Dean Sciullo, the school had begun faculty exchanges with the China University of Political Science and Law. Liu, along with Professor Alfred Peláez, moved a step further to launch the first American law school summer program in Beijing in 1995. Within a few years, students from 120 law schools around the world would participate. 

In 1999, a summer program in Ireland was established. Kirk Junker, L’84, appointed to the full-time faculty as Director of International Programs, leveraged his teaching position at the University of Cologne in Germany to build relationships between the two schools. Professor Robert Barker, L’66, who had served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Latin America during the 1960s, forged ties with schools in Costa Rica and Argentina. Another program was established in the Vatican.

The Law School also created interdisciplinary partnerships. Noted forensic pathologist Cyril H. Wecht had been teaching law and medicine at Duquesne since 1963. In the wake of O.J. Simpson and other high-profile cases, forensic science came to the fore in criminal and civil justice. Before “CSI” and similar television shows became wildly popular, Duquesne established the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law. 

Murray pavilion blessingDuquesne was the nation’s first law school to make such a comprehensive commitment in this field. The Wecht Institute, led by Dr. Wecht and Professor John Rago, spawned a certificate program for legal, medical and law enforcement professionals; hosted international conferences in which renowned presenters examined headline-grabbing issues and cases; and spurred development of a master’s program in Duquesne’s Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences.

The school was thriving, but a familiar issue— lack of space—once again surfaced. In 1990— less than a decade after Hanley Hall opened— an ABA site visit team deemed the School’s physical plant inadequate. By 1998, with another accreditation review just two years away, nothing had been done to address the problem. Dean Cafardi approached President Murray, who understood the school’s plight but could not commit significant funds from a tight university budget. The Law School, Murray agreed, could have whatever it could afford to pay for. 

This presented a formidable challenge, from which The 1911 Society was born. More than 80 alumni and friends signed on as charter members. All told, more than $12 million was raised.

On June 22, 2000, ground was broken for a 32,700-square-foot addition—the Dr. John E. Murray, Jr. Pavilion. Murray would soon step down after 12 years as university president, assuming the title of chancellor and returning to teaching full-time. His office would be located on the top floor of the structure that would bear his name.

Murray pavilion in winter

The improvements encompassed far more than a four-story tower. Hardly a corner of Hanley Hall emerged untouched. Older classrooms and seminar rooms were reconfigured; two new classrooms and a second court room were added. The names of all the school’s moot court champions were engraved on the McArdle Wall. 

On Commencement Day, June 2, 2002, the Murray Pavilion was dedicated. Renovations were completed over the summer. A new Law School was ready for students returning in the fall.

Like Sciullo and Murray before him, Cafardi chose to step down from administrative duties in 2005. Following a sabbatical, he returned to the full-time faculty in the fall of 2006.

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