Welcome to Duquesne University School of Law!

I am honored to be the dean of this outstanding law school. I encourage you to learn a little bit about us and what we have to offer. If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to reach out to me at I'd love to hear from you.

There are many reasons our school is special. Among them, our University president, Ken Gormley, is a proud faculty member of the School of Law and previously served as our dean. He welcomes you too!

I would like to introduce the senior leadership team of the school of law. If you are a current student, you know their doors are always open and their knowledge exceptional.

Wesley M. Oliver, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Director of the Criminal Justice Program, and Professor of Law

Tara Willke, Associate Dean for Strategy and Administration and Associate Professor of Law

Ella Kwisnek, Associate Dean of Students, Vice Dean of the Evening Division, and Assistant Professor of Legal Research and Writing

Frank Yining Liu, Associate Dean for Legal Programs, Director of the Duquesne Center for Legal Information and Allegheny County Law Library, and Professor of Law

Jane Moriarty, Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship, Carol Los Mansmann Chair in Faculty Scholarship, and Professor of Law

Why Duquesne?

As the newest Dean of the School of Law, and a Pittsburgh transplant, I thought I'd share some thoughts about what makes Duquesne University special.

Our campus is located in vibrant Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which is consistently ranked as one of the best cities in which to live. For those of you who live here you already know that people are also nice and friendly! If you are from the East Coast, you may even notice as I have, that when you are driving, if you put your signal on to change lanes, people actually wave you in front of them - and they do it with a smile. That doesn't always happen in other cities.

Pittsburgh ranks high on nearly every list of best cities-- for things like sustainability, best riverfront, hottest restaurants, and livability. We even have festivals around important foods such as pickles and perogies.
Pittsburgh offers a spectacular geography dotted with hundreds of beautiful yellow bridges everywhere you look - 446 to be exact.

Why law school?

Some of your friends and family may be asking you this question. You may even be asking yourself this question. Consider for a moment why applied to law school. I am sure there are a number of reasons, but I'm guessing that at least one of the reasons was to learn how to make a difference in the world around you.

Our profession shapes societies, forms governments, and is the bedrock of justice and rule of law. I believe that there is no more powerful way to make a dent, than to be an attorney. By coming to law school you will develop a gift-- a super power, if you will-the art of advocacy. You will learn to communicate effectively and persuasively. Not only can you advocate for those issues that you believe in, but you can advocate for those who are unable to advocate for themselves.

Advocates are not just in courtrooms, or testifying in front of congress, or government agencies. Advocates are able to influence decisions and policies that affect us every day --on much more personal levels-at your child's school, on behalf of a sick parent, in your local faith community, on your local board, or for an organization that is important to you.

Let me be clear--advocacy is not about arguing or being a bully-it is much more nuanced, civilized, and sophisticated. It is the ability to be in command of the facts, be organized, be persuasive, while also being authentic, levelheaded, and reasonable. Recognize that this is a tremendously powerful tool and that you can do great things for a higher purpose with your super power.

Never in all my 20 years teaching and serving in the academy have I been more passionate about the work that I do, and that is because of you-your generation of future lawyers.

Our top-notch faculty will teach you, engage you, challenge you, and shape you to not only think like lawyers - but to be lawyers. You will develop a strong basis of knowledge in the law coupled with a command of the skills you will need to be successful. You will be challenged, you will be pushed outside of your comfort zone
You may even get knocked down a few times and need to dust yourself off during law school.

But that's what it is all about-don't expect perfection--expect growth, expansion, courage, and awareness.

Law school is hard, i'll be honest, it's intense at times, my guess is that you will never have worked so hard-but it is worth it. Know that our faculty and staff are committed to your success-we have an ethos of service to our students and is what i refer to as a distinctly duquesne attitude of service.

Duquesne is the only Spiritan law school

Our University was founded in 1878 by a group of Catholic missionaries known as Congregation of the Holy Spirit (or more simply, the Spiritans). Our name was changed to Duquesne University in 1911 and the School of Law was also established in that year.

We come from humble beginnings. We were established as a school for the children of hard-working immigrants in Pittsburgh area. Today, our Spiritan mission emphasizes values, education as a path to empowerment, service to underserved, profound commitment to justice, and, I'm proud to say, is founded on the premise of inclusion and mutual respect.

The Spiritans were founded in 1703 by a Frenchman named Claude Poullart Des Places, who was the only son of a noble family in Brittany, France. I mention him because, as a young man, about the age of many of you considering law school, he had given up a promising career as a lawyer to study for the priesthood because he had a profound concern for the underserved.

This was 300 years ago; our profession has evolved; now those who have a profound compassion for others can and should enter the legal profession.

On behalf of our entire School of Law and Duquesne University community, I hope you'll learn and grow with us!

Dean April Barton