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Our History

Founded in 1834 by Judge John Reed, The Dickinson School of Law is the oldest law school in Pennsylvania and the fifth oldest in the nation. In 2000, the Law School merged with Penn State, one of the world's premier research universities. The Law School opened a technologically advanced award-winning building on Penn State's main campus in University Park, Pennsylvania in 2008. The Law School continues its historic presence in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and has completely rebuilt its facilities there with state-of-the-art classrooms, conference rooms, and a library interconnected with University Park via the most advanced high-definition audiovisual system available.

Throughout its history, the Law School has trained distinguished graduates who have gone on to become leaders of the bar, of the judiciary, of government, and of business. These alumni include the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Tom Ridge '72), five governors, three U.S. senators, and more than 100 federal, state and county judges and countless prominent lawyers and civic leaders.

  • One of the first Native Americans to attend law school graduated in 1909.
  • Our first African-American student enrolled in 1911. 
  • Minnesota’s Civil War Governor and four governors of Pennsylvania were our graduates.
  • The first U.S. Senator from Oregon was a graduate of The Dickinson School of Law. He went on to become Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court.
  • The Penn State Law Review, formerly The Dickinson Law Review, has been continually published since 1897 and is one of the oldest law reviews in the country.