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University of Pittsburgh    
2022-2023 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jul 14, 2024
2022-2023 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Law - J.G. Civil Litigation Certificate Program

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In the Fall of 2021, the J.G. Civil Litigation Certificate Program was inactive for students to enroll in. Students who were enrolled prior to the Fall 2021 must complete the program by Spring 2023 term.

Are you drawn to the real life drama of the courtroom? Do you have dreams of becoming a trial attorney? If so, then the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (PittLaw) may just be the place for you. Through its unique John P. Gismondi Civil Litigation Certificate Program, PittLaw can provide you with a unique curriculum devoted exclusively to training the trial lawyers of tomorrow.

During the first year of law school, all students take the same courses. Those students who wish to register for the Gismondi program, do so at the beginning of their second year of law school. During their second and third years, all students enrolled in the certificate program will take certain required foundational core courses, a clinic or practicum, as well as a number of specialized classes. The heart of the Gismondi program is a collection of specialized courses taught exclusively by a pre eminent group of practicing trial attorneys whose insight and experience offer an invaluable perspective in the classroom. Together with our core courses, these select courses provide a level and depth of litigation training unlike that available at most any other law school.

In each of these specialized skills courses, class size is kept small so as to enrich the learning experience. Students not only are taught legal rules and principles in a typical lecture format, but more importantly, they are assigned to “role play” in a variety of real world litigation scenarios, each designed to develop specific skills which are essential to successful trial work.

Students complete their training by taking a required litigation skills clinic or practicum selected from this group of options: Civil Practice Clinic (Health Law or Elder Law), Tax Clinic, Immigration Clinic,  Environmental Law Clinic,   PA Practice Practicum, Lawyering III Clinic, Unemployment Compensation Practicum, Criminal Prosecution Practicum, Veterans Practicum or Family Law Clinic. In all of these clinics, students have the potential of representing real clients in actual court proceedings.

The students in the John P. Gismondi Civil Litigation Certificate Program will complete their law school education having developed a set of skills which better prepares them to do courtroom work than traditional law school graduates, and that advantage, in turn, makes the Gismondi certificate students more attractive to law firms seeking to hire young and enthusiastic litigation associates.

Certificate Requirements

All students must follow the JD degree requirements in order to graduate.  To qualify for this certificate, students must complete the Core Courses and Required Specialized Skills Courses listed below.  In addition, students must take a litigation skills clinic or practicum, or a combination thereof, approved by the Director of Civil Litigation Program for a minimum of four credits.  

Students must participate in the Murray S. Love Trial Moot Court Program during their second or third year or the Interscholastic Mock Trial Team (enroll in the attendant seminar Mock Trial Strategy and Practice).  

Students must participate in the Program’s Court Observation. Students will spend a day organized by the Academy of Trial Lawyers of Allegheny County observing court proceedings. Students will fulfill this requirement in their third year.  Students must sign up with the Program Director in order to participate on one of these dates.

Students are required to complete an Upper Level Writing Requirement of 2 credits.  Students may satisfy this requirement by taking any seminar or undertaking an independent study project if the paper they write is on an unresolved litigation related issue and the issue is approved by the Director of the Civil Litigation Certificate Program and the faculty member supervising the seminar or independent study project. The paper must comply also with applicable requirements of the professor and the Student Handbook relating to the Upper Level Writing Requirement.


For detailed term-specific course descriptions, please go to the Schedule of Classes Course Lists on the Law School web site.

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