View Our Practice Areas

Uniontown Native Funds New Legal Program at Pitt

 

By Matthew Junker

A Uniontown native who built a career as a noted personal injury attorney and teacher in Pittsburgh was able to combine many of his interests recently by funding a new legal program at the University of Pittsburgh, his alma mater.

Through a gift, John P. Gismondi, 49, of Churchill, Allegheny County, funded the creation of a new certificate program at Pitt's law school - only the third of its type in the country.

Called the John P. Gismondi Civil Litigation Certificate Program, it will allow Pitt's law school to be more competitive attracting students.

"It's incredibly exciting what John is allowing us to do. This program will allow (prospective lawyers) to step into the shoes of real attorneys. Without this gift, this would not be happening," law school Dean David Herring said.

Gismondi is glad to be able to help Pitt in a way that synthesizes his interests - civil law and teaching at Pitt.

"I feel like I've been fortunate in my career and I wanted to give something back to the school and to future attorneys. I enjoy being in the courtroom. I enjoy teaching and I have an affinity for the law school, so this gave me an opportunity to combine a lot of things," he said.

The gift - the amount is not being disclosed - will allow the school to hire eight new instructors to offer four additional classes each semester.

The professor who will oversee the new program said it will allow a more practical instruction and preparation for students.

"Basically, these are all the things lawyers need to know, because most civil (lawsuits) settle because of the preparation for trial," Assistant Professor Marvin Fein said.

The program will offer classes in pretrial pleadings, discovery, choosing juries, and pretrial and courtroom strategy, among other things, Fein said.

"These are things prospective lawyers need to know before they go out into the world," Fein said.

The program could become a recruiting tool similar to the school's health law program, Herring said.

"We find that students seek us out and end up coming here because of it. I think the civil law program has potential to become even more prominent," he said.

The gift is not Gismondi's first substantial one. Thanks to Gismondi, the Uniontown Public Library has a children's learning center.

Gismondi has an excellent reputation within the Pittsburgh legal community, according to the president of the Allegheny County Bar Association, Frederick N. Egler Jr.

"He's just one of these lawyers who is a natural in the courtroom. He's a rare combination of an outstanding and successful trial lawyer and someone who is very giving of his time and to the institutions he believes in," Egler said.

Gismondi is a past president of the Allegheny County Bar Association and the Western Pennsylvania chapter of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.

Gismondi, whose family descended from coal miners and grocers, said he still draws on basic principles he learned from his small-town upbringing.

"I have to acknowledge that 90 percent of what I achieved is (because of) my upbringing. The single biggest thing I learned was to have pride in what you do. Don't blow things off, have pride," he said.

No Recovery No Fee

Find Out Why
Super lawyers Distinguished AV | Lexis Nexis | Martindale-Hubbell | Peer Review Rated For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability Million Dollar Advocates Forum