Albright College Distinguished Alumnus Award presentation speech
Our next recipient of our Distinguished Alumnus Award is a nationally recognized trial lawyer, described a few years ago in front page Philadelphia Daily News profile article as the “Babe Ruth” of personal injury litigation. He has established himself as one of the premier trial lawyers in America, and is a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, described by the Washington Post as one of “100 of the nation’s most celebrated lawyers.”
Tom was named not only to Philadelphia Magazine’s “Best Lawyers”, but also recognized as one of its “76 Smartest Philadelphians.” He was listed in the National Law Journal as one of America’s top litigators, and on its list of Pennsylvania’s top 10 lawyers.
It is still not publicly announced- - but in a survey about to be released by a publication known as “Super Lawyers” in June, Tom was voted by his colleagues at the bar as the top lawyer in Pennsylvania.
Our recipient is a founding partner in the law firm of Kline & Specter, and concentrates his law practice in representing catastrophically injured people and their families, as well as in death cases, class action and mass tort cases. He and his partner, Shanin Specter, are well known, not only for record setting jury verdicts, but also for safety changes which have followed their jury verdicts and settlements. In one well-known case $51 million jury verdict, following a terrible escalator accident in which a child lost his foot, which exposed years of neglect in the maintenance and repair of it’s escalators, SEPTA agreed to repair and finally properly maintain the entire subway escalator system.
Professionally, Tom is first and foremost a courtroom lawyer. He has made his reputation in front of juries -- with speeches and cross examinations. He started out, however, as a sixth grade school teacher for six years in his hometown of Hazelton. He is still actively teaching -- as a prolific teacher of continuing legal education to lawyers, as an adjunct professor at Temple University School of Law, even as a teacher to medical students at Thomas Jefferson University. He has brought courtroom drama to life in a one-man show called “Trial as Theatre” which he last performed at the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia.
He holds the important job of Chairman of the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, an appointment by United States Senators, Specter and Santorum, and has been actively involved in the selection of federal judges in Pennsylvania since 1989.
Tom has been married to his wife Paula, who is here tonight who is here with him tonight, for 31 years. Their daughter Hilary, teaches school in New York and their son Zac, is an aspiring playwright in the Tisch School at NYU.
On behalf of the Albright College Alumni Association, it is my great pleasure to honor Mr. Thomas R. Kline, class of 1969, with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.