President Obama Nominates Pitt Law Alumna Judge Marilyn Jean Horan To Federal Bench

President Obama has nominated Pitt Law alumna Marilyn Jean Horan ('79), a Butler County Common Pleas judge, to the federal bench for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Judge Horan has been a Butler County judge since 1996. The first female judge in Butler County history, she serves in the court’s civil division. From 1979 to 1996, Judge Horan worked at the law firm of Murrin, Taylor, Flach and Horan, where she rose to partner in 1982. She received her J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1979 and her B.A. from Penn State University in 1976.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, if confirmed by the Senate, Judge Horan along with the two other nominees for W. D. Pa. would shore up a court that hasn't operated with a full complement of judges for years.

Read more in the "3 judges selected for federal bench" in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Publish Date: 
Friday, July 31, 2015 - 3:00pm
Date and Times: 
Tuesday, August 18, 2015 - 9:00am to Friday, August 21, 2015 - 5:00pm

University of Pittsburgh School of Law
3900 Forbes Avenue Teplitz Memorial Moot Courtroom
15260 Pittsburgh , PA

The four-day 2015 Orientation agenda for incoming Pitt Law students is as follows. Orientation registration occurs in the main lobby on the first floor. The main location for orientation events is the Teplitz Memorial Moot Courtroom on the ground floor. Events not located in the Teplitz Memorial Moot Courtroom are noted.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

9 a.m. - 10 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast (Lobby and Student Lounge)

10 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Welcome to the Pitt Law Community

10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Character and Fitness Discussion

11 a.m. - 12 p.m. Student Panel

12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Lunch provided by Pitt Law (1st Floor Lobby)

1:30 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. Professionalism Panel

2:15 p.m. - 3 p.m. Pitt Law Presentations

3 p.m. - 4 p.m. Small Section Information Sessions and Tours. Various locations noted by group and associated room number below:

A1-G13    B1-113  C1-G18
A2-109    B2-107 C2-G12
A3-G20                 B3-Courtroom C3-111
Transfer and Visiting Students - G46

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

10 a.m. - 11 a.m. Professional Development Panel (Courtroom)

11 a.m. - 12 p.m. Office of Professional and Career Development

12 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Box lunch provided by Pitt Law (Lobby)

1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. Preparing for Academic Excellence (Room 111 and 113)

*Reminder - Dress up Thursday for a professional picture.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

9 a.m. - 10 a.m. Donuts and Coffee (Lobby) Photographer available for Professional Picture

10 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Noble Hour Training/Service Project Overview (Courtroom)

10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. Preparing for Academic Excellence (Room 111 and 113)

12 p.m. - 2 p.m. Photographer Available for Professional Picture (Lobby). Lunch on your own.

2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Preparing for Academic Excellence

*Reminder: don’t forget to wear your Pitt Law t-shirt Friday for the service project!

Friday, August 21, 2015

11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Student Organization Fair (Lobby)

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Orientation for Friends and Family of Law Students (Room 118)

Parents, spouses, significant others, children and friends are invited to this lively discussion of the realities of living with a law student.  Also enjoy a tour of the law school.

1:30 p.m. - 2 p.m. Check-in for Community Service Project (Back Lobby)

2 p.m. - 5 p.m. Community Service Project. Transportation will be provided to the Woodlands Foundation.                         

The service site location selected to accommodate all of our students is the Woodlands Foundation, which is just off of Route 79 on the Wexford exit. The organization is a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children and young adults with disability and chronic illness. There will be a variety of ways students will be volunteering on its large campus, but the site will ensure students receive a welcome to the camp, and understand how they may continue to be involved and support its programs. For more information regarding the organization, please visit:

Date and Times: 
Thursday, September 10, 2015 - 7:45am to Friday, September 11, 2015 - 2:30pm

Omni William Penn Hotel
530 William Penn Pl.
15219 Pittsburgh , PA

The Institute for Energy Law and The Center for American and International Law, and the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation present the 6th Law of Shale Plays Conference which will occur in Pittsburgh, Sept. 10 - 11, 2015, at the Omni William Penn Hotel. Pitt Law students are welcome to register for this event. The cost to register for law students before Aug. 18 is $125. Highlights of this conference include:

  • The Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040
  • Seismicity and Unconventional Oil and Gas Activity
  • Regional Update - Hot and Anticipated Litigation in the Shale Plays
  • Federal Air Regulation & Its Impact on Upstream and Midstream Operations

This conference is supported by the Energy Litigation Committee of the ABA Section of Litigation. Download conference brochure and schedule (PDF).

Register for the conference online.

Pitt Law Librarians Help Uncover Smoking Gun Evidence in Historic “Happy Birthday” Song Lawsuit

It’s evidence that might prove conclusively there is no copyright to the lyrics of the “Happy Birthday” song, and attorneys for the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit Good Morning To You Productions Corp. v. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc discovered it was housed in the University of Pittsburgh’s library storage facility. Scrambling to get a hold of it, the attorneys contacted Pitt Law professor and intellectual property law expert Michael Madison. He put them in touch with the Barco Law Library's interim director Marc Silverman and law librarian Linda Tashbook.

The fourth edition of The Everyday Song Book was published in 1922 and contains lyrics for “Happy Birthday To You” without any copyright notice, which predates Warner/Chappell’s 1935 copyright registration. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the plaintiffs discovered evidence of the book, a blurry photo in Warner/Chappell’s own files, which they were given access to only three weeks ago. Tashbook retrieved Pitt’s rare copy and delicately scanned the relevant pages for the attorneys as fast as possible.

Presently, anyone who publically sings or performs “Happy Birthday,” whether at a restaurant or in a major motion picture has to pay Warner/Chappell a royalty. Since 1935, Warner/Chappell has collected royalties, now up to $2 million a year, from the song.

Now with the help of Pitt Law and the University, the world’s most recognized song in the English language (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) may become free to the public. In a new filing in the case (PDF), the attorneys for the plaintiffs write, “[T]he documents prove conclusively that the song is in the public domain, thus making it unnecessary for the Court to decide the scope or validity of the disputed copyrights…”

Read more in “Happy Birthday Lawsuit: ‘Smoking Gun’ Emerges in Bid to Free World's Most Popular Song” in The Hollywood Reporter.

Excerpt from Pitt's copy of The Everyday Song Book.

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Publish Date: 
Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - 12:00pm

Pitt Law Launches Energy Law and Policy Institute, Names Kevin Abbott of Reed Smith LLP as Interim Executive Director


Pitt Law Dean William M. Carter Jr. today announced the formation of the school’s new Energy Law and Policy Institute. Kevin Abbott, senior energy law partner at Reed Smith LLP, adjunct professor, and a 1981 alumnus of Pitt Law, will serve as interim executive director of the institute, which will begin operating in fall 2015 and will host its first major conference on energy law in the spring of 2016.

This interdisciplinary institute draws on the strengths of the University to advance the training of law students to become leaders in providing legal services to the regional, national, and international energy sectors. The institute is a major priority of the School of Law and the University.

The Energy Law and Policy Institute will develop new courses in the field of energy law, with a particular focus on helping students develop practice-ready skills; host major annual conferences that bring together law firms, corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to address cutting-edge issues in energy law and policy; and advance collaborative research and teaching initiatives in the field of energy law in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Center for Energy, Swanson School of Engineering, Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, Graduate School of Public Health, and Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, among others. 

Kevin Abbott has more than 30 years of experience representing clients in the oil and gas industry, including natural gas exploration and production companies, interstate pipeline companies, and utilities. He is currently advising natural gas exploration and production companies on issues related to exploration of Marcellus and Utica Shales in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York. In addition to maintaining an active law practice, Abbott has also served in multiple leadership roles in the legal and business communities. He has taught oil and gas law at Pitt Law since 2012; served as a trustee of the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation and as a member of the law school’s Energy Law Advisory Board; authored numerous publications in the area of energy law; and received numerous awards, including the Pittsburgh Business Times 2012 Leadership Award.

“Pitt Law already has many strengths in the fields of energy and environmental law, and developing a formal Energy Law and Policy Institute to take our program to the next level has been one of my key priorities since becoming dean,” Carter said. “I am grateful for the University’s support of this initiative, and I am delighted that Kevin has agreed to serve as interim executive director. His leadership, knowledge, experience, and international prominence in energy law should position the school to develop one of the premier energy law programs in the country.”

Commenting on the institute’s launch and Abbott’s appointment, Reed Smith Global Managing Partner Alexander Y. Thomas said, “Kevin’s decades of experience in oil and gas law have earned him high regard among his clients and colleagues alike. Reed Smith is delighted Kevin will be able to extend his deep insight to Pitt Law through its Energy Law and Policy Institute, even as he remains an active partner of the firm.”

“I am grateful to the University for this opportunity and excited to get started,” Abbott said. “Energy is now and will continue to be the engine of this region’s growth for decades to come, and the University will play a role in that growth. I am very grateful to my partners at Reed Smith for supporting my role at the institute while I continue to represent my clients.”

Media inquiries contact

News Image: 
Publish Date: 
Monday, July 27, 2015 - 10:15am
Date and Times: 
Thursday, August 13, 2015 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Tillar House
2223 Massachusetts Ave NW
20008 Washington , DC

Pitt Law's Office of Professional and Career Development and the Office of Development & Alumni Affairs are hosting a networking event. This event is open to all Pitt Law alumni and current Pitt Law students.

Richard Thorpe, the newly hired executive director of Pitt Law's Center for International Legal Education (CILE), will also be in attendance. This is a great opportunity to make connections in the DC market.

PLEASE RSVP for the networking event on Symplicity by August 11, 2015.

Students can seek reimbursement up to $250 for costs to attend this networking event through OPCD’s Professional Development Fund. For more information, please contact OPCD at or (412) 648-1411.

Jim Potter

Mary Jo Ruschak Potter

Professor Jasmine Gonzales Rose Discusses Non-English Speakers Excluded From Juries On NPR's Latino USA

Pitt Law Professor Jasmine Gonzales Rose spoke today on NPR's Latino USA on the ramifications of excluding non-English speaking jurors from the jury box. Before the 20th century, non-English speaking jurors and interpreters were common in the courtroom.

"Criminal defendants have the most to lose when they are sitting trial," Gonzales Rose says. "They're not having a jury pool that is fairly representive of the community. They are not having the opportunity to be judged by a jury of their peers, which is a fundamental right under the fair cross-section requirement of the Sixth Amendment."

Listen to the segment at NPR's Latino USA.

Publish Date: 
Friday, July 17, 2015 - 4:00pm

Professor David Thaw Speaks To KDKA and Tribune-Review on PennDOT Selling Drivers' Information

PennDOT is under fire for selling drivers' personal information, and now a new state Senate-approved bill would give insurance companies access to records of all drivers in a household without even having the drivers' names. Pitt Law Professor David Thaw spoke to KDKA's Jon Delano on the matter.

According to the news segment, in addition to PennDOT selling drivers' information, a new state Senate proposal could give insurance companies access to records of all drivers in a household without even having the drivers’ names.

“Under that proposal, I would be able to use incomplete information to get information usable to identity theft,” Thaw told KDKA.

Watch the segment at KDKA | CBS Pittsburgh.

Thaw also offered expert commentary to the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review in a front-page story on the matter. According to the Tribune-Review, PennDOT maintains contracts with wholesale companies to purchase driver information in bulk, defined as at least 5,000 transactions per month. Those include LexisNexis, Acxiom, American Driving Records, Explore, Hireright, Insurance Services Office and TML Information Services. Drivers or their attorneys can request their information. Thaw said the kinds of records that can be obtained don't necessarily pose a threat of identify theft.

"I would not place this on the high-risk end of the spectrum,” he said, “providing the department and the insurance companies are following the rules."

Read the story at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

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Publish Date: 
Thursday, July 16, 2015 - 4:45pm