Bruce Carlson is from Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania — all of his immediate family is from Pittsburgh’s East End. Bruce graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 1986 with a Bachelor’s degree in political philosophy. He remained at the University of Pittsburgh for law school, where he earned his J.D. in 1989. Bruce served as the Executive Editor of the Journal of Law and Commerce while at Pitt Law.
After his second year of law school, Bruce was a summer associate at one of Pittsburgh’s largest law firms. He accepted an offer of full time employment from this firm and upon graduation from law school he worked as an associate attorney in the firm’s litigation department for approximately four years, where he represented large institutional clients in a broad variety of complex litigation. While these foundational years in “big law” provided valuable training and an introduction to the types of cases that Bruce continues to work on today, he never felt completely comfortable representing large institutional clients — particularly when the other party in the case was an individual consumer, employee or just an ordinary citizen.
In 1994, Bruce had the opportunity to move to a firm that did primarily occupational injury litigation on behalf of railroad workers. Once there, he developed what quickly became the largest pediatric lead poisoning practice in the country and he became a named partner at the firm. At the same time, Bruce was increasingly becoming involved in class action litigation on behalf of Plaintiffs, and by 2000 he decided to move to another Pittsburgh firm that was better positioned to support his growing class action practice. Between 2000 and 2004, Bruce originated more class cases than any other lawyer in Western Pennsylvania. In these cases, Bruce represented consumers who had been defrauded or otherwise subjected to unlawful practices in a wide variety of different contexts. He also represented employees who had been deprived of overtime compensation and/or the required minimum wage in a variety of different wage and hour cases. These cases were filed in the federal and state courts of Pennsylvania, and nationally.
In June 2004, Bruce joined Gary Lynch — his friend since his first day of law school — to open Carlson Lynch, Ltd. The launch of Carlson Lynch was part of a natural evolution. Bruce and Gary had worked on cases together since the mid-1990s and in addition to the fact that they shared many cases, they shared a common vision about the practice of law. Carlson Lynch is the realization of this vision.
In Bruce’s words: “My grandparents are buried in the Homestead cemetery, fifty yards away from four steelworkers who were killed in a battle with Pinkerton “detectives” hired to protect Andrew Carnegie’s Homestead steel operations in what was to become one of the most significant events in the history of American labor. My grandfather and great grandfather both worked as bricklayers in that same Homestead steel mill. I grew up hearing stories about that mill and the central role that it played in shaping the rules that would evolve to govern the relationship between labor and capital. I could not be more proud of the fact that that history is part of my history, and it very much informs the prism through which I view the world. The concepts of the rule of law and justice are not abstractions to me; they are tethered to the very real experiences of my family. The opportunity to work to ensure that the laws that are passed by a democratically elected legislature are enforced to protect individual citizens against overreaching by this nation’s great institutions is a tremendous privilege. I cannot imagine doing anything else.”