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by Larry Teitelbaum
Shanin Specter L’84, a tough advocate and successful litigator, settles his lanky frame into a chair and launches into his opening statement to students. Remember to prove negligence, show cause, and establish damage … Tell the jury you’re going to shred defense arguments … Make sure to introduce witnesses in your opening statement … And never, ever bring up anything that you can’t prove!
Drill over, Specter rests his case and yields the floor to a guest lecturer. This is how it goes one Thursday night as Specter turns his classroom into a courtroom. During the spring semester, Specter teaches Introduction to Trial Advocacy. And like an attorney preparing a brief, he covers all the bases: Students read transcripts, watch videotapes of depositions, and see lawyers conduct examinations. He then requires them to demonstrate these skills in class.
“By the end of the semester they should have a pretty good idea of what it means to be a trial lawyer and what goes into a case from the moment the potential client calls you on the phone until you sit down after your closing statement,” says Specter, an adjunct professor at Penn Law School.
In distilling these lessons, Specter draws on two decades of experience. When he’s not in the classroom, Specter is a partner at Philadelphia-based Kline and Specter, where he’s won record monetary awards for clients in high-profile personal injury cases. No wonder the National Law Journal named Specter one of Pennsylvania’s top ten litigators.
So clearly, Specter, a former member of a governor’s advisory board on physician liability, understands the high stakes involved in issues such as medical malpractice. And make no mistake, he’s not for Band-Aid solutions. Rather, to resolve physicians’ skyrocketing costs, he suggests a systemic overhaul. His three-point plan: