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Exploring Plaintiff-Side Lawyering

August 18, 2023

Douglas Snyder L'25 MBE'25
Douglas Snyder L’25 MBE’25

At Kline & Specter, Douglas Snyder L’25, MBE’25 immersed himself in plaintiff-side litigation work supporting the firm’s medical malpractice attorneys.

What should one expect from a 1L internship? I posed this question to several people in preparation for my summer clerkship with Kline & Specter, a plaintiff’s firm in Philadelphia that specializes in catastrophic injury and medical malpractice. The most common advice was to not expect much, perhaps a substantive project or two punctuating a lot of busy work and memo writing.

In my experience, this is not so. This summer, I drafted memos and complaints, poured through tens of thousands of highly technical documents to support litigation against powerful multinational corporations, and assisted associates and partners alike on courtroom strategy against expert witnesses. Had it not been for the quality of my legal education from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School thus far, I never would have stood a chance.

Fighting for Justice with Kline & Specter

My work for Kline & Specter covered cases alleging medical fraud and malpractice, defective products, and wrongful death—all on behalf of plaintiffs. Supporting the firm’s medical malpractice attorneys was the most rewarding experience of my life thus far. One case, in particular, I am sure to never forget. One of my supervising attorneys gave me the opportunity to take on a defendant who, despite paying millions of dollars in fines and attempts from state and federal regulatory bodies to shutter his clinics and recover millions in alleged Medicare fraud, continued practicing medicine.

For this case, I was asked to draft the initial complaint in its entirety. After learning about our client to better understand their experience and the harms they faced, I worked to determine instances where the standards of care were violated, then painstakingly recreated a scientifically comprehensive and meticulously detailed timeline. The project, which took weeks to complete, challenged me to learn more about the medical field than I ever thought possible for a law student.

Putting Student Needs First

Penn Carey Law’s commitment to supporting its students made my summer clerkship so much more rewarding. When I came to law school and found few resources for aspiring plaintiff-side lawyers, I decided to change that. I co-founded the Penn Plaintiff’s Law Association, which helped lead me to Kline & Specter this summer. However, this achievement was shared by the administrators and professors who helped make it possible.

I was supported at every stage by Dmitri Islam and the Office of Student Affairs. Jamie Reisman, Joanna Craig, and the entire Office of Career Strategy team provided meaningful assistance to me in firm and attorney outreach. Of course, my professors deserve the highest thanks. It was because of my Torts and Civil Procedure courses with Tom Baker, William Maul Measey Professor of Law, and Jill E. Fisch, Saul A. Fox Distinguished Professor of Business Law and Co-Director of Institute for Law & Economics, respectively, that I discovered plaintiff’s law in the first place. These courses introduced me to the considerable breadth of practice areas available to future plaintiff-side litigators like me.

Lastly, I recall my Legal Practice Skills instructor, Jessica Simon C’95, Associate Director of Legal Practice Skills, forewarning us that the lessons she taught us would prove invaluable in our summer internships. Considering the number of times I referenced my summary judgment brief on the job, I am happy to share that she was absolutely right. In just one year, I have gone from someone unfamiliar with the term “plaintiff” to an aspiring plaintiff’s attorney, thanks to both Kline & Specter and Penn Carey Law.

I went into this summer expecting to learn about the litigation process and what goes into a trial. Instead, thanks to Kline & Specter, I received a comprehensive crash-course in what it really means to be a lawyer. Our profession allows us nearly unlimited latitude to fight for justice and reform, and this summer, I got a firsthand look into how rewarding it feels to do so.

Pathways to the Profession highlights Penn Carey Law students and post-graduate fellows as they launch impactful legal careers. From summer internships in the private sector to public interest post-graduate fellowships, these firsthand accounts of substantive legal work demonstrate the myriad opportunities available to Penn Carey Law students and graduates as they hone their skills and advance their career goals.

Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Douglas Snyder L’25, MBE’25 graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and aspires to challenge the world’s biggest companies as an attorney through plaintiff-side complex litigation and mass torts.

Explore more of our students’ Pathways to the Profession.