The 2nd National Medical-Legal Trial Competition, hosted by the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University and the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, came to a spirited finale as Campbell University Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law captured first place in the only mock trial contest in the country in which medical and law schools collaborate to simulate real-life expert testimony by doctors. The competition took place Nov. 1-3.
The 10 participating law schools competed in three preliminary rounds of a mock civil trial involving dueling medical experts. Each law school had been assigned a fourth-year student from the Zucker School of Medicine to serve as an expert witness. Opening rounds were held at the Nassau County Supreme Court, and the closing rounds were held at Hofstra Law’s Weitz & Luxenberg Trial Courtroom, which was recently redesigned and updated with the latest advancements in courtroom technology.
The winning team from Raleigh, North Carolina-based Campbell Law School consisted of Chamberlain Collier, Justin Hill, and Jake Terrell, with Zucker medical student Kayla Hackman serving as their expert witness.
“I was very impressed with the level of skill, knowledge, and poise displayed by both the law and medical students in this setting,” said New York State Supreme Court judge and Hofstra Law alum Hon. Arthur Diamond ’78, who served as the presiding judge in the final round. “Their collaboration and enthusiasm was especially impressive following a few days of rigorous competition.”
Students Breanna Brill, Myles Carroll, and Emin Drnovsek representing Chicago-Kent College of Law, with Zucker medical student Divya Shah serving as their expert witness, placed second in the competition, and St. John’s University School of Law and William & Mary Law School were semifinalists.
Other competition honors included:
• Best Expert Witness: Divya Shah, Zucker School of Medicine
• Best Use of an Expert: Emin Drnovsek, Chicago-Kent College of Law
• Outstanding Advocates in a Preliminary Round: Eric Gilliand, William & Mary Law School; William Healy, St. John’s School of Law; and Justin Hill, Campbell Law School
• Best Overall Advocate in a Preliminary Round: Myles Carroll, Chicago-Kent College of Law
This year each team had access to leading industry consultants from DOAR, a litigation-strategy and expert-witness consulting firm, for support with trial graphics and presentation. The contest featured more than 50 attorneys and judges, including nearly 20 doctors, who attended the competition to evaluate the students.
“I competed in mock trials as a Hofstra Law student; now I participate as an evaluator or a judge,” said Andres Sanchez ’15, who works in medical malpractice litigation. “We used to have law students pretend to be doctors in mock trials. It is impressive to involve and listen to the medical students, who understand the medical issues in the case, which makes the experience much more authentic for participants.”
Mock trial evaluator and Zucker School of Medicine professor of neurology/surgery Jamie Ullman, MD, pointed to the ability to collaborate as a multidisciplinary team as an invaluable aspect of the tournament. “It was great,” he said, “to watch the law students and medical students work on their parts [of the case] and bring it all together to present a solid, clear argument.”
For more information about the National Medical-Legal Trial Competition, please contact tournament director and faculty advisor to the Hofstra Trial Advocacy Association Jared Rosenblatt ’03 at firstname.lastname@example.org or Gino Farina, MD, assistant dean for clinical preparation for residency, at Gino.A.Farina@hofstra.edu.