Temple Medicine and Law Faculty Team Up to Teach Local Attorneys
“I was not grossed-out by human dissection. In fact, just the opposite,” said Joseph Bongiovanni, Esq., a medical malpractice defense attorney in Philadelphia.
This winter, Bongiovanni was one of a dozen attorneys to enroll in "Medicine and Law", an 8-week certificate program at Temple designed to enhance the law practice of attorneys who handle personal injury and medical malpractice cases.
Team-taught by Temple faculty from the School of Medicine and School of Law, the course used lectures, diagnostic image review, and actual demonstrations of dissected cadavers to lead lawyers on a guided tour of the human body. The curriculum covered every major system, from cardiovascular to musculoskeletal to endocrine. How is the anatomy configured? How do the systems work? What constitutes normal? What characterizes pathology? How do the body systems interrelate?
“Lawyers are trained to recognize or defeat theories of liability, but that is only a part of the equation. Medicine plays an equally important role in many areas of the law,” said course co-director Samuel Hodge, Esq., Professor and Chair of Legal Studies in Business, Legal Studies in Business at Temple’s Fox School of Business. An award-winning legal educator, Hodge is author of five medical texts for lawyers, including Clinical Anatomy for Lawyers (American Bar Association, 2012).
“With the multitude of diseases and injuries subject to legal claims, plaintiff and defense attorneys must have a solid understanding of the clinical issues,” Hodge said. “Those who don’t are working at a distinct disadvantage. My goal is to deepen their understanding of the human body and its inner workings.”
To do so, Hodge worked with Steven Popoff, PhD, Chair, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, to create an expanded version of the award-winning Anatomy for Lawyers continuing law education course Hodge created in 2005.
“The attorneys were great students,” said Dr. Popoff. “They were as rapt as medical students newly immersed in the intricacies of human anatomy and physiology.”
Bongiovanni says the course has given him an entirely new perspective.
“It’s going to be invaluable to my defense practice,” he said. “Besides, I loved it. I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my wife how fascinating it was.”
“It’s rare that you get the opportunity to discuss medical and anatomical details with real experts,” said Daniel Boyce, Esq., another participant. “Even rarer is the chance to actually see human anatomy.”
Jim Hockenberry, Esq., agreed. “You can look at pictures – but it’s simply not the same.”
The course will be offered again in the future, with content tailored to the interests of the class.