Dickinson Law students hone skills at mock hearing


March 11, 2019 — Penn State Dickinson Law students in the Children’s Advocacy Clinic and Community Law Clinic had the opportunity to collaborate with Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellows from Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center during a mock hearing inside Dickinson Law’s clinic courtroom. The mock hearing, which was designed around psychiatric issues in a custody dispute, provided the fellows with an opportunity to practice giving expert testimony and the clinical students the opportunity to practice examining expert witnesses.

Mock hearingClinic students were assigned a different party to represent in the hearing. Jill Gorman, a second-year law student in the Community Law Clinic who represented one of the parents in the custody dispute, said that working with the fellows was an invaluable experience. “The fellows brought a different perspective and area of expertise to our legal setting. They helped us understand how they would approach a case from a medical point of view, how to best interview an expert witness, how to identify weaknesses in our cases, and ultimately, how to better prepare our cases in real life.”

Gorman completed online research about examining expert witnesses before the hearing. “What I reviewed online could never have prepared me for what expert witness examination was actually like. It is great that we have the courtroom at the Clinics and are able to bring in real experts to practice our skills.”

“Both the law students and fellows seemed particularly interested this year as evidenced by both staying afterwards to discuss the event," said Professor of Clinical Law Lucy Johnston-Walsh, who also serves as Director of the Children’s Advocacy Clinic and Center on Children and the Law. There was also a robust discussion on the legal process of involuntary mental health commitments, the diagnosis involved in the case, a person’s ability to parent with mental health conditions, and the rules of evidence. It was great.”

Learn more about Dickinson Law’s in-house legal clinicsView photos from the hearing.

______________________________
Professor of Clinical Law Lucy Johnston-Walsh debriefs with Dickinson Law students and child and adolescent psychiatric fellows from Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center following a mock hearing in the Clinic courtroom. The hearing, which was designed around psychiatric issues in a custody dispute, provided law students the opportunity to practice examining expert witnesses and fellows the opportunity to practice giving expert courtroom testimony. 

Photo credit: Justin Kulp