Michelle A. Paznokas knew more about plaintiff law – especially winning big cases -- than many practicing attorneys before her first official day as a lawyer at Kline & Specter.
That was because she worked for more than a year on some of the firm’s major victories as a law clerk while attending the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University, where she not coincidentally was among the school’s top graduates and an editor on the Law Review.
Paznokas was involved in the background workings – drafting motions, developing theories of liability, consulting with expert witness – on a number of important cases, including the Center City Salvation Army building collapse litigation that produced an arbitrator’s award of $95.6 million for a single plaintiff, the largest personal injury recovery in Pennsylvania history.
She also assisted on a case that resulted in a $10.1 million medical malpractice verdict against Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in litigation involving a delayed diagnosis of meningitis. The verdict was upheld by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Paznokas also found the time during law school to work several internships, including with the Philadelphia Law Department and HIAS, an organization which helps protect refugees and assists them in building new lives and reuniting with the family members.
She graduated sixth and magna cum laude in her class at Kline Law while also serving as notes editor for the Law Review and authoring a 34-page article exploring flaws in the Special Immigration Juvenile Status (SIJS) statute enacted in 1990 to protect undocumented children fleeing parental abuse or neglect.
She was the school’s Criminal Law Dean’s Scholar for Prof. Adam Benforado, helped first year law students understand criminal law and conducted weekly classes on difficult concepts, while also meeting with students one-on-one. Paznokas co-created and presented public workshops and did pro-bono work on estate planning and immigration. She is currently liaison committee chair for the Kline Law American Inn of Court and co-professor at the school for Writing Strategies for the Bar.
Among her many honors were the CALI Excellence Award given for the best student performance in medical malpractice, the Rising Advocate Scholarship, the FirstTrust Bank Award in Business and Entrepreneurship and the Carolyn Agger Award for Excellence in Federal Taxation.
Paznokas, who is licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, did her undergraduate work at Temple University, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She also founded and was music director for an a cappella group at Temple. Paznokas, who is proficient in Spanish, trained in voice and several instruments, including guitar, drums and piano. She danced competitively with the Broad Street Entertainers through high school and later danced with Onstage & Off, a theater company based in Lansdale.