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Celebrating Justice Podcast: Hunter J. Shkolnik

Celebrating Justice E1:S1 - Podcast with Hunter J. Shkolnik

Celebrating Justice Podcast: Hunter J. Shkolnik

“Celebrating Justice” is a podcast produced not just for legal professionals but for anyone intrigued by the complexities of law and its impact on society. Whether you’re drawn to the strategic gamesmanship of trial work or moved by stories of advocacy and reform, “Celebrating Justice” promises rich, informative, and truly inspiring content. dedicated to sharing stories and shining a light on the top trial lawyers. Vvisit for more information.

Show notes

Hunter J. Shkolnik is an esteemed and dedicated attorney who focuses on the trials of significant personal injury cases, primarily in the area of drug, automobile, aviation-related, and mass tort pharmaceutical and medical device litigations.

After an almost accidental entrance into law, Shkolnik has seen years of success in high stakes litigation and is a founding board member and Vice President of the Trial Lawyers of Puerto Rico (TLPR), a trade association bringing together top trial lawyers to share expertise, build partnerships, and to add value to the local Puerto Rico community.

In this episode of “Celebrating Justice,” he discusses how he became a trial lawyer after considering a career as a doctor and talks about the transition from defense to plaintiff law. Shkolnik talks about the importance of mentoring young lawyers and concludes with his “Closing Argument” of reflection on taking risks and making a difference in the courtroom.


1:25 – Why did you want to become a trial lawyer?
3:10 – What makes you unique?
7:08 – A case that matters
9:31 – Hunter’s “Closing Argument”


  • Becoming a trial lawyer can be a result of unexpected circumstances and opportunities.
  • Transitioning from defense to plaintiff law can provide a unique perspective and motivation.
  • Impressive verdicts and settlements can make a significant impact on individuals and communities, driven by  motivation to hold corporations accountable.
  • Mentoring young lawyers and providing them with trial experience is crucial for the future of the legal profession.
  • Taking risks in the courtroom can lead to meaningful outcomes.

Discover More

Napoli Shkolnik Law Firm Website
Napoli-Shkolnik Instagram
Hunter’s Biography
Hunter on LinkedIn


[Theme Song Plays]

Hunter Shkolnik: These are all things that you realize you’re doing some good. We saw that we could use our abilities in a way that people never thought. I let millions of dollars, in these days billions of dollars, ride. And I just say, “We’re gonna let it ride today.”

Narrator: Welcome to Celebrating Justice. Presented by the Trial Lawyers Journal and CloudLex, the next-gen legal cloud platform built exclusively for personal injury law. Get inspired by the nation’s top trial lawyers and share in the stories that shape our pursuit of justice. Follow the podcast and join our community at Now here’s your host, Editor of TLJ and VP of Marketing at CloudLex, Chad Sands.

Chad Sands: Hello friends, and welcome to Celebrating Justice, the podcast that takes you into the hearts and minds of the nation’s top trial lawyers. For our premiere episode, we’re honored to feature a true titan of trial law, Hunter Shkolnik from Napoli Shkolnik. Hunter’s notable battles against corporate giants such as 3M, DuPont and Teva Pharmaceuticals — among others — have not only set legal precedents, but have also led to groundbreaking settlements totaling billions of dollars.

But before we get to the stories, I asked him: why did you want to become a trial lawyer?

Hunter Shkolnik: That’s actually been asked a bunch of times recently on profiles. And it’s a pretty simple answer. I come from a family of doctors, and I was clearly supposed to go to medical school. My first year of college, I didn’t do that well. My next four, I did very, very well. But I was not getting into medical school in the United States. So I said, you know what? I’ll go to law school instead. And then I started suing doctors, actually I started defending doctors. Then I went to suing doctors. So there’s probably some therapy issues there that can be gone into. 

Chad Sands: Yes, a little schizophrenia. Did you always want to be a plaintiff’s lawyer though?

Hunter Shkolnik: Well, I was in a plaintiff’s firm very briefly because I had been clerking in law school, and for a few months after, I stayed with that firm. My mentor, the senior partner there, died in a plane crash. And I just said, this place is not for me anymore. And I went to a very large defense firm, large in those days. Today, it’s, you know, 400 lawyers is not large anymore. But then it was considered a big firm, and I joined them and did defense right away. Defense trial lawyer, spent five, almost five and a half years there. And they offered me the youngest partnership they’d ever offered to anyone in the firm. And I realized I’d become middle management in a bank, and I just walked out and became a plaintiff’s lawyer.

Chad Sands: Interesting. I didn’t know you started out on the defense side. With that in mind, the second question of the podcast has to do with how you differentiate yourself from others. So what makes you unique?

Hunter Shkolnik: Well, I don’t think I’m unique. I think there’s a lot of really great trial lawyers out there. I am lucky to work alongside some of the best and most successful lawyers in our industry. And when I say what I do, it’s, you know, we do very large mass litigation in environmental, pharmaceutical. And with my partners, we’ve been able to develop a law firm that has been successful beyond my wildest imaginations and allows me to work with literally the best of the best in, you know, the trial lawyer world. You know, to be able to share a courtroom with the likes of, you know, Mark Lanier, Jayne Conroy, Peter Mougey and Mike Papantonio. These are people that make a difference in a lot of people’s lives based on the case we handle. And to be able to work alongside as co-counsel, I should say I’m the lucky one as opposed to, you know, that I, that I’m somehow enlightened in any way.

Chad Sands: Some of those names you mentioned, I mean, what you guys are doing is pretty unreal in terms of holding these corporations accountable.

Hunter Shkolnik: I would say just this past year, we had probably 18 billion in settlements that we were leading in. The year before, we were part of the opioid litigation with these other great lawyers. And I left out names like Paul Geller and Elizabeth Cabraser, you know, the Joe Reiss’s and the Paul Farrell’s. We bet the ranch to go into that because we knew it was right. It was something that had to be dealt with, and people laughed at us and we did it. You know, we got over 52 billion, maybe 55 billion by now, of settlements that are going out to help treat the opioid epidemic. And now we have over 14.5 billion in environmental settlements for the PFOS, AFFF, cleaning up our water supply. So when I say all of us, not just my firm, not just me, but all those of us who gamble in these big cases are making changes. I mean, people’s water is going to be clean because of this.

Chad Sands: It’s not just a case.

Hunter Shkolnik: It’s not the car accident cases that I saw when I came out of school. Let me put it that way. And I’m not putting down people that have regular personal injury practices. I started there, we still have one. It’s just we saw that we could use our abilities in a way that people never thought personal injury or trial lawyers could ever do, and we were more the butt of jokes as opposed to fixing the ills of society. It was easy to throw stones at us and say ambulance chasing. But now. Now we’re making sure families have clean water. We’re making sure there are treatment centers for opioid addicts. It’s, you know, it’s kind of mind boggling.

Chad Sands: It is mind boggling what you guys have been able to do and the impact you’ve had on so many people.

Hunter Shkolnik: You know, we always looked at it as, you know, we’re helping people. There’s no question. We’re bringing these cases, getting compensation to people who are hurt. But then to move into that model and move it into being able to address social ills and social harms, you know, that was supposed to be government work, and they just weren’t doing the job and they didn’t have the money to do it. They didn’t have the resources. They just don’t have experts, you know, expertise in these areas. So now for us to step in and be able to represent those governments and municipalities to do what the governments want to do, but they don’t have the tools at their fingertips to do it themselves. So it’s a win-win for the governments and the municipalities. And the lawyers, of course, as well.

Chad Sands: Absolutely. Next, I’d love to hear a story about a case that has really stuck with you or made an impact on your career. Could you share a story?

Hunter Shkolnik: There’s a lot of them. I would go to cases like where I’ve represented families, just salt of the earth families that went through tragedies. One former Vietnam era helicopter pilot who years later is running a family helicopter business, commercial transport with it, and he crashes and survives, but is horribly injured. And when you sit with a family like that, just such good people, and you spend weeks and weeks with them during a trial and then you win a verdict, you realize it changes people’s lives. Because he had everything going for him, it was a great business. But without him it was sliding. And with the help of the verdict and the money they got, he was able to save this family business and it could have gone away and they would have nothing. So those types of cases I think. But then, you know, we just tried this opioid trial for seven months in New York. Taking a verdict against companies that were so recalcitrant, that refused to take any responsibility, and we’re just denigrating the whole process. And then have juries come back and hit them and hit them, you know, with like, you’ll never get us for liability. And the jury said, yes, you’re liable. And they went from offering pennies to paying half a billion, three quarters of $1 billion, maybe more, you know, in these massive settlements. Knowing that money is going to those communities that they were pretty much laughing at during the course of the trial. These are all things that make you realize you’re doing some good.

[Sponsor Break]

Narrator: At CloudLex, we understand the challenges personal injury law firms face every day. That’s why we’ve built the legal cloud platform to help you stay productive and keep your cases moving forward. CloudLex provides a comprehensive suite of applications and features to support every stage of intake, pre-litigation, trial, and more. From innovative case management to insightful analytics and HIPAA secure client communication, CloudLex empowers your firm with the technology to thrive. Build your firm of the future and see for yourself at

Now here is this episode’s closing argument.

Hunter Shkolnik: What is, I think, really important to understand is, you know, I got into being a lawyer kind of by accident. But over the years, I realized that the tools we were given, the tools I was given, the opportunities that it opened up, allowed me to do a lot of good. I’m very lucky. I have a wonderful family, grown daughters. One of them is a lawyer that works with me now. And to be able to work alongside her is something I never, ever imagined. But to be able to instill in her, as well as every other young lawyer that has worked with us or come across my path, I try to make it an opportunity to help them and help them grow.

I think the opportunities for young lawyers today are not the same opportunities we had, and it’s a shame. It’s a skill that you don’t get taught. It’s a skill you have to learn. So I get to bring young lawyers with me, and I think I have a great opportunity to show the younger lawyers, the younger people, you know, how to do this, how to do it right, how to do it professionally, ethically. And it may sound corny, but there are people that depend on us. Some of my worst experiences in this space are always the cases I’ve lost. And any lawyer who says they don’t lose cases, in essence, hasn’t tried cases. And when I see families that need anything and everything I can get to survive, and for whatever reason, a jury disagrees or we lose the case, that’s devastating. And I always kind of second guess myself, “What did I do wrong?” And I try to bring those types of, you know, experiences to other lawyers, younger lawyers we’re working with, so that they understand you’re not always going to be perfect. You got to gamble. I don’t go to Vegas and put money on tables. I can walk through a casino and never lose a penny. But I go into courtrooms and I let millions of dollars, in these days billions of dollars, ride. And I just say we’re gonna let it ride today. And we’re doing that because big companies should be required to take care of the mistakes they’ve made, the messes they’ve made, and the people we represent should get compensated. And I’d like to know I’m helping the next generation of those lawyers doing what we’re doing. And they’re going to do what I did in multiples.

Chad Sands: That was trial lawyer Hunter Shkolnick from Napoli Shkolnick, based out of Puerto Rico and New York City, just to name a few. Thanks for sharing your stories, Hunter. To learn more about Hunter, visit his website

Narrator: You’ve been listening to Celebrating Justice, presented by CloudLex and the Trial Lawyers Journal. Remember, the stories don’t end here. Visit to become part of our community and keep the conversation going. And for a deeper dive into the tools that empower personal injury law firms, visit to learn more.

I do a lot of research. I have an idea based on the characters that I’ve inserted and the arc of each character, how things will go. But I didn’t know how The Ambulance Chaser was going to end until I was about three quarters into it. And I have no idea how the sequel The Body Brokers is going to end.

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