top of page

What We Do Matters to the People We Represent

April Fools’ Day.  We all know what that is about.  However, for me it is also the anniversary of when I started the practice of law.  I acknowledge there are those who would say that date is an appropriate one for me.  On April 1, 1984, I started work as a lawyer at a firm in Southwest Virginia, then called Penn, Stuart, Eskridge & Jones. The firm was an old one and they were excellent lawyers. To this day I am awed when I recall their work ethic. There was little, if any, tolerance of mediocrity.  For two and a half years, I defended car crash cases, slip and falls and other cases of this sort throughout Southwest Virginia – coal country. I got experience that few lawyers are lucky enough to get, broad experience handing my own cases. I probably did close to 20 jury trials and a huge number of depositions, hearings and other matters. The cases weren’t big ones, but they were mine. Law is a business where you learn by doing – and at Penn Stuart I was given the opportunity to do a lot. I will be forever grateful for the good training I got there.

I moved from the country to a large firm in Richmond in 1986 and in 1988 started to focus my practice on medical malpractice. For over 25 years I defended doctors and other healthcare providers throughout Virginia.  I tried lots of cases, probably over 100 jury trials – and in this business that is a big number. I did not win them all. There were losses and some of those losses were big ones.  But, any lawyer who says he or she has never lost a case is either a liar or has not tried many cases. The funny thing is that it is often the bad outcomes that teach you the most and make you a better lawyer.

Medical malpractice cases are what I love to do and, not to be too immodest, I am good at handling them. In 1999, our firm starting taking Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) cases on behalf of veterans and military families.  I have been involved in the practice all along, but in the last few years I have shifted my personal practice from being mostly defense to almost all FTCA.  Having so much experience as a defense lawyer is a significant advantage in representing patients.  I understand very well how a case might be defended, what works and what doesn’t work. 

Representing veterans and military families is both a challenge and a privilege.  What we do matters to the people we represent.  We can help them and often in a big way.  Now, with 33 years as a lawyer I am glad that I can use my extensive experience to help those who have served our country.  It is truly the peak of my career as a lawyer – and, even on April Fools’ Day, that is no joke at all. 


bottom of page