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Virginia’s Go To Lawyers – Workers’ Comp Law: John C. Johnson

johnson_johnJohn C. Johnson
Attorney
The Johnson Law Group PLC
Roanoke

Education

BA, Virginia Military Institute
JD, Washington & Lee University School of Law

Best known for:

For the first 30 years of my practice I represented employers and insurers primarily; however, for the next half of my practice I intend to use the same skills to represent injured workers. I have handled cases throughout the Commonwealth from the initial hearing before the Deputy Commissioner up to the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Signature case:

One of the more intriguing cases in which I have been involved was Carrington v. Aquatic Co., 297 Va 520, 829 S.E.2d 530 (2019). I was up against one of the best claimant’s attorneys in Virginia, and we spent several years together with this case as it worked its way up through the full commission, the Court of Appeals, and ultimately the Supreme Court. At each step of the way I learned something new that reinforced my belief that no decision should be made lightly at any hearing; we should always try each case as if we are trying it for the Supreme Court because one day we’ll be correct.

Most satisfying:

The most satisfying thing about the practice of law is that it offers me the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and to continue a lifetime of learning. I try to learn something from each case; sometimes it is a little nugget of information from an opposing party, or perhaps my client. But these little nuggets add up.

Working with clients:

People rarely seek the company of a lawyer when they are happy, so we have to be prepared to deal with them at a difficult time in their lives. And there are many occasions when we have to deliver bad news or tell them why they cannot prevail in their case. But above all else, clients deserve to know everything about their case – the good and the bad. My approach to advising a client is to give that person as much information as possible so that she may make a truly informed decision; often that means telling them what they do not want to hear.

Best career advice:

I have been fortunate to have many mentors over a 30-year career, and I have learned so much from those on both sides of the courtroom. But what stands out in my mind the most is to never pass up an opportunity to shut up. The Good Lord gave us two ears but only one mouth for a reason. And some of the best outcomes I have achieved in cases over the years was the result of listening instead of talking.

Looking ahead:

I envision ADR becoming even more prevalent as it truly does allow for the parties to create their own resolution to their cases. I believe that the General Assembly will expand the presumptions under the occupational disease section of the Workers’ Compensation Act. And I believe that Zoom-type platforms will stay for many proceedings.