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Virginia’s Go To Lawyers – Medical Malpractice: John Owen

John OwenJohn OwenJohn Owen
Shareholder, Harman Claytor Corrigan Wellman


JD, Washington & Lee University School of Law
BS, Bowling Green State University

Best known for:

I have had the privilege to work with (and, better stated, collaborate with) numerous hospitals and practice groups throughout Virginia. I have clients who have placed great trust and confidence in me and my outstanding colleagues at HCCW. I recognize my shortcomings, which my colleagues make up for and more, but believe that what I do offer my clients is a big picture, strategic approach to the handling of matters. It’s not a simple “check the box” approach to litigation. While there are certainly similarities in cases, there are nuances to every case that must be respected. I want to figure those out so that I can put my client is a position of success — whatever that may mean on any given case.

Signature case / representation:

To be honest, there isn’t “one” signature case of which I am most proud. I have memories, good and bad, from many of the cases I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in over the years. But, if I were forced to give one, it would be a case I tried in Roanoke a few years ago. It was a well-tried case that lasted several days — every day the lawyers went to lunch with the judge. At the conclusion of the case, the outcome will be left to the imagination, the lawyers for both sides and my client went to dinner at the Hotel Roanoke. Sure, there were disagreements during the trial, and maybe a few tense moments, but everyone respected one another and the job that was done. And, at the end, we shook hands and quickly set out for dinner, before one side prepped an appeal.

Satisfying aspect of practice:

Simply stated — I like being a lawyer. Over the years the profession has taken a hit, often due to a few bad actors, but I’m proud to stand up in the courtroom on behalf of my client. Sometimes we may forget the importance of what we do, but when I have a client who says, “Thank you for believing in me,” my choice of profession is reinforced. And, truth be told, it’s not always the biggest cases in which this occurs. It’s often the smaller matters where seemingly trivial issues to some are of critical importance to others.

Working with clients:

My advice it that it’s a team effort that starts with establishing a relationship built on trust. In many instances I represent clients who have just been served (for the first time) with a suit for millions of dollars. They are overwhelmed by the moment. My goal is to take as much of the burden off of their shoulders as they will allow. I explain that “I haven’t been sued, so I know you won’t be able to give me the entire burden, but my team and I will carry as much as you will allow.” From there forward, I strive to be available to my clients (oftentimes that is after hours) to answer questions and serve as a sounding board as they navigate through the process.


Wow, there is so much here. I was fortunate to begin my practice working for Frank Cowan and John OBrion. In that regard, I was certainly blessed. These gentlemen were true mentors — everywhere they went, I went. It was during these car rides, and probably a few cases, I learned what it meant to be a lawyer. I learned the importance of relationships, trust and respect (early on in life I learned this from my mother who was in the car business in Ohio, but these fine lawyers reinforced those teachings), whether it’s my client, adverse counsel, an adverse party or anyone else. These teachings hold true in every aspect of life — you can’t turn it on and off. And, I can tell you, it’s certainly a lot easier, more enjoyable, and less stressful to always take the high road.


I’m not sure we’re going to see a lot of change this coming year. I thought there may be a change in the landscape due to the pandemic, but in the medical malpractice world that really hasn’t occurred. I’m blessed to work with outstanding lawyers on both sides of the bar. While this may not be an answer to this question, my reality is that the lawyers I’m fortunate enough to work with (they know who they are) are outstanding at what they do, and respect one another’s work. This civility, in my opinion, leads to a constant (with little change) in the handling of medical malpractice cases in Virginia.