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Virginia’s Go To Lawyers – Medical Malpractice: Lee Livingston

Lee LivingstonLee Livingston
Partner, MichieHamlett

JD, College of William & Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law
BA, College of William & Mary

Best known for:

There are several types of cases I am best known for. Because many referral sources are high-volume automobile accident firms, they want to shy away from bringing claims against doctors who treat their patients. That gives me a disproportionate share of cases against ER doctors, orthopedic surgeons, and trauma surgeons.

I have been lucky to take cases to trial with some of our country’s best medical malpractice lawyers so that I learned the ropes for cases such as birth injury cases before trying them on my own.

Signature case / representation:

I represented a woman who lost her leg after an artery was cut during a knee replacement. The venue was a very conservative jurisdiction in which there had been no reported verdict against a physician at the time. The local newspaper published a front page story trumpeting the defendant’s low complication rates on the first day of trial. We achieved a $1.75 million verdict for this deserving person.

Satisfying aspect of practice:

The most satisfying thing about law practice is overcoming a well-funded and aggressive opposition to achieve a life-changing result to help a person who is in dire need and has suffered greatly.

While we cannot turn back the clock or give a person their health back, we can make a huge difference in quality of life by achieving some measure of justice.

This often takes enormous effort to learn the medicine, overcome stereotypes, and navigate the claim to a successful resolution. The fact that significant sums of money are at risk in the form of advanced cost makes recovery all the more gratifying because we are literally sticking our own necks out for deserving people.

Working with clients:

I feel constrained about my approach to advising clients because the tort system is only set up to achieve a good result for a narrow band of people who have been injured. So my approach is to merely educate and inform the clients of the guard rails that I cannot move. Doing this with a measure of lament that the system does not work better, and walking alongside the client rather than trying to pull them through the process, is my approach.


The best career advice that I have received is to take one day at a time and look at what good was done that day, not what needs to be done tomorrow. We work in an environment where there will always be much more to do. We can live with a chronic sense of failure or cultivate satisfaction based on the substantial amount of work we do each day. Even though the ball may only be moved a few yards, there are very few days where we actually lose yardage.


Most lawyers are appreciating the fact that substantial cost savings are to be had for both sides by conducting expert depositions, particularly of out-of-state experts, by Zoom.

As the medical malpractice cap reaches $2.5 million, the psychological thresholds of $1 million and $2 million settlements will bend in favor of patients as exposure has increased substantially from the days when the cap was stuck at $2 million for many years.