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Virginia’s Go To Lawyers – Medical Malpractice: Michael L. Goodman

Michael L. GoodmanMichael L. Goodman
Member, Goodman Allen Donnelly
Glen Allen


JD, University of Virginia
BA, high distinction, Echols Scholar, University of Virginia

Best known for:

Candidly, I haven’t been a traditional “medical malpractice” lawyer in over 15 years. The first half of my career was spent representing physicians, nurses and hospital in such actions. For 15 years I also taught the weekly medical malpractice law seminar at the University of Richmond Law School until I transitioned into the fulltime practice of defending health care providers in licensure and peer review matters. Most of my clients are highly functioning (and some dysfunctional) clinicians who have for reasons known and unknown, have fallen from grace. I work with them to find or develop the necessary remedial tools to get them back into action or into good standing with their professional colleagues.

Signature case / representation:

I don’t want to single out any one practitioner or action, but in recent years, my clients have found themselves before the Va. Board of Medicine or one of the other boards of licensure for allegedly having:

  • over-prescribed narcotics or opioids
  • being impaired from substance abuse or mental health condition
  • crossed boundaries with their patients (e.g., a physician cannot have a sexual relationship with a patient even with their “consent”),
  • settled or tried and lost a medical malpractice action
  • been labeled as a “disruptive” provider because of the way they have interacted with their patients, staff or colleagues.

Satisfying aspect of practice:

Trying to help health care providers through some of their darkest hours and to find solutions to their problems. Sometimes, it is just being familiar with the way the regulatory system works and being able to answer their questions or point them in the right direction. My goal is to be a part of the solution. Sometimes I am their legal therapist.

Working with clients:

I try to listen, guide and educate. I don’t want to be too judgmental, but instead to help them to recognize and accept their error or indiscretion, or to identify why they are in the situation they’re in. Often, I am a reality check. I’m not here to insult anyone although I often find myself asking clients, “What were you possibly thinking when you did that.” (And sometimes I just live vicariously when I cannot possibly imagine doing what they are alleged to have done…)


“Keep your client and yourself out of the courtroom, you’ll both live longer that way.” It came from the late Judge Robert R. Merhige Jr., U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia. (He also told me I’d be a lot happier if I drew more cartoons and practiced law less).


I believe that the medical malpractice damage cap in Virginia will further erode in 2022 and disappear or evolve into a hybrid in the not too distant future. The cap on economic injuries will have to change as the cost of health care escalates.