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James L. Chapman, IV

Jim is a veteran trial lawyer. Whether it's a bet-the-company case, shipping disaster or shareholder dispute, his extensive trial experience and accumulated knowledge give him the insight to efficiently sift through complicated facts and provide wise counsel in the thorniest of cases. Jim frequently advises governing boards and senior leadership regarding risks and resolution strategies in high-profile cases. His service as counsel to several corporations, and as a director and officer of non-profit boards, has further enhanced his ability to guide other clients and organizations. As chair of the firm’s litigation department, he pursues an efficient and collaborative approach to developing innovative solutions for his clients.

In 2013, Jim was appointed to serve on the governing board of Virginia Tech, currently serves as its Rector, and previously chaired the Finance and Audit Committee. Today, Virginia Tech is a leading research university with an annual budget of $1.4 billion, serving over 30,000 students. The University’s motto is Ut Prosim, Latin for “That I May Serve,” which Jim does with passion for both his alma mater and his clients.
Washington & Lee University School of Law, J.D., 1982
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, B.A., magna cum laude, 1979
Bar/Court Admissions
Virginia State Bar
North Carolina State Bar
United States Supreme Court
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
United States District Court, Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia
United States District Court, Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of North Carolina
Representative Experience
Representative Matters
Articles and Presentations
  • General counsel for businesses advising across full spectrum of management issues including governance, finance, regulatory compliance, employment, insurance and strategic planning.
  • Represents clients in a range of business disputes, including contracts, property rights, tort liability and other matters.
  • Federal and state court litigation in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Maryland, New Mexico and California.
  • Represents marine insurers and insureds involving the full range of marine insurance disputes: H&M, P&I, pollution, FD&D, war risk, yacht and cargo.
  • Cases involving injuries and death within admiralty jurisdiction under the Jones Act, section 905(b) of the LHWCA, DOHSA, and the general maritime law.
  • Vessel arrests and attachments to obtain security for maritime liens.
  • Treasure salvage matters.
  • Represents lenders, borrowers, buyers and sellers of vessels requiring perfection of preferred ship mortgages and other security interests.
  • EPA/USCG vessel investigations involving Oil Pollution Act and other environmental law violations.
  • Limitation of Liability actions on behalf of vessel owners.
  • Lecturer on insurance and other topics of interest to the maritime industry.
  • Adjunct Professor of Law, Regent University School of Law.
  • Captain, United States Army, Judge Advocate General Corps (1982-1990).


  • Obtained $48,000,000 maritime salvage award of gold treasure and $2,000,000 of other historic artifacts recovered from the 1857 wreck of the S.S. Central America
  • Obtained $16,000,000 jury verdict for bank defrauded in loan participation scheme
  • Borrower’s counsel for closely held commercial fishing business in complex $15,000,000 multi-vessel fleet refinancing transaction
  • Obtained defense jury verdict in favor of raw materials supplier sued by manufacturer for $1,500,000 on claim of supplying contaminated product; jury awarded $900,000 to client on counterclaim against manufacturer
  • Favorably resolved wrongful death claim by estates of three families collectively seeking $25,000,000 for drowning deaths at marina
  • Seller’s counsel for closely-held alcohol beverage distribution business in multi-phased $30,000,000 purchase
  • Represented company officer in federal criminal prosecution alleging violation of occupational safety laws resulting in multiple workplace deaths from industrial explosion; negotiated no jail time plea agreement
  • Favorably resolved $10,000,000 claim for traumatic lower extremity amputation
  • Obtained $600,000 judgment against vessel for damage to historic railroad bridge
  • Advised national vessel manufacturer in connection with regulatory and product liability law compliance matters applicable to entire product line
  • Obtained favorable recovery on behalf of insurer in mass tort carbon monoxide poisoning and death cases against gas hot water system installer
  • Successfully defended marine equipment manufacturer in product liability defect case involving widespread structural failure claims
  • Retained to defend high-profile racial discrimination case that had been tried three times by another firm, with two adverse verdicts against client; after reversal on appeal, tried case fourth time resulting in hung jury; case settled favorably during preparation for fifth trial
  • Obtained defense jury verdict in $10,000,000 railroad worker asbestosis case
  • Favorably resolved $2,000,0000 dissident shareholder claim on behalf of  majority shareholders of privately held mortgage brokerage without litigation
  • Favorably resolved $20,000,000 claim for catastrophic brain injury to maritime worker
  • Advised closely held construction company in connection with establishing captive offshore self-insurance entity
  • Secured judgment of exoneration for a leading aggregate supplier arising from vessel casualty
  • Successfully settled $20,000,000 marina fire loss claim for consortium of insurers following favorable liability ruling on summary judgment
  • Shipping and Maritime Law 2014“, Roundtable Panel, presented by Corporate Live Wire (October 2014)
  • “Deconstructing a Jury Trial,” presented at NPBA Seminar (2011)
  • “Red Letter Clauses in Marina Slip Leases,” presented at SEALI Annual Meeting (2008)
  • “Marine Insurance Claims and Practice,” presented at Lorman Marine Insurance Seminar (2007)
  • “Ten Tempting (But Improper) Closing Arguments,” presented at SEALI Annual Meeting (2004)
  • “Cargo Litigation: A Primer on Cargo Claims and Review of Recent Developments,” (Co-Author S. A. Voyles) 16 U.S.F. Mar. L.J. 1 (Spring 2004)
  • “Treasure Salvage: Is it Finders-Keepers?” (Co-Presenter M.M. Poindexter) presented at SEALI Annual Meeting (1991)
News and Updates
CWM Attorneys Recognized by Virginia Super Lawyers®
Posted on April 17, 2017
Crenshaw, Ware & Martin, P.L.C. is pleased to announce that nine of its lawyers have been selected for inclusion in the 2017 list of Virginia Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars. ......
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Jim Chapman Represents Plaintiff, Receives 100% Treasure Salvage Award in S.S. Central America Case
Posted on September 7, 2016
Federal Judge Announces Favorable Ruling in the Matter of the SS Central America and Recognizes the  Contribution of Odyssey Marine Exploration TAMPA, Fla., Sept. 06, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ira Owen......
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Seven Crenshaw, Ware & Martin PLC Attorneys Named to 2017 Best Lawyers® in America
Posted on August 15, 2016
Crenshaw, Ware & Martin is pleased to announce that seven of its lawyers have been named to the 2017 Edition of Best Lawyers in America. Delphine G. Carnes Project Finance Law Public Finance......
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Chapman to Serve as Rector of the Board of Visitors of Virginia Tech
Posted on July 1, 2016
James L. Chapman, Jr., a partner with the firm, was elected to serve as rector of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University Board of Visitors for the coming year.......
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CWM Attorneys Recognized by Virginia Super Lawyers®
Posted on April 7, 2016
Crenshaw, Ware & Martin, P.L.C. is pleased to announce that ten of its lawyers were included in the 2016 list of Virginia Super Lawyers® and Rising Stars.  According to Virginia......
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Jim Chapman inducted as a Fellow in the Virginia Law Foundation
Posted on February 3, 2016
CWM is proud to announce that Jim Chapman has been inducted as a Fellow in the Virginia Law Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Virginia bar.Each year the Foundation selects......
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CWM is pleased to announce seven lawyers named to the 2016 Edition of Best Lawyers in America
Posted on September 1, 2015
Crenshaw, Ware & Martin PLC is pleased to announce that seven of its lawyers have been named to the 2016 Edition of Best Lawyers in America. Delphine G. Carnes - Project......
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Attorneys Named to Virginia Business Magazine's 2014 'Legal Elite'
Posted on December 1, 2014
Crenshaw, Ware & Martin is pleased to announce that the following attorneys have been named among the "Legal Elite" for 2014 by Virginia Business Magazine: James L. Chapman, IV - Civil......
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2014 Corporate Live Wire Roundtable on Shipping & Maritime Law
Posted on October 14, 2014
James Chapman was a member of the panel of experts from around the world in the Shipping & Maritime Law 2014 roundtable presented by Corporate Live Wire.  The panel discussed the......
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James Chapman and Steve Stancliff represent partnership in win for rights to salvage gold treasure
Posted on July 10, 2014
CINCINNATI (AP) — A fugitive treasure hunter's company has lost its bid to stop deep-sea explorers from bringing up gold and other artifacts from a ship that sank off the......
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