James L. Chapman, IV

Jim focuses his legal practice on representing businesses and individuals in litigation. He is frequently hired in matters involving large loss exposure in injury, death and property damage cases. He also has extensive experience litigating commercial disputes.

Jim has tried over 100 cases to jury verdicts for his clients and formerly taught courses in Trial Practice and Federal Courts at Regent University School of Law. Jim speaks and writes on select topics of interest to the insurance, maritime and unmanned systems industries.

Apart from the practice of law, Jim is most proud of his service to his alma mater, Virginia Tech. From 2013 – 2017, he served on the governing Board of Visitors, and was Rector (Chair) of the Board in 2016 - 2017. Virginia Tech is a leading public research university with an annual budget in excess of $1.6 billion, enrolling over 30,000 students annually. The University motto is Ut Prosim, Latin for “That I May Serve,” which is Jim’s passion for both Virginia Tech and his clients.

Washington & Lee University School of Law, J.D., 1982
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, B.A., magna cum laude, 1979
Military Service
United States Army, Judge Advocate General's Corps, Captain
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
Community Involvement
Future of Hampton Roads, Inc. (President, 2000-2001)
Rotary International, Norfolk Sunrise Club (President, 2013-2014)
Representative Experience
Representative Matters
Articles and Presentations
  • Federal and state court litigation in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Maryland, New Mexico and California.
  • Defend businesses and individuals in casualty litigation arising from injury, death, property damage and other torts.
  • Vessel arrests and attachments to obtain security for maritime liens.
  • Maritime salvage disputes, including treasure salvage.
  • Lecturer on insurance and other topics of interest to the maritime industry.
  • Adjunct Professor of Law, Regent University School of Law (2001—2011)
  • Captain, United States Army, Judge Advocate General’s Corps (Active Duty 1982-1986).



  • Obtained defense jury verdict in $10,000,000 railroad worker asbestosis case
  • Obtained judgment of exoneration for a leading aggregate supplier arising from vessel casualty
  • Successfully defended marine equipment manufacturer in product liability defect case involving widespread structural failure claims
  • 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
  • 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
  • Obtained $600,000 judgment against vessel for damage to historic railroad bridge


  • Favorably resolved wrongful death claim by estates of three families collectively seeking $25,000,000 for drowning deaths at marina
  • Favorably resolved $10,000,000 claim for traumatic lower extremity amputation
  • Favorably resolved $20,000,000 claim for catastrophic brain injury to maritime worker
  • Successfully settled $20,000,000 marina fire loss claim for consortium of insurers following favorable liability ruling on summary judgment
  • Obtained favorable recovery on behalf of insurer in mass tort carbon monoxide poisoning and death cases against gas hot water system installer
  • Favorably resolved $2,000,000 dissident shareholder claim on behalf of majority shareholders of privately held mortgage brokerage without litigation


  • Borrower’s counsel for closely held commercial fishing business in complex $15,000,000 multi-vessel fleet refinancing transaction
  • Seller’s counsel for closely-held alcohol beverage distribution business in multi-phased $30,000,000 purchase


  • “American Justice: The Intersection of Legal Liability and Autonomous Systems”, 2019 Unmanned Systems Symposium, AUVSI (October 2019)
  •  To Be Forgotten…or Not to Be Forgotten?, Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel Annual Meeting, Debate Panel Moderator (August 2, 2019)
  • Mitigating the Cost of Data Breach, Defense Research Institute (DRI), Data and Security Dispatch, Volume 4 Issue 2 (October 4, 2018)
  • American Justice: At the Intersection of Legal Liability and Autonomous Systems, presented at the 2nd Annual Unmanned Systems Conference (October 9-10, 2018), Sponsored by the AUVSI Ridge & Valley Chapter, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Tools, Toys and Torts:  What You Need to Know about Aerial Drones in Virginia, sponsored by Norfolk and Portsmouth Bar Association (September 20, 2018)
  • FRA-Mandated Conductor Training Programs: Don’t Let Yours Become a Train Wreck, sponsored by Virginia Railroad Association (October 2, 2017 Annual Meeting)
  • Shipping and Maritime Law 2014, Roundtable Panel, presented by Corporate Live Wire (October 2014)
  • Deconstructing a Jury Trial, presented to Norfolk and Portsmouth Bar Association (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)


News and Updates
Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on April 8, 2021
Genesis Sends Up 3,281 Drones In Record-Breaking Drone Show The company put on the record-breaking drone light show to celebrate its entry into China markets. Valkyrie Drone Launches Even Smaller Drone From…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on April 1, 2021
Drone In Your Home? The Telehealth Industry Is Getting a Makeover A group of inventors at the University of Cincinnati are developing a drone that can be used to conduct virtual…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on March 25, 2021
Meet The Oregon Robot That Could Change Package Delivery As We Know It Agility Robotics makes bipedal robots, with arms and legs, that will be used in junction with autonomous vehicles…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on March 18, 2021
Most Americans Are Not Ready for Self-Driving Cars While most Americans are ready to embrace new vehicle technology, the majority are not yet ready for their car to drive itself. US Army…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on March 11, 2021
Your Self-Driving Car Still Isn't Ready—Smarter Roads Might Change That Challenges still limit self-driving cars when it comes to identifying potential hazards on the road, such as identifying puddles and seeing…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on March 4, 2021
Volkswagen To Accelerate Autonomous Commercial Vehicle Development Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) is accelerating its autonomous and electric driving development projects, with an aim at introducing its autonomous systems for traffic use…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on February 24, 2021
Your Ride Is Here! Waymo Brings Self-Driving Taxis to San Francisco in New Test Waymo, the autonomous driving unit of Google parent Alphabet will being testing its driverless taxi service with…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on February 18, 2021
Self-Driving Cars Won’t Go Mainstream Until We Solve This Problem There is a major problem that needs to be addressed before we can let our cars do all the driving for…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on February 10, 2021
The Apple Car May Be a Self-Driving Vehicle Built in the U.S. by Kia Apple is closing in on a deal with Kia to bring its self-driving vehicle to market by…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on February 3, 2021
Robot Boats and Drones Will Test Outer Banks Oyster Beds for Water Pollution In an effort to save oyster farmers from losing about a quarter of their annual earnings, a team…...
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