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 January 11, 2021
Drones Become More Trendy in the Construction Industry The construction industry is ushering in a new line of equipment this new year. Whether it’s investigating a leaky roof or scouting out…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on January 4, 2021
Apple Targets Production of Self-Driving Cars by 2024 and Eyes ‘Next Level’ Battery Technology The software company is moving forward with self-driving car technology, and will produce a passenger vehicle that…...
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Virginia Business Announces 21st Anniversary “Legal Elite”
Posted on December 30, 2020
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on December 21, 2020
Self-Driving Robotaxis Are Taking Off in China The world has been inching toward fully autonomous cars for years.  In China, one company just got even closer to making it a reality. …...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on December 14, 2020
Ford’s Self-Driving Vehicles Deliver Food and School Supplies to Families in Need As the car company prepares to launch a commercial fleet of self‑driving vehicles, Ford is learning from recent experiences…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on December 7, 2020
Drones Have Raised the Odds and Risks of Small Wars Drone Warfare: the success of unmanned aerial vehicles in recent conflicts could tempt more countries to go on the offensive. Self-driving Taxis…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on November 25, 2020
Walmart Using Drones to Deliver At-Home Coronavirus Test Kits The company partnered with Quest Diagnostics and DroneUp to launch trial deliveries of the self-collection kits in New York and Texas. University Tests…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on November 20, 2020
Sony Prepares to Enter the Drone Game with Airpeak The consumer products giant accounted that it is entering the drone market with a new brand. U.S. Army Looks at Mass Recharging for…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on November 6, 2020
Walmart is Giving Up on Shelf-Scanning Robots in Favor of Humans The retail giant has ended a contract with Bossa Nova Robotics.  They found that humans could do the job just…...
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Week in Review: Autonomous Roundup
Posted on October 30, 2020
Paramedics in Manned Drones to Save More Lives Falck, a global provider of emergency medical services, has plans to make manned drones an integral part of its fire and emergency medical…...
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