Robert W. McFarland Partner

Focusing on civil litigation, Rob concentrates his practice on commercial litigation (including business and contract disputes, commercial lease and real estate matters, construction, and insurance coverage); intellectual property; trust and estate litigation; financial and consumer services; municipal liability, tort, products liability and personal injury; and representation of employers in all facets of employment litigation.

Rob joined the firm in 1985 upon completion of a federal clerkship for the Honorable John A. MacKenzie, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He has tried more than 130 cases to juries, as well as dozens of non-jury trials. He has appeared in every federal and state court in southeastern Virginia, and in other states, and has successfully argued appeals before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Virginia.

A majority of Rob's practice is in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia's Norfolk and Newport News divisions. Because of his experience and familiarity with these federal forums, he regularly represents non-Virginia based employers and corporations in federal litigation.

Rob is a past president of the Tidewater Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. He has authored several articles on federal practice, discovery, expert witnesses and damages, and regularly lectures on federal and state practice and procedure, discovery, expert witnesses and municipal liability. Extremely active in the Norfolk community, Rob presently serves as secretary and trustee to Norfolk Collegiate School, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Westminster-Canterbury on the Bay, and Trustee for the Hermitage Museum.


Representation of the board of directors of a publicly traded corporation in a shareholders’ derivative action.

Representation of marine salvage company in obtaining a $110 million salvage award and title to the artifacts recovered from the expeditions to the wreck of the RMS Titanic.

Representation of a large U.S. bank in suit for religious discrimination and FMLA violations; jury verdict, affirmed on appeal.

Representation of public school system in teacher’s suit alleging First Amendment violations for removal of religious materials; summary judgment affirmed by 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Representation of an international chemical manufacturer in asbestos wrongful death action: jury verdict.

Successful trials in the areas of business litigation; construction; covenants not to compete; contracts; employment discrimination; and real estate.

  • Georgetown University Law Center, JD, magna cum laude, Member and Editor, Georgetown University Law Journal, 1984
  • University of Virginia, BA, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1981

Current Chair, Long Range Planning Committee, Westminster-Canterbury of Virginia Beach, and Past Chairman of the Board, 2010-2018

Former President, Tidewater Chapter, Federal Bar Association, 1997-1998

Past President, Dockside Art Review, Tidewater d'Art Center

Alumni Board of Directors and Inaugural Class of 1988-1989, Leadership Hampton Roads

Past Secretary, Board of Trustees, Norfolk Collegiate School, 2009-2018

  • Speaker, "Business Litigation in Virginia," Advanced Business Litigation Institute, annually 2008-2012
  • Speaker, "Overview of the Trial," Norfolk & Portsmouth Bar Association's Bench & Bar Conference, April 2012
  • Speaker, "Motions to Dismiss After Twombly and Iqbal," Norfolk & Portsmouth Bar Association, May 2011
  • Speaker, "Rules and Procedures for Federal Court Success," NBI, July 2008
  • Virginia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia

Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Woodward/White, Inc., 2005-2023

Named to "Virginia Super Lawyers," Civil Litigation Defense, Business Litigation, Intellectual Property Litigation, Super Lawyers, Thomson Reuters, 2006, 2008-2021

Named "Lawyer of the Year," Bet-the-Company Litigation, Norfolk, Best Lawyers, 2017, 2019, 2021

Named to "Virginia Legal Elite," Commercial Litigation, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2015; Civil Litigation, 2016-2021, Virginia Business Magazine

Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America Trial Lawyers Honorary Society, Inducted 2009 

  • Hon. John A. MacKenzie, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, 1984-1985
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