CO-CHAIR, INSURANCE RECOVERY PRACTICE GROUP
Jim Murray leads Blank Rome’s policyholder-only insurance recovery practice, formerly the insurance practice of Dickstein Shapiro LLP. Jim is the only policyholder trial lawyer in the country who is a Fellow of both the American College of Trial Lawyers (“ACTL”) and the American College of Coverage Counsel (“ACCC”). He has litigated cases in 24 states for top-tier corporate clients and has represented individuals and an array of religious institutions and government entities.
Jim is ranked nationally in insurance by Chambers USA as well as in Band 1 in Washington, D.C. Best Lawyers named him its 2020 “Lawyer of the Year” for Insurance Litigation in Washington, D.C. BTI Consulting Group designated him a 2019 “Client Service All-Star.” The National Law Journal named Jim a “D.C. Trailblazer” in 2020 and, in 2017, a “Plaintiffs’ Lawyers Trailblazer” (one of 15 nationally in all practices areas). In both 2020 and 2017, the National Law Journal named Blank Rome as the D.C. Litigation Department of the Year for Insurance. Law360 has twice named him an MVP in Insurance Coverage.
Jim’s industry recognitions span more than 20 years. Recent commentary includes:
- Legal 500 2022: “…one of the real senior statemen in the practice area, a Rhodes Scholar who lived up to the promise that suggests and probably the very best policyholder lawyer in the world when it comes to trying a case to a jury…”.
- Chambers 2022: “Jim is, in my estimation, the very best policyholder lawyer in the country when it comes to handling a complex insurance case. His combination of legal smarts and courtroom skill places him at the very top of this practice area.” Prior years reported “particular praise for his calm and common-sense approach to cross-examining.”
- Chambers 2021: “…has a brilliant mind and a high level of creativity…skilled not just in litigation but settlements and dealing with clients too.”
- Benchmark Litigation (2021): “Serving as chair of the insurance recovery practice … in addition to playing the role of being one of the firm’s most vital leaders, among the nation’s most skilled insurance litigators…[.]”
Jim served on the District of Columbia State Committee of the ACTL for five years. Membership in the ACTL is extended only by invitation, after extensive investigation, to those trial lawyers who have mastered the art of advocacy and whose professional careers have been marked by the highest standards of ethical conduct, professionalism, civility, and collegiality. He is also listed in the National Trial Lawyers’ “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” for the District of Columbia (Civil) and was selected as a member of the Nation’s Top One Percent by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel (“NADC”) in 2022.
Jim was formerly a leader of the insurance coverage practice at an Am Law 200 firm and a partner in the litigation and insurance practices of an Am Law 100 firm where he served on the firm’s Partnership Evaluation and Business Development Committees. From 1996 to 2007, he was a founding and managing partner of a trial practice boutique in Seattle, Washington.
He clerked for the Honorable James Hunter III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from 1981 to 1982 and was special assistant to William H. Webster, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, from 1983 to 1985. He is a Rhodes Scholar.
Jim’s work in high-profile and exceptionally challenging cases across the country has earned him consistent praise from clients and opposing counsel alike:
- A Delaware Superior Court approved a $123.1 million class action settlement involving underlying claims of sexual abuse, noting in its published opinion that “…the Court must commend Beebe and its nationally renowned coverage counsel, James R. Murray, Esquire, for their tireless efforts in overcoming many obstacles to obtaining insurance coverage […].”
- In a Law360 interview, a former adversary representing AIG singled out Jim as a litigator he feared facing in court, telling the publication, “Jim is a savvy trial lawyer capable of quickly and effectively adjusting his presentation during trial.”
- An opposing counsel on behalf of London insurers told U.S. News, “My view is that Jim provides the highest level of advocacy on behalf of his clients. He is a formidable though professional and fair adversary.”
- Of all his accolades, he is most proud of juror feedback, such as these unsolicited comments from a Jury Foreperson: “Mr. Murray, I wanted to convey to you what a comprehensive and methodical case you presented to the jurors over these past weeks. There was hardly a juror in that room who didn’t at one time voice that of all the attorneys present, any one of them would hope for your representation. Your demeanor was professional, non-judgmental, non-condescending and sans ‘smoke and mirrors’ tactics. Thank you for an eye-opening experience.”
Outside the Firm
Jim is married to Lynne Bivona and has a son and daughter. He was raised on a farm and ranch on the Fort Peck Reservation in Eastern Montana. He plays folk and country music when he has time, and for many years has caught the occasional gig with his brother in their Northwest band, Smoke Creek.