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Excelling in the craft and challenge of appellate law

Appellate law operates unlike any other area of law, and requires an understanding – and appreciation for — the highly complex appellate rules, procedure, and process. It’s a legal discipline where John O’Herron has dedicated most of his law practice.

“I love writing and argument, and the craft of persuading through written and oral argument is immensely fun and rewarding,” says John, recognized as a “Rising Star” in appellate law by Virginia Super Lawyers and one of Virginia Business magazine’s Legal Elite for appellate law. Prior to joining ThompsonMcMullan, he completed a five-year clerkship under Cynthia D. Kinser, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, which solidified his love of appellate advocacy. “The writing and appellate analysis I did and the appellate advocacy I saw while clerking has been a tremendous asset to my legal practice. Appellate practice is a totally different animal than trial work, so having that experience has been invaluable.”

Driven by that experience and embracing the challenge of effective appellate advocacy, John offers a variety of appellate services to law firms, attorneys, and litigants who trust him for their appellate matters. This includes consulting and representation related to perfecting or resisting an appeal, briefing and argument, and amicus curiae representation.

John has represented insurance companies, individuals, non-profit organizations, and businesses in numerous appeals, tapping into his familiarity with appellate law and procedure and his proven track record of crafting successful appellate arguments. His unique expertise enables him to provide high-quality representation for written or oral advocacy to maximize the chance of success at both the petition and merits stages of an appeal.

John also excels in non-appellate matters. He regularly represents constitutional officers such as sheriffs and their deputies, clerks of court, and commonwealth’s attorneys in both litigation and non-litigation matters. He represents businesses in various types of disputes or legal needs, including those related to contract disputes or licensure, as well as insurance companies and their insureds in both coverage and liability disputes.

John and his wife live in Richmond with their five children. He enjoys music, reading, and spending time with his family. He is also passionate about education and is the founding president of Cardinal Newman Academy, an independent high school in Richmond.

Representative Experience

  • Transparent GMU, et al. v. George Mason University, et al. (Sup. Ct. Va. 2019) (briefed as amicus), representing several amicus entities in case addressing the applicability of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act to university foundations.
  • Forest Lakes Cmty. Ass’n v. United Land Corp. of Am., 293 Va. 113 (2017). Successfully represented property owner in multi-party litigation involving nuisance and trespass claims. The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled that the actions were barred by the statute of limitations.
  • In re Vauter, 292 Va. 761 (2016). Successfully represented Virginia circuit court in an original jurisdiction proceeding to determine whether a writ of prohibition lay to prohibit the court from exercising habeas corpus jurisdiction. The Supreme Court denied the writ on the grounds that the court had jurisdiction under the habeas corpus statutes.
  • Rafalko v. Georgiadis, 290 Va. 384 (2014). Successfully represented testator’s sons in appeal regarding whether they had violated a no-contest clause in their father’s will. In a 4-3 decision, the Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed the trial court’s ruling that it had authority to evaluate the trustee’s actions, that the sons had not violated the no-contest clause, and there was sufficient evidence to support that the trustee’s finding to the contrary was made in bad faith.
  • Unicolors Inc. v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz, L.P. (SCOTUS 2021) (briefed as amicus), representing Prof. Victoria Burke, stating the trust that underlies the copyright application process should impact § 411(b)’s “knowledge” requirement.


  • Selected to the Virginia Super Lawyers Virginia List, Appellate category (2020-2021)
  • Selected to the Super Lawyer’s “Rising Stars” Virginia List, Appellate category (2018-2019)
  • Virginia Business Magazine’s “Legal Elite,” Appellate Law category (2015-2021)


  • J.D., University of Richmond School of Law, cum laude, 2009
  • B.A., Christendom College, magna cum laude, 2006


  • All Virginia courts including the Supreme Court of Virginia
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit


  • Virginia Bar Association
  • Virginia State Bar
  • Member, Joint ADR Committee, Special Committee to Study Appellate Mediation in Virginia
  • The John Marshall Inn of Court
  • President, Board of Directors, Cardinal Newman Academy
  • Board of Directors, St. Thomas More Society

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