Rodney Norton

Rodney Norton is a trial attorney who practices throughout Oregon state and federal courts.  He carries a solid professional liability, medical caseload, and has tried nearly 200 jury trials to verdict in state and federal courts, including jury trials in the majority of trial courts in Oregon, as well as trial courts in Washington, Alaska and California.  His numerous medical malpractice trials have included many “wrongful” death and catastrophic injury cases, as well as severe injury cases ranging from complex surgical complications to brain injuries to alleged delayed diagnosis of cancer.

Rod also represents medical, dental, and nursing professionals in arbitrations, mediations, and regulatory matters before professional licensing boards.

Rod began his legal career in 1977 as an Assistant Attorney General in the Trial Division of the Oregon Department of Justice.  He became Trial Counsel for the Oregon Health & Science University in 1980, and was OHSU’s trial attorney from 1980 through 2002 with exclusive responsibility for trial defense of all medical, nursing, and dental malpractice claims and lawsuits against the University and its faculty and students during those two decades.  The Oregon Health & Science University is Oregon’s only academic medical center.

Rod joined Hart Wagner in July of 2002.  He continues to represent the Oregon Health & Science University in medical and dental malpractice lawsuits.  He also represents a host of other hospitals, clinics, physicians and dentists in Oregon, including, as examples, physicians insured by CNA and The Doctors’ Company, clinics such as The Oregon Clinic and The Portland Clinic, and hospitals such as Adventist Health, Tuality Hospital, PeaceHealth, and Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center.

When he isn’t practicing law, Rod spends as much time as possible with his family (wife Billie, English cocker Maggie, and cat Sailor) in and around water. He is a whitewater rafter and has rafted most of the rivers in the Pacific Northwest.  He has led private groups down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon on four different multi-week trips.  Rod also loves to sail.  He keeps his Tayana 48 in Puget Sound, and he has sailed throughout Desolation Sound in Canada.  He has also sailed extensively in the Caribbean, Greece, Croatia, Tahiti, and the Great Barrier Reef.

Rod is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, Oregon Association of Defense Counsel, and International Association of Defense Counsel.  He has been selected by Oregon Super Lawyers each year for the past eight years.  He has been selected to Best Lawyers in America for the past five years.  He was selected as Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers in 2014, 2016, and 2018.  He is a frequent invited lecturer to hospitals, health care organizations and professional groups on malpractice issues and trial practice.


Willamette University College of Law
J.D., cum laude, 1977

Washington State University
B.S., Phi Beta Kapa, 1974


Hart Wagner LLP
Partner, since 2003
Associate Attorney, 2002

Oregon Health & Science University
Trial Counsel, 1980-2002

The Honorable Edward Howell
Oregon Supreme Court
Law Clerk, 1978-1979

The Honorable Dan Evans
Governor of Washington
Law Clerk, 1978-1979

State of Oregon Department of Justice
Trial Division
Assistant Attorney General, 1977-1980

Admitted To Practice

Oregon State Courts
U.S. District Court: District of Oregon; District of Alaska; District of Wisconsin

Awards and Recognitions

America’s Top 100 Attorneys: Lifetime Achievement, 2016-present

Best Lawyers in America

Lawyer of the Year – Legal Malpractice Law: Defendants, 2014, 2016, 2018

Professional Malpractice Law – Defendants, 2015-2019

Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants, 2015-2019

Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law, 2015-2019

Legal Malpractice Law – Defendants, 2012-2019

Super Lawyers

Personal Injury Medical Malpractice: Defense, 2011-2018

Professional Activities and Associations

American Board of Trial Advocates, 2009-present
Oregon State Bar, Litigation Section, Health Law Section
Defense Research Institute, Medical Liability Committee
Oregon Association of Defense Counsel
American Inns of Court, Master
Willamette University College of Law, Adjunct Professor, Trial Practice


“Masters in Trial,” Faculty Member, American Board of Trial Advocates, November 2017

Legal Updates Seminars for:

  • The Doctors Company
  • Oregon Health & Science University
  • Oregon Association of Defense Counsel
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • American Medical Association

Community Activities

Foundation for the Advancement of Cleft Education and Services (FACES), Advisory Board Member