Rodney K. Norton

Partner vCard PDF

Rod has been a trial lawyer his entire career, and he has tried more than 200 jury trials to verdict in state and federal courts in Oregon, Washington, California, and Alaska. He has, in fact, had jury trials in the majority of trial courts throughout Oregon. His practice primarily focuses on the defense of medical malpractice lawsuits, and his caseload has included a wide range of lawsuits involving issues of “wrongful” death, catastrophic injuries, complex surgical complications, mental health and suicide, traumatic brain injuries, and alleged delayed diagnosis of cancer.

Law Practice Continued

Rod’s clients include the Oregon Health & Science University, and Adventist Health, as well as a host of hospitals, clinics, physicians and dentists in Oregon, including, as examples, physicians insured by CNA and The Doctors’ Company, clinics such as The Oregon Clinic, The Portland Clinic, and hospitals such as Tuality Hospital, Tillamook Hospital, PeaceHealth, and Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. In addition to being a trial lawyer, Rod represents medical, dental, and nursing professionals in arbitrations, mediations, and regulatory matters before professional licensing boards.

Rod began his legal career in 1977 as a trial attorney 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. Rod left OHSU for private practice and joined Hart Wagner as a partner in July of 2002.

Rod is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, Oregon Association of Defense Counsel, and an emeritus member of the International Association of Defense Counsel.  He has been selected by Oregon Super Lawyers each year for the past nine years.  He has been selected to Best Lawyers in America for the past seven years.  He was selected as Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers in 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020.

Rod is also a frequent invited lecturer to hospitals, health care organizations and professional groups on malpractice issues and trial practice.

When Rod isn’t practicing law, he spends as much time as possible with his family (wife Billie, English Cocker Maggie, and Devil 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 multi-week trips.  Rod also loves to sail.  He keeps his Tayana 48 (Moana) in Puget Sound, and he has sailed throughout the Salish Sea in Washington and British Columbia.  He has also sailed extensively in the Caribbean, Greece, Croatia, Tahiti, and across the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.


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

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 Courts: District of Oregon; District of Alaska; District of Wisconsin

Pro Hac Vice admissions: State Courts of Washington, Idaho, and California

Awards and Recognition

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

Best Lawyers in America

Lawyer of the Year – Professional Malpractice Law – Defendants, 2020

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

Professional Malpractice Law – Defendants, 2015-2021

Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants, 2015-2021

Ethics and Professional Responsibility Law, 2015-2021

Legal Malpractice Law – Defendants, 2012-2021

Super Lawyers

Personal Injury Medical Malpractice: Defense, 2011-2020

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

Related News & Results