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  • Business Law/Commercial Litigation

  • Real Estate Litigation

  • Eminent Domain


  • J.D., University of Virginia School of Law (1994)

  • B.S., Williams College (1990)

    • Economics (major)

Bar Admissions

  • Virginia (1994)

  • Eastern District of Virginia

  • Western District of Virginia

  • Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit

  • District of Columbia (1995)

  • District of Columbia District Court

  • Maryland (2000)

  • District Court of Maryland


  • Member, Virginia State Senate (2007-present)

  • State Delegate (2002-2006)

  • City Councilman (1998-2002)

  • Virginia State Bar Association

  • Fairfax Bar Association

Past Employment Positions

  • Bracewell & Giuliani LLP (Associate and Partner)

  • Surovell, Isaacs, Petersen & Levy PLC (Partner)

John Chapman “Chap” Petersen is licensed to practice law in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.  In 24 years as a trial attorney, Chap Petersen has successfully tried hundreds of cases in state and Federal courts around the United States. He also serves as a Virginia State Senator, a position he has held since 2007.


Awards:  In 2017, the Fairfax County Bar Association awarded Mr. Petersen its “President’s Award” for his leadership in the Bar and community.  In 2011, the Virginia Lawyers Weekly selected Mr. Petersen as a “Leader in the Law,” one of thirty (30) lawyers recognized that year for outstanding accomplishments.  In 2008, the Korean Association of Washington, D.C. named him  “Man of the Year” for his service in the Korean-American community. 


Major Verdicts:  In 2011, Mr. Petersen won a $9.85 million verdict in a securities fraud case, Sanford v. SCG International LLC, one of Virginia’s “Top Ten Verdicts of the Year.”  In 2012, a jury in Salt Lake City, Utah, returned a verdict for $133.9 million in Spring Canyon, LLC v. PacifiCorp, based upon a trade secrets case that Mr. Petersen investigated and filed.  


In 2015, Mr. Petersen won a judgment (In re Haitham Sadeq) in the Eastern District of Virginia for $2.6 million arising from an international embezzlement.

Mr. Petersen was recognized in Virginia Lawyers Weekly “Virginia’s Largest Verdicts of 2019” concerning breaches of a promissory note and deed of trust prior to a foreclosure. Hunter Mill West LC v. Catjen LLC (Fairfax County Circuit Court 2019).


Eminent Domain:  In 2015, Mr. Petersen won a Fairfax County jury verdict in Commissioner of Highways v. Second Holly Knolls for ten times the settlement offer.  In 2016, Mr. Petersen secured a $1.2 million settlement for a Prince William County client who lost land and signage to VDOT.  Commissioner of Highways v. Gupta.  In 2020, the law firm secured a settlement of $1.275 million for a car wash impacted by highway condemnation.  Prince William County v. SGT Kang, LLC.


Appeals Practice:  Mr. Petersen has won major appellate victories, such as Park v. HHH Landmark, LLC (2008), which protects the rights of retail tenants in commercial leases, Nahigian v. Juno-Loudoun LLC (2012), which allowed a Virginia couple to rescind a $1.7 million land purchase, and Sharma v. USA International, LLC (2017) which permits small business owners to give opinion testimony on the value of their business.


In 2018, Mr. Petersen won a case before the Virginia Supreme Court, On Mae Eul Presbyterian Church v. Grace of God Presbyterian Church, regarding the rights of churches to hold and sell property. In 2019, he successfully reversed a defamation finding before the Supreme Court.  Handberg v. Goldberg.


International Practice: Mr. Petersen has represented clients in matters arising in Korea, Afghanistan, Trinidad, Pakistan, China, Malaysia, and Dubai.  


In Shenzhen ANT Hi-Tech v. MISI (2017), Mr. Petersen won a Federal jury verdict in Detroit, Michigan on behalf of a Chinese manufacturer of medical products.   In Choi v. Park (2006), Mr. Petersen won a Federal jury verdict in Virginia in a defamation case conducted entirely in Korean.


In 2018, Mr. Petersen defended a client who had been accused in four separate counts for fraud and obtaining money under false pretenses, facing up to 80 years in prison, and the jury acquitted the Defendant on all counts. Commonwealth v. Park (Fairfax Circuit Court).  


In 2020, Mr. Petersen successfully defended a 5 count lawsuit, alleging landlord of racial discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981-82 and tortious interference in connection with an assignment of a lease, which was dismissed on summary judgment. Mamadou et al. v. Cho et al., 1:20-cv-146-AJT-IDD, (E.D. Va., Nov. 6, 2020).


Community:  Mr. Petersen represents the 34th Senate District in Virginia which includes central and western Fairfax County in the state Senate. Previously, Mr. Petersen represented the Fairfax community as State Delegate and City Councilman.


Mr. Petersen is a graduate of Fairfax High School (1986), Williams College (1990) and the University of Virginia Law School (1994).  He is a member of Truro Anglican Church and coaches football and basketball for the Fairfax Police Youth Club. He is a life member of the Northern Virginia Rugby Football Club and has played with the Virginia Cardinals, an over-50 tea that won the national championship in 2018. 


Mr. Petersen also teaches Constitutional Law as an Adjunct Professor and serves as a student advisor at George Mason University Law School. 


Mr. Petersen has served since 2016 as legal counsel for the Native American Guardian Association, a Native-led association that seeks to preserve historic American names and imagery. 


He and his wife Sharon have four children and live in Fairfax City.


Case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case and do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case undertaken by the lawyer.

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