E. Ford Stephens


804.697.4124 (p)
804.697.6124 (f)

Professional Affiliations

Defense Research Institute
• Membership Committee, 2017-present
• Insurance Roundtable Steering Committee, 2016-present
• Life, Health and Disability Committee, Chair, 2014-2016; Vice Chair, 2012-2014; Program Chair, 2011
• Insurance Law Committee
• Appellate Advocacy Committee

American Bar Association
• Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section

Association of Life Insurance Counsel

International Association of Defense Counsel

Virginia State Bar
• Appellate Practice Committee of the Litigation Section
• Special Committee on Lawyer Malpractice Insurance, Former Member
• Litigation Section, Young Lawyer's Committee, Former Member

Virginia Law Foundation
• Former Chair, Committee on Continuing Legal Education, which oversees the non-profit educational division of the Virginia Law Foundation, 2007-2011

Attorney's Liability Assurance Society
• Claims Counsel and Loss Prevention Partner for the Firm

John Marshall Inn of Court
• Executive Committee, 2010-2013

The Bar Association of the City of Richmond

Community Involvement

Leadership Metro Richmond
• Class of 2010

Central Virginia Legal Aid
• Volunteer, 1989-2011, 2013-2014

United Way of Greater Richmond
• Volunteer, 1992-1995

River Road Hills Association
• President, 2001-2003

Lower Ralston Court Homeowners Association
• President, 2003-2006

Ford Stephens is a partner in the firm’s Litigation department.  His practice focuses on insurance law, appeals and commercial litigation. Mr. Stephens has engaged in a wide spectrum of insurance litigation, including coverage disputes, individual and group benefit claims, bad faith, life and disability claims, accidental death, policy rescission and cancellation, agent conduct, and ERISA.  He represents clients from both the private and public sectors in a diverse range of commercial disputes, has handled appeals in federal and state courts in Virginia, and has appellate experience in other jurisdictions as well. 

Mr. Stephens is the firm's claims counsel and loss prevention partner. He has been active in bar leadership, formerly serving on the board of the Virginia Law Foundation as chair of its committee on Continuing Legal Education. He is a frequent lecturer on insurance and other topics at both national and statewide seminars, and is a contributing author to American Bar Association publications on ERISA and misrepresentations in the life, health and disability insurance application process, and several DRI publications.

Representative Insurance Litigation and Insurance Coverage Matters

  • Defense of insurers and claims fiduciaries in ERISA litigation involving life, health and disability coverages.
  • Representation of insurers in various types of accidental death claims, including deaths involving DUIs and acute alcoholism, in both state and federal court.
  • Representation of insurers in coverage litigation involving CGL policies, homeowners’ policies, surplus lines policies, workers’ compensation and classification endorsements.
  • Advice on environmental liability insurance and D&O coverage issues.
  • Asserted misrepresentation as grounds for rescission of several types of insurance policies and in a variety of fact situations.
  • Defense of insurers on claims involving allegations of bad faith.
  • Representation of insurers relating to agent conduct in federal and state courts.

Representative Virginia Appellate Litigation

  • Oral arguments in more than a half dozen appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and briefed more.
  • Argument before the Supreme Court of Virginia on a trial court's finding of no coverage under an all-risk policy.
  • Argued to uphold a district court’s finding that a life insurance policy was void because of material misrepresentations in the application.
  • Argument before both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the Supreme Court of Virginia on an appeal regarding whether an insured had applied for, or consented to the issuance of, a policy.
  • Presentation of oral arguments in products liability cases on appeal.
  • Argued appeals involving a public nursing home, privileges at a public hospital and Medicaid reimbursements.

Representative Commercial Litigation

  • Assertion of claims on behalf of an EMT agency for unpaid fees.
  • Representation of clients in various contract claims.
  • Representation of the Commonwealth in mandamus proceedings involving courthouses.

Representative Cases

Select Publications

  • Contributing author, American Bar Association's publication, ERISA Survey of Federal Circuits, 2018 (also 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2014)
  • Contributing author, American Bar Association's publication, Misrepresentation in the Life, Health and Disability Insurance Application Process: A National Survey, 2009 and 2015
  • Regional editor and contributing author, DRI's Writing a Reservation of Rights: A North American Compendium, 2014
  • "Statutory Interpleader in Federal Court—A Cure for Conflicting Claims," IADC Insurance and Reinsurance Newsletter, January 2014
  • Co-author, “Avoiding the Pitfalls of Writing a Reservation of Rights in an Unfamiliar State,” The Voice, November 2013
  • “The Vexation of Conflicting Claims: Rule and Statutory Interpleaders in Federal Court,” For the Defense, October 2012
  • Contributing author, DRI’s Excess and Umbrella Insurance State-by-State Compendium, 2011
  • Contributing author, DRI Removal Deskbook—Getting Your Case to Federal Court, 2011
  • Co-author, “Coverage Within the Ivy Walls: Select Insurance Issues Involving College Students,” For The Defense, May 2009

Select Presentations

  • Co-presenter, DRI’s Boot Camp for New Life, Health and Disability Lawyers, 2017
  • Co-presenter, “Accidental Death and Dismemberment Update," DRI’s Life, Health, Disability and ERISA Claims Seminar, 2017
  • Co-presenter, Eastern Claims Conference, 2017
  • Co-presenter, Eastern Claims Conference, 2016
  • Presenter, DRI’s Boot Camp for New Life, Health and Disability Lawyers, 2015
  • Co-presenter, Eastern Claims Conference, 2015
  • Co-presenter, “Protecting the Attorney-Client Privilege,” DRI’s Life, Health, Disability and ERISA Claims Seminar, 2014
  • Co-presenter, Eastern Claims Conference, 2014
  • Co-presenter, “Life Insurance Basics,” DRI's Boot Camp for New Life, Health and Disability Lawyers, 2013
  • Co-presenter, Eastern Claims Conference, 2013
  • Co-presenter, “Current Procedural Strategies and Issues in Coverage Litigation,” DRI’s Insurance Coverage and Practice Symposium, 2012
  • Co-presenter, Eastern Claims Conference, 2012
  • Co-presenter, 38th Annual TIPS Midwinter Symposium on Insurance and Employee Benefits, 2012
  • Co-presenter, “Accidental Death Claims: Illness vs. Accident, Medical Mishaps and Drug Overdose,” Eastern Claims Conference, 2011
  • Co-presenter, “Murder, Mayhem and Misery,” 37th Annual TIPS Midwinter Symposium on Insurance and Employee Benefits, 2011
  • Co-presenter, “Insurance: Coverage, Claims and Contracts,” Virginia Bar Association’s 12th Annual Corporate Counsel Fall Forum, 2010
  • Co-presenter, “An Insured’s Death or Injury in a DUI—Is it an Accident for Purposes of Insurance Coverage?” Eastern Claims Conference, 2010
  • Co-presenter, “Taking it up on Appeal – Litigating in the Fourth Circuit,” Virginia CLE, 2009
  • Seminar paper and presentation, DRI’s Life, Health, Disability and ERISA Claims Seminar, 2009
  • Co-presenter, “Myth or Reality – Drunk Driving Fatalities are ‘Accidental’ for Accidental Death Insurance,” West LegalWorks, 2009
  • Seminar paper and presentation, DRI’s Life, Health, Disability and ERISA Claims Seminar, 2006
  • Faculty, The 24th National Regulatory Conference, 2006
  • Seminar paper and presentation, Annual Meeting of the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys, 2004
  • Faculty, 34th Annual Advanced Business Law Seminar, Virginia CLE, 2003
  • Facilitator, ALPS/VSB Risk Management Seminars; 2002–2005, 2007

Practice Areas

Trials/Appeals/Alternative Dispute Resolution


University of Virginia, J.D., 1986

University of Virginia, B.A., 1983, with distinction


• Virginia
• Supreme Court of Virginia
• U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
• U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia
• U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
• U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
• U.S. Supreme Court


• AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated

The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation
• Elected in 2013

The Fellows of the Virginia Law Foundation
• Class of 2011

The Best Lawyers in America©  
• Insurance Law, Litigation-Insurance, 2015-2018

Virginia Super Lawyers
• Insurance Coverage, 2013-2017
• Business Litigation, 2010-2012  

Legal Elite (Virginia Business)
• Legal Services/Pro Bono, 2006, 2008, 2013
• Alternative Dispute Resolution, 2011