James A. McGovern


James devotes the majority of his practice to the defense of attorneys, accountants, brokers, broker-dealers, investment firms, insurance agents, real estate agents, architects, engineers and other professionals in professional negligence claims. He also counsels and represents clients with regard to regulatory matters with self-regulatory organizations and state securities and insurance commissions. He regularly represents clients in state and federal court proceedings and at Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) arbitration hearings and mediations throughout the country. James has defended several matters involving directors and officers liability, including claims for breach of fiduciary duties, negligence, misfeasance and shareholder derivative suits. He also has commercial litigation experience involving mergers and acquisitions, non-compete agreements, franchise agreements and contractual disputes. 

James has tried numerous cases to jury verdicts and arbitration panel awards and has successfully argued several cases in the appellate courts of Pennsylvania. 

Following law school, James served as a law clerk to The Honorable Robert I. Richter of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and subsequently lived and practiced in Virginia and the District of Columbia before returning to Pittsburgh.

James has been awarded an AV® Preeminent™ by Martindale-Hubbell, which identifies a lawyer with very high to preeminent legal ability, and is a reflection of his knowledge, experience, integrity and overall professional excellence.






Significant Representative Matters

Successfully defended an architectural firm in settlement of a multiple party case in which a university student housing building under construction caught fire due to cigarettes purportedly being disposed of in a construction trash chute and also due to alleged building code violations. The fire spread to an adjacent six-block city area, causing extensive property damage and the alleged death of a neighborhood resident.

Successfully defended an architect in the settlement of a multiple party claim involving the alleged improper design and construction of a wheelchair access ramp in a former warehouse building being converted to alternative usage. The plaintiff allegedly tripped and fell on the ramp causing quadriplegic injuries.

Successful on a motion to dismiss in a case asserting a breach of implied warranty of workmanship against an architect involving a construction project wherein the property on which the buildings designed by the architect had been previously undermined for coal.

Successful in obtaining a dismissal of an engineering malpractice claim due to Plaintiff's failure to file a certificate of merit. Prevailed against Plaintiff's argument that a certificate of merit was not necessary because the claim was based on a theory of negligent misrepresentation and not professional malpractice.

Successful on a motion to dismiss in a claim against an attorney for the alleged negligent drafting of a will wherein the decedent's two adult children received disproportionate distributions. (Affirmed on appeal.)

Successful in obtaining summary judgment in a case of first impression in favor of an insurance agent in a case involving alleged improprieties regarding uninsured/underinsured motorists' waiver forms.

Successful in obtaining summary judgment in favor of a county mental health agency in a case involving an involuntary psychiatric commitment of a hospital patient who threatened to mutilate herself if she was not given the medical treatment of her choice. (Affirmed on appeal.)

Successful in obtaining a dismissal in a case of first impression against an investment professional in a civil action brought under the Pennsylvania Identity Theft Statute involving allegations of forged and unauthorized annuity withdrawals by the annuitant's daughter.

Successful in obtaining a jury verdict in a products liability claim brought against the manufacturer of a forging hammer whose operator lost a finger while misusing the hammer.

Successful in obtaining a judgment notwithstanding the jury verdict in favor of a county in a civil rights claim brought by a tax assessment advisor who represented clients in tax assessment hearings conducted by the county commissioners.

Successful in obtaining numerous arbitration awards in favor of brokers and brokerage firms accused of negligent investment advice.

Successful in obtaining summary judgment in a case of first impression in a claim brought against a pesticide applicator pursuant to the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. (Affirmed on appeal.)

Successful in obtaining summary judgment in a case against a brokerage firm in which it was alleged that over 30 plaintiffs were sold worthless promissory notes by a former registered representative of the firm. (Affirmed on appeal.)

Published Works

Legal Updates for Insurance Agents & Brokers, Regular Contributor, 2018-present

"Pennsylvania Imposes Additional Requirements on Insurance Agents and Companies Regarding the Sale or Replacement of Annuities," Legal Updates for Insurance Agents & Brokers, September 24, 2018


District of Columbia
U.S. Supreme Court
The George Washington University Law School (J.D., 1990)
University of Pittsburgh (B.S., magna cum laude, 1987)
Honors & awards
The Best Lawyers in America©, Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants
Associations & memberships
Allegheny County Bar Association
Pennsylvania Bar Association
Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association
Year joined