John M. McGarry



John M. McGarry concentrates his practice in representing physicians and hospitals in actions alleging medical negligence. He has first-chaired over 35 jury trial victories in his distinguished career and successfully concluded hundreds of other cases short of trial. He has also assisted physicians before the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and at hearings before hospital review boards.

In 2017, the American Institute for Personal Injury Attorneys selected Mr. McGarry “for membership as one of the ‘10 Best Attorneys’ for Illinois” for “an impeccable client satisfaction rating.”  Since 2016, Best Lawyers Illinois has named him one of the top 10 medical malpractice law defense counsel in the state. In 2012, he was selected as among The Top 1% Trial Counsel for medical malpractice in Illinois. Since 2013, Chicago’s Best Lawyers has annually named him and his partner, Richard H. Donohue, two of the top eight medical malpractice defense attorneys in the city.

After receiving his law degree from Washington & Lee University in 1983, Mr. McGarry worked at Baker & McKenzie on anti-trust and defamation matters before serving as a captain in the United States Marine Corps. He received the “Superior Physical Performance” award at Officer Candidate School and was a honor graduate of the Naval Justice School. As a judge advocate, he served as Chief Trial Counsel and then Chief Defense Counsel at his base and was awarded the Navy Commendation medal for “sustained superior performance.”*

In 1988, he returned to Baker & McKenzie for 11 years. In addition to representing physicians and hospitals, Mr. McGarry oversaw litigation in 30 states for an international medical device manufacturer, represented pharmaceutical companies, and participated in a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation in Greece.

Mr. McGarry is an Advocate of the American Board of Trial Advocates, a national organization that promotes the improvement of ethical and technical standards of trial practice.  Only 150 of the 95,000 lawyers in Illinois have been elected to membership after being nominated by their peers.  For a member to become an Advocate, the lawyer must have tried at least 50 civil jury trials as lead counsel or at least 25 civil jury trials as lead counsel plus felony criminal jury trials as lead counsel or second chair trials equaling 500 points.  Mr. McGarry is also a Fellow of The Litigation Counsel of America.  “Less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers, vigorously vetted for skills, expertise, and service” are invited to join the LCA.

Mr. McGarry is certified by the Illinois Supreme Court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. He has been a member of the faculty for the Federal Trial Bar Training Course and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, as well as the director of associate training for 17 years at his law firms. Published in The CBA Record, the Illinois Bar Journal, and Mutual Interests, he has given numerous speeches to various hospital staffs and medical societies, including Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, the University of Illinois Medical School, and the Illinois Association for Bariatric Surgery.

Mr. McGarry has been named an Illinois Super Lawyer (top 5%) consistently in the area of professional liability defense.  He achieved the AV Preeminent peer review rating, the highest rating in legal ability and ethical standards. In addition he was peer-selected as a “Leading Lawyer in medical malpractice defense law (top 5%)” and has been selected by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® in the specialty of medical malpractice law since 2013.

*The full citation reads: “For meritorious service while serving as Judge Advocate, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, from January 1985 to November 1988. During this period, Captain McGarry consistently performed his duties in an exemplary and highly professional manner. Through his exceptional legal acumen and trial skills, Captain McGarry acted as trial and defense counsel in 263 courts-martial, including 48 general courts-martial. Representing the Government in the most complex cases, he set the highest standards by which other lawyers are judged. Additionally, giving selflessly of his personal time, he immeasurably assisted less experienced attorneys and provided sagacious advice to commanders. Because of his energetic efforts, he was respected and admired by all who observed him. Captain McGarry’s sustained superior performance, initiative, and total dedication to duty reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.” Signed by Gen. Alfred Gray, Commandant of the Marine Corps.




    • American Jurisprudence Award, Business Organizations
    • Trial Practice, top four
    • Washington & Lee Political Review, Co-Editor-in-Chief
    • Federalist Society, founding member of W & L chapter
  • KENYON COLLEGE, B.A., 1980
    • cum laude, Political Science



  • Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America, The Trial Lawyer Honorary Society
  • The Top 1% Trial Counsel (medical malpractice) (2012)
  • Chicago’s Best Lawyers (top eight med mal defense lawyers in Chicago) (2013-present)
  • Super Lawyer (“Top Rated Lawyer”) (top 5%) (2005-2007, 2009-present)
  • Leading Lawyer (top 5%) (2012-present)
  • Illinois Best Lawyers (top 10 med mal defense lawyers in state) (2016-present)
  • The American Institute for Personal Injury Attorneys, “10 Best Attorneys for Illinois” for “an impeccable client satisfaction rating.” (2017)
  • The Best Lawyers in America® in the specialty of medical malpractice law (2013-present)
  • AV Preeminent peer review rating, the highest rating in legal ability and ethical standards
  • American Board of Trial Advocates, Advocate
  • UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS, 1984-’88, Captain, judge advocate,
    • “Superior Physical Performance” award, Officer Candidate School (1982)
    • Honor Graduate, Naval Justice School (1984)
    • Augmentation into regular officer corps (1986)
    • Navy Commendation Medal (“sustained superior performance”) as Chief Trial Counsel and Chief Defense Counsel (1988)


  • Illinois Supreme Court (1983)
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (1991)
  • District Court, Northern District of Illinois (1989)



  • “Discovery and Trial, Tactics and Strategy,” The Kemper Group, Chicago (1995)
  • “Instructions for the Deposition Witness,” The Travelers Group, Hartford, CT (1997)
  • “Tools to Minimize and Avoid Litigation Risks,” CNA Group Re, Chicago (1998)
  • “Improving Communications to Reduce Malpractice Risk,” Chicago Medical Society (2003)
  • “Reducing Malpractice Risk,” Illinois State Medical Society (2004)
  • “Reducing Malpractice Risk,” Northwestern Memorial Hospital (2009)
  • “Avoiding the Medical Malpractice Lawsuit,” Illinois Association of Bariatric Surgeons (2014)
  • “It’s How Depositions Should Be,” Rush University Medical Center (2016)
  • “Developments in Tort Reform,” Illinois Association of Bariatric Surgeons (2017)
  • “Reducing Malpractice Risk,” The University of Illinois School of Medicine, Department of Surgery, Grand Rounds (2022)



  • Arthur Andersen Center for Professional Education, St. Charles, IL 1997


  • Faculty, Federal Trial Bar Training Course, 1997, 1998

DIRECTOR, ASSOCIATE TRAINING PROGRAMS, 1994-1999 at Baker & McKenzie, 2003-2006, 2010-2015, 2018-2019.


  • “Defending a Civil Lawsuit: Checklist for the Initial Stages of Litigation”, The CBA Record, Vol. II. No. 4 (May 1997)
  • “Defeating a Post-Deposition Affidavit”, Illinois Bar Journal, Vol. 89 (April 2001)
  • “Public Information Could Damage Your Case,” Mutual Interests (2004)
  • “Beware of Legal Terms of Art,” Mutual Interests (2005)


DBMS Obtains a Defense Verdict in Cook County




Defense Verdict.

John McGarry and Jacinta Reck of Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC successfully defended a bariatric surgeon at trial where plaintiff alleged the surgeon negligently left a foreign body in ...


DBMS Obtains a Defense Verdict in Cook County




Defense Verdict.

John McGarry and Zachary Kutsulis of DBMS successfully defended an obstetrician who plaintiff alleged negligently performed a circumcision that resulted in the need for surgical repair. After a week-long trial, ...


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