Just before the birth of her second daughter Michele Bartoli Cain left her job as a Washington DC attorney to take on the role of a stay-at-home mom. It was quite a switch from her life as a litigator. In that occupation Michele had first worked as a trial attorney helping women injured by the Dalkon shield intrauterine device and later served as part of the successful legal team that obtained a $130 million dollar verdict against the Hunt brothers for their improper manipulation of the silver market in the 1980s.
Being at home as a young mother was enjoyable. Raising two daughters was a delight. However, seven years into her homemaking career Michele’s dentist, who had also been her maid of honor, collared her one day and said: “You are taking the PTA way too seriously. I saw a terrible case of dental malpractice. If you come back to work, I will teach you the dentistry.” Michele took on the challenge.
With her children still young, Michele began a dual career - continuing her roles at home while also developing her practice as a medical malpractice lawyer. She started by focusing on dental malpractice cases, but clients with injuries caused by other medical specialties soon headed her way. Balancing family responsibilities and her burgeoning career presented the expected challenges, but each new malpractice case taught Michele more about medical and dental issues, and her practice grew.
Flash forward several years: With her children grown and many malpractice cases successfully resolved, Michele founded her own firm. Stewarding the firm as a sole practitioner was often challenging, and she began to seek collaboration with esteemed colleagues. One such collaboration brought her together with Wallace B. Wason, Jr., an accomplished medical malpractice lawyer then practicing in Newport News. For more than 25 years Wally had been handling medical malpractice cases, first as a defense lawyer in Savannah, Georgia. In 1994 Wally began representing injured patients. As a partner in two different Virginia law firms Wally had successfully pursued malpractice cases involving a range of medical specialties including anesthesiology, cardiology, colorectal surgery, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, dermatology, emergency medicine, otolaryngology, family medicine, gastroenterology, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, pathology, pediatrics, pharmacy, psychiatry, pulmonology, radiology, surgery and urology. Wally’s familiarity with dentistry, however, was gained primarily through his father-in-law, who had been a dentist. But that was about to change.
Wally agreed in 2015 to work with Michele on a significant dental case. Over the course of this project they found that they worked well together, and both enjoyed the collegial relationship immensely. One case led to another, and then another, and in the fall of 2017, Michele and Wally decided to practice together full-time as partners, founding Bartoli Cain Wason, PLLC, with an official launch in January of 2018. The firm hit the ground running, trying three major dental malpractice cases in its first seven months, with two verdicts in excess of a million dollars each, and the third case resolving confidentially while the jury deliberated. Beyond these successes in the practice, the firm opened a new office in February 2018 and in July 2018, Wally relocated his home and family to Alexandria.
Michele states of their partnership, “Wally is not only brilliant, but he is also a wonderful person. The synergy works – in part because we share a common priority: We both cherish our families. While we both love our work, our families are a priority for each of us.”
Wally says, “Michele is a rocket full of energy with a boundless heart full of compassion for our clients to match. She really knows her stuff, but the main reason she achieves great results is because she cares. On the technical and administrative sides of the practice of law, we are also finding that she and I have different strengths, and the combination makes a really strong partnership.”
For people who have been injured by the negligence of others, whether medical professionals or in other contexts, Michele and Wally serve tirelessly in pursuit of just compensation.