Matthew Lastrapes is one of the six founding partners of Commonwealth Law Group. He has dedicated his legal career to helping victims of injustice, especially those who have been injured due to the negligence of another party. Matt has successfully represented hundreds of clients who have suffered serious personal injuries due to accidents caused by negligent individuals or entities, including motor vehicle accidents, drunk driving accidents, slip and fall accidents, and personal attacks.
After his undergraduate work at the College of William & Mary where he graduated with a degree in history and a geology minor, Matt attended the Louisiana State University Paul M. Hebert School of Law where he graduated cum laude in 2008. He began his career in the New Orleans District Attorney’s office. During his three-and-a-half-year tenure with the D.A.’s office, he successfully tried numerous jury and judge trials, bringing justice to victims of crime.
“When I worked in the DA’s office, my job was to see that justice was done and to make sure the right person got convicted,” Matt explained. “It felt great when a defendant we convicted paid his debt to society and then got his act together, turned his life around and was able to positively contribute to society again.”
Matt moved to Richmond, Virginia in May 2012. He has transferred the legal experience he gained in criminal trials and now assists personal injury accident victims by diligently and aggressively pursuing their claims.
“I’ve never liked bullies; I take issue when stronger people take advantage of weaker people. That’s how personal injury law feels to me: it’s like David vs. Goliath,” Matt explained. “Our clients as individuals are sometimes up against huge insurance companies with teams of lawyers defending them, but the law is there to protect those who have been wronged. And I’m here to help them seek justice.”
Matt understands the importance of explaining to clients exactly what their legal rights are as an injured party, and what damages they may be able to recover. He then meticulously represents their best interests to help them get the justice they deserve.
While he believes that most problems can be solved through dialogue and good-faith negotiation, Matt also realizes that sometimes negotiations fail and litigation becomes necessary. When this happens, his familiarity in a court room serves his clients well.
“One thing I love about this country is that our constitution states that every person has the right to take their dispute to a jury to decide who’s in the wrong. A trial can be long, expensive and ultimately uncertain―but it’s always an option,” Matt said. “I’ve never met a defendant who is eager to have their case go to a jury. They’ll file every kind of motion they can think of to keep it from going to a jury trial―because they don’t want to bring the dispute into the public eye where everyone gets to see and hear what really happened.”
Though Matt practices most often in local and state courts within Virginia, he is also licensed to practice law in federal court and in the state of Louisiana.
“Now that I work in civil litigation, my job is to represent people and make sure they have a fair chance to get justice. In the end, it’s just my client, me, and the truth up against a very powerful insurance company bent on avoiding responsibility. Sometimes their overconfidence, their belief that juries are stupid―that is ultimately their undoing. Juries want to do the right thing, they just need someone to show them why they need to it.”
Matt has been honored with membership in the National Trial Lawyers’ Association’s Top 40 Under 40, a professional organization that promotes excellence in the practice of law by extending membership by invitation only to who it deems to be the top trial lawyers from each state. Invitees are selected in a multi-phase process that includes peer recommendations and third-party research. All members exhibit superior qualifications in reputation, leadership and trial results.
Matt and his wife, a pediatric oncologist at MCV, are both devoted to helping people who are facing very serious problems. They have a young daughter and spend as much family time together as their demanding jobs allow.
Matt was instrumental in Commonwealth Law Group becoming a gold-level sponsor for the ASK Foundation, which supports local area children who are fighting cancer, and their families. Matt and his wife also actively support Noah’s Children, a pediatric hospice program offered through Bon Secours.
Matt shared why he does what he does: “If you can help make life better for someone, shouldn’t you try to? If you’re in a position to help, then you have a moral obligation to help people who need it.”