Chris Gowen serves as the managing partner for Gowen Silva & Winograd. Legal professionals both inside and outside of the beltway regularly refer to Mr. Gowen as a “jack of all trades” due to the scope of his litigation experience. Mr. Gowen’s practice focuses primarily on civil negligence cases and family law, however, his litigation experience includes basic and high-profile criminal cases, politically charged litigation, landlord tenant actions, college and university disciplinary hearings, employment discrimination, civil rights cases and civil RICO. In October of 2019, Chris completed his 100th trial, winning a civil case in DC Superior Court.
Mr. Gowen is well-known for providing thoughtful, caring and reasonable representation for clients during difficult and challenging times. His family law practice covers issues of divorce, custody and visitation/access, child support, alimony, property distribution and domestic violence. He has also successfully litigated third-party custody actions, where non-parent relatives sought custody or access of a child.
Mr. Gowen is trained in the area of Collaborative Law, an innovative approach to resolving family law issues that fosters and promotes communication and cooperation between the parties and counsel. The Collaborative Law approach seeks a more constructive and respectful path to resolution in a manner that is private, focused on the needs of the clients and/or their children, and puts control of the outcome in the hands of the clients, rather than the courts. Additional information regarding the collaborative approach to resolving family law cases may be viewed at www.marylandcollaborativepractice.com and www.collaborativepractice.com. A lawyer trained in collaborative law often can resolve contested divorce cases more quickly and with lower legal fees than divorces resolved through the court system.
In 2019, Mr. Gowen recovered over a million dollars for child clients of his who were victims of abuse, neglect, negligent supervision, wrongful death, professional negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Mr. Gowen has represented numerous plaintiffs in personal injury cases including professional negligence, car accidents, negligent supervision by schools and residential facilities, negligent hiring, civil rights claims, discrimination, wrongful death from a fire, and premises liability claims.
Several of Mr. Gowen’s cases receive media attention, allowing the firm to establish strong relationships with reporters in and around the District. One case in particular caught the attention of President Trump, who directed this re-tweet at Mr. Gowen.
In 2015, Mr. Gowen represented lawyers who dedicated their lives to representing indigenous Ecuadorian villagers against a powerful oil company. (Listen to NPR interview about case).
Other significant accomplishments include (1) being one of a handful of lawyers in the country to ever have a pre-nuptial agreement invalidated during a divorce proceeding for breach of contract; (2) winning a significant legal ruling where the court ruled that the historic Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hughes could be applied retroactively for same sex couples in jurisdictions that recognize common law marriage. (Read the Brief and Opinion); and (3) winning four court of appeals cases including two family law cases in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals (Opinions 1 & 2).
Mr. Gowen is licensed to practice in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Florida, and several federal courts. He completed his undergraduate education at Wake Forest University and Villanova University, graduating in 2000 from Villanova with a Bachelor of Science. Chris graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 2005.
Mr. Gowen currently is an award-winning adjunct law professor at the American University Washington College of Law, where he has taught since 2010.
Upon graduation from law school, Mr. Gowen served as a Public Defender in Miami Dade County and then worked for former President Bill Clinton and former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a traveling aid and director of campaign operations. Other political work included serving on John Kerry’s presidential campaign, Governor Tom Wolf’s campaign and inauguration, as well as Constitutional Law Professor Michael Higginbotham’s campaign for Congress.
In his free time Chris enjoys playing tennis and golf, listening to live music, and sailing with his family. He served on the board of directors for the PG Pool from 2014-2018, and currently serves on the board for the Crofton Swim and Tennis Club.
- District of Columbia
- United States District Court for Maryland
- United States District Court for the District of Columbia
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Honors, Awards & Certifications
- DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Certification, La Pier & Associates, 2013
- Adjunct Professor of the Year Award, American University Washington College of Law, 2012
- Excellence in Adjunct Appointment Award, American University, 2013
- University of Miami, School of Law (J.D.)
- Villanova University, Villanova School of Business (Bachelor of Business Administration)
- Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association (District of Columbia)
- The American Association for Justice (U.S.)
- Montgomery County Bar Association (Maryland)
Publications & Media
- Crofton Swim and Tennis Club – Board of Directors
- United States Tennis Association
- Anne Arundel County Tennis Association
- Maryland Golf Association
- Crofton Country Club