Getting to Know: Joe Van Horn


Joe Van Horn grew up in Mattawan and graduated from Mattawan High School, before earning a bachelor of arts degree in political science/pre-law from Michigan State University.

After graduating from Drake Law School in Des Moines, Ia., with honors, Van Horn clerked for a year with the state district court judges in Polk County.

He then practiced law in Denver, focusing on defense of police officers in all aspects of litigation.

Moving back to Michigan, he practiced in Traverse City, focusing on medical malpractice defense and health care law.

Van Horn joined Willingham & Cote this past April, and continues to focus primarily on medical malpractice defense.

He is a member of the Ingham County Bar and is admitted in both the Eastern and Western Districts of Michigan.

By Sheila Pursglove   
Legal News

What would surprise people about your job?
The amount of travel in litigation, especially with a medical malpractice focus, can be intense. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of time to enjoy all the locations and sights along the way.

What advice do you have for someone considering law school?
Be prepared to work harder than you ever have but have fun along the way. You will need to lean on your family and classmates during these years for support.

What’ s your proudest moment as a lawyer? My first successful jury trial. I finally felt the years of hard work and studying had paid off.

What other career path might you have chosen? I started out at Michigan State as a pre-veterinary medicine major. I always wanted to do something in medicine or law.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? Successfully graduating from law school and passing the bar in several jurisdictions.

What do you do to relax? Spend time traveling with my wife and three children, as well as watching a good football game.

What would you say to your 16-year-old self? Girls are not so scary.

Favorite website?

Favorite apps? News and travel apps and ESPN Fantasy Football.

Favorite music? Old ‘80s songs, country, and anything by U2.

What is your happiest childhood memory? Going to the arcade on 10-cent game night, eating pizza, and playing all the old-school video games from the 1980s.

What is your most treasured material possession? My Keurig coffee machine.

What do you wish someone would invent? A teleportation machine. It would save so much time and allow for so much more exploration.

What’s the most awe-inspiring place you’ve ever been? A hospital, watching each of my three children being born. Nothing really compares to that.

If you could have one super power, what would it be? Reading other people’s thoughts.  Seems like that could be useful

What’s one thing you would like to learn to do? Cook better and more interesting meals. My kids are over my three-meal repertoire. 

What is something most people don't know about you? I managed to break and dislocate my ankle attempting to TP my neighbor’s house in the middle of the night after Michigan State beat Michigan in 2017. This used to be a long-running tradition between us. I am now retired.

What’s the best advice you ever received? Everything in moderation. 

What is your motto? Nothing in moderation.

Favorite place to spend money? On vacation with my family, preferably somewhere warm and doing something we would never have the opportunity to do at home.