John F. Watson – Member

John F. Watson has been an attorney with Craig & Craig in the Mattoon office since July of 1999. He became a Partner with the Firm in 2003 and continues to practice out of the Mattoon office. Mr. Watson’s fields of practice include general civil litigation, medical malpractice defense, municipal liability defense, insurance coverage and insurance law, and intellectual property law.

Mr. Watson graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Bradley University in 1990, and received his Juris Doctorate, with Honors, from The John Marshall Law School in 1993. During law school, Mr. Watson served as an Associate Editor for The John Marshall Law Review and had his Note published in the Winter 1993 Volume of The John Marshall Law Review on the issue of public education in Illinois.

Mr. Watson began his practice in criminal law as an Assistant State’s Attorney quickly being elevated to a felony prosecutor. In 1997, Mr. Watson took a position as the Special Assistant Drug Prosecutor with the State’s Attorneys’ Appellate Prosecutor’s office, conducting drug prosecutions in the Fourth District of Illinois. In January of 1999, Mr. Watson became the First Assistant State’s Attorney in Coles County. In July of 1999, Mr. Watson was hired by the firm of Craig & Craig and has focused his practice in civil litigation, medical and professional liability matters and insurance coverage litigation. Mr. Watson is a registered Patent Attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and handles Intellectual Property matters.

Mr. Watson is actively involved in the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel (IDC), and in June 2017 was nominated and elected to serve as one of its Board of Directors.  At the IDC Annual Meeting held June 24, 2022, Mr. Watson was elected Secretary/Treasurer and to a position on the Executive Committee.  Mr. Watson will progress through the positions in the Executive Committee to become President of the IDC in June of 2027.

On June 8, 2012, the IDC Board appointed John F. Watson to the Editorial Board of the IDC Quarterly. Being a part of the IDC Quarterly Editorial Board was of special interest to Mr. Watson because of his role and activities on the Editorial Board of The John Marshall Law Review while in law school. Mr. Watson served as an Editor for the IDC Quarterly from 2012 to 2016, and then served as its Editor-in-Chief from June of 2016 to May of 2017. Mr. Watson also served as the Editor-in-Chief of the IDC Survey of Law for 2018.

Mr. Watson has served as the Chair of the Fall Conference Committee, and was part of a leadership group made up of the several bar associations (including the Illinois State Bar Assn., IDC, Chicago Bar Assn., Cook County Bar Assn. and the Women’s Bar Assn.) which presented a Symposium on addressing the Judicial Selection Process in Illinois focusing on the pros and cons of merit selection and the election process. He also serves as the Vice-Chair of the Amicus Committee which recommends IDC participation in Illinois Appellate Court and Illinois Supreme Court cases as a “friend of the court.”

Mr. John F. Watson has contributed to several legal bodies of work including making a presentation to the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel on Illinois Tort Litigation for the Fall Conference of 2009 and authoring Chapter 10, Third-Party Practice as part of the Illinois Civil Practice: Opening the Case Volume published by the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education.  Recently, Mr. Watson and one of his associates, Chase A. Rich, authored an IICLE chapter on Insurance Broker Malpractice, with a publication date of May 4, 2021.

Mr. Watson has been recognized as a Member of the Leading Lawyers Network in the fields of Insurance, Insurance Coverage & Reinsurance Law, Medical Malpractice Defense Law and Personal Injury Defense Law. Mr. Watson was recommended as a Leading Lawyer in a state wide survey. Fewer than 5% of the lawyers in Illinois receive the distinction as being a Leading Lawyer.

Additionally, Mr. Watson has received an “AV Preeminent” Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating. Reviewers are lawyers and judges across multiple jurisdictions and geographic locations and are listed on They are from similar areas of practice as the lawyer being rated, who know or have worked with the lawyer under review, and are able to rate them on their professional ethical standards and legal ability. An AV Preeminent certification mark is a significant rating accomplishment and reflective that a lawyer’s peers rank him at the highest level of professional excellence.


Practice Areas


  • The John Marshall Law School, J.D., with honors, 1993
  • Bradley University, B.S., Mechanical Engineering, 1990

Bar Admissions

  • 1993, Illinois
  • 1999, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
  • 2005, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Illinois
  • 2020, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • 2006, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • 1994, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office


  • The John Marshall Law Review, Member, 1991-1993; Associate Leads Editor, 1992-1993.
  • John Marshall Moot Court Saul Lefkowitz Trademark Competition (1993).
  • Coles-Cumberland Bar Association (Secretary-Treasurer, 2001- 2004; President, 2013 – 2014; Member 1995 – Present).
  • Illinois State and American Bar Associations.
  • Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel,
    • Member, Fall Conference Committee, 2006-2010
    • Chair, Fall Conference Committee, 2010-2011
    • Member, Municipal Law Committee, 2012 – 2016
    • Vice-Chair, Amicus Committee, 2012 – 2021
    • Chair, Amicus Committee, 2021-2022
    • IDC Quarterly Editorial Board, (2012 – 2017)
    • Editor-in-Chief, IDC Quarterly, (June 2016 – May 2017)
    • Editor-in-Chief, IDC Survey of Law, (2017 – 2018 and 2019 -2020)
    • Columnist, IDC Quarterly, Professional Liability column (June 2017 – Present).
    • IDC Board of Directors (2017 – June 24, 2022)
    • IDC Secretary/Treasurer, and Executive Committee Member of the Board (June 24, 2022 to Present)
  • Defense Research Institute (DRI) (2013 – 2018, 2022 – Present).
  • Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association (2016 – 2020).
  • The Bar Association of the Central and Southern Federal Districts of Illinois (Member, Communications Committee, 2002-2006);
  • Tuscola Community Foundation (Board Member, 2010 – 2016)

Publications and Presentations

  • John F. Watson, Note, The Cause, Effect and Constitutional Consequence of Unequal Funding: Public Education in Illinois, 26 J. Marshall Law Rev. 399 (1993).
  • J. Watson, Presentation, Illinois Tort Law Update, Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel, Fall Conference (2001).
  • J. Watson, Ch. 10S, Third-Party Practice, Supplement, Civil Practice: Opening the Case, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE) (2006).
  • J. Watson, Ch. 10, Third-Party Practice, Civil Practice: Opening the Case, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE) (2009).
  • J. Watson & J. M. Anderson, “The Medical Peer Review Privilege: Illustrative Cases of the Public Policy Supporting the Privilege and a Practical Approach to Presenting the Case for Protection,” 46 Tort Trial & Ins. Prac. L. J. 95 (2011).
  • J. Watson, “Judicial Selection: A Discussion of Elective and Appointed Systems in Light of Current Developments in the Law,” IDC Quarterly J., Vol. 21, No. 3 (2011).
  • J. Watson, Ch. 10, Third-Party Practice, Civil Practice: Opening the Case, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE) (April 23, 2012).
  • J. Watson, Presentation, “Evidentiary Issues Affecting Peer Review Processes” Illinois Defense Counsel (IDC) Ski & CLE Presentations, Steamboat Springs, Colorado (Feb. 7, 2013).
  • J. Watson, Presentation, “Handling Insurance Coverage Disputes; Conflicts of Interest Created Under the Tripartite Relationship”; Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE) (Sep. 17, 2014).
  • J. O’Driscoll, H. Huntington, D. Fisher & J. Watson, IDC Monograph; “A Primer on Defenses in Section 1983 and Police Liability Civil Actions,”  IDC Quarterly J., Vol 24, No. 4 (2015).
  • J. Watson, Professional Liability Column, “Yannello v. Park Family Dental: the Limits of the Use of Demonstrative Evidence by an Expert in a Professional Negligence Action” IDC Quarterly J., Vol. 27, No. 3 (2017).
  • J. Watson, Professional Liability Column, “RVP, LLC v. Advantage Insurance Services, Inc.: the Nuances of the Discovery Rule in Insurance Broker Malpractice Cases ” IDC Quarterly J., Vol. 27, No. 4 (2017).
  • J. Watson, Professional Liability Column, “Tebbens v. Levin & Conde: Successful Attorneys’ Fee Petition Bars Subsequent Legal Malpractice Action on the Basis of Res Judicata” IDC Quarterly J., Vol. 28, No. 3 (2018).
  • J. Watson, Professional Liability Column, “Ray v. Beussink & Hickam, P.C.: a Potential Causation Defense Raised in an Accounting Malpractice Action Relating to a Miscalculation in Pension Benefits” IDC Quarterly J., Vol. 29, No. 1 (2019).
  • J. Watson & S. Wolke, Ch. 10, Third-Party Practice, Civil Practice: Opening the Case, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE) (Sept. 18, 2019).
  • J. Watson, Professional Liability Column, “The Discovery Rule in Legal Malpractice Cases; Actual Damages, Prophylactic Lawsuits and Plainly Obvious Neglect – Construction Systems, Inc. v. FagelHaber, LLC” IDC Quarterly J., Vol. 29, No. 4 (2019).
  • J. Watson, Professional Liability Column, “Edson v. Fogarty: Cause of Action for Negligent Misrepresentation by Real Estate Broker Dependent on Potential For Discovery by a Reasonably Prudent Purchaser ” IDC Quarterly J., Vol. 30, No. 1 (2020).
  • J. Watson, Professional Liability Column, “Northern District of Illinois Finds that a Factual Omission May Amount to a Fraudulent Concealment in an Attorney-Client Relationship: Brandolino v. Schlak” IDC Quarterly J., Vol. 30, No. 2 (2020)
  • J. Watson & C. Rich, Ch. 4, Insurance Broker Malpractice:  Causes of Action: Insurance Litigation, Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education (IICLE) (May 4, 2021).

Amicus Involvement

  • Harris v. One Hope United, Inc., No. 117200, Supreme Court of Illinois (June 3, 2014), Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel’s Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of the Contemnor-Appellant, Stellato & Schwartz, Ltd., John F. Watson of Craig & Craig, LLC, and Craig Unrath of Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen.
  • McChristian v. Dale Brink, D.P.M., No. 1-15-2674, Appellate Court of Illinois, First Judicial District (April 8, 2016), Brief of Amicus Curiae Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel, John F. Watson, J. Patrick Lee and Garth E. Flygare of Craig & Craig, LLC.