Group photo of attorneys from law firm Blish & Cavanagh, LLP
Attorney Joseph V. Cavanagh Jr.

Joseph V. Cavanagh

  • Managing Partner
  • Co-founder



AV Preeminent | Martindale-Hubbell | Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence | 2020

Practice Areas

  • Civil Litigation
  • Antitrust
  • Libel
  • Products Liability
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Employment
  • RICO
  • Personal Injury
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Patent Law


Joseph V. Cavanagh, Jr. is the managing partner of Blish & Cavanagh, the head of its civil litigation/trial practice area, and the firm's senior trial lawyer. A former partner at Edwards & Angell in Providence, R.I., he was a co-founder of Blish & Cavanagh in 1986. His entire legal career has concentrated on the practice of civil litigation. An accomplished trial lawyer, he has litigated cases in many different areas, including antitrust, libel, products liability, sexual harassment and employment, RICO, personal injury, medical malpractice, and patent law. During his career, he has briefed and argued many appeals before the Rhode Island Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Clients in his media law practice include both newspapers and broadcast media. In addition to advising media clients on avoidance of litigation, his media law work has involved litigation of libel and slander actions, obtaining media access to various judicial proceedings and court documents, and prior restraint litigation. He has also represented clients, including media clients, who are seeking public access to local, state, and federal government documents and information under Freedom of Information laws or public access to the deliberations of various governmental bodies under state open meetings laws.

Mr. Cavanagh has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in employment litigation, including employment discrimination and employment contract litigation. He has also represented both plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury and product liability matters. He has litigated a variety of other matters on behalf of individuals, small corporations and partnerships, regional banks, and national corporations, including complex partnership disputes between major real estate developers, RICO claims, financing guaranties, contract disputes, and other commercial litigation. He has also been involved in anti-trust litigation, including litigation relating to the media and to distributors of or dealers in commercial products. His clients have also included local and state government entities.

He has been recognized as an outstanding litigator by Chambers USA every year from 2005 to date. He has also been named a Rhode Island and New England Super Lawyer in each year from 2007 to date and has been a top vote getter among Rhode Island lawyers every year. For many years he has also been recognized through a listing in the peer-reviewed The Best Lawyers in America©, which is the oldest lawyer rating publication in the United States, for his work in Antitrust Law, Bet-the Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Banking and Finance Litigation, First Amendment Litigation, Intellectual Property Litigation, Labor and Employment Litigation, Media Law, Medical Malpractice (Plaintiffs), Personal Injury Litigation (Defendants) and Personal Injury Litigation (Plaintiffs).

He has been a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers since 1990 and has served as Chairman of the Rhode Island chapter. He served on the Rhode Island Board of Bar Examiners for nine years. He is a member of the Rhode Island Bar Association and has served on its Superior Court Bench/Bar Committee for many years. A frequent lecturer and speaker, he has participated in numerous seminars and public panels on civil trial practice and First Amendment law.

Mr. Cavanagh is a founding director of ACCESS/R.I., a non-profit organization which seeks to improve public access to governmental information. He is also a founding director of the New England First Amendment Coalition (NEFAC). He serves as a director and vice president of the St. Thomas More Law Society. In the past he also served as an officer and director of the Rhode Island Special Olympics.

A former college hockey player, he was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1994.

Mr. Cavanagh is a graduate of Harvard College and received his J.D. degree from Boston College Law School.


  • Boston College Law School, Boston, Massachusetts
    • J.D.
  • Harvard College

Bar Admissions

  • Rhode Island, 1974
  • Massachusetts
  • U.S. District Court District of Rhode Island, 1975
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 1st Circuit, 1975
  • U.S. Supreme Court

Professional Associations

  • St. Thomas More Law Society, Director and Vice President
  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow, Since 1990
  • Rhode Island chapter, Chairman
  • Rhode Island Board of Bar Examiners
  • Rhode Island Bar Association, Member
  • Rhode Island Bar Association, Superior Court Bench/Bar Committee


  • Inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame, 1994
  • Rhode Island and New England Super Lawyer, Since 2007
  • The Best Lawyers in America
  • Outstanding litigator by Chambers USA, Since 2005

Past Positions

  • Edwards & Angell, Providence, Partner

Pro-Bono Activities

  • Founding Director of ACCESS/R.I.
  • Founding Director of the New England First Amendment Coalition (NEFAC)
  • Officer and Director of the Rhode Island Special Olympics