John B. Waters III


Contact Information

1111 N. Northshore Drive, Suite S-700
Knoxville, Tennessee 37919

Phone: 865-584-4040 x213
Fax: 865-584-6084

“Closing a deal is an art and a science. There is also some magic when it all comes together.”  


John B. Waters III concentrates his practice in the areas of real estate development, commercial transactions and business issues.

He represents developers in commercial real estate transactions and also represents lenders, buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants. Waters handles projects in all stages of development – from optioning property through financing, zoning, acquisition, leasing and operating to selling projects, including “big box” developments such as Publix, Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Meijer, Walgreens, Best Buy and similar businesses. He has worked on projects throughout the Southeast. Between earning his college and law degrees, Waters worked for a national bank, a valuable experience for his legal career.

Waters has been lead developer counsel for these successful projects:

  • University Commons, Knoxville, TN; Walmart and Publix anchored
  • Northshore Town Center, Knoxville, TN; Target, Publix, mixed use
  • Stone Creek Towne Center, Colerain, OH; Meijer, JCPenney, Best Buy, Toys R Us
  • The Crossings, Niceville, FL; Walmart, Publix, Home Depot
  • Indian Lake Marketplace, Hendersonville, TN; Walmart, Home Depot
  • Daniel Boone Plaza, Hazard, KY; Walmart, Lowe’s
  • Walgreens stores, multiple locations

Waters represents a variety of companies and individuals with regard to business transactions and accordant issues. He worked primarily in the areas of commercial litigation and bankruptcy for the first 15 years of his career and continues to represent clients involved in lawsuits, bankruptcies, workouts and similar adversarial situations.

Since 1999, Waters has been an adjunct professor for the University of Tennessee College of Law. He and law partner Dennis Ragsdale teach the real estate development module of the “Representing Enterprises” course.

Waters is an AV rated attorney by Martindale-Hubbell.  He was selected for inclusion in The Best Layers in America for his skill and experience in Real Estate Law.

He has raced in more than 50 triathlons over the last 20 years and continues to be an avid cyclist. He is a frequent participant in shooting sports, including Precision Rifle, USPSA, IDPA, 3-Gun, Steel Challenge and other disciplines. Waters represents a number of clients involved in the shooting sports and firearms industries.

John Waters grew up in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains and continues to have family and business interests in Sevier County.


B.S., University of Tennessee, 1977
summa cum laude
Real Estate and Urban Development

  • Phi Kappa Phi
  • Beta Gamma Sigma
  • Sigma Chi

Juris Doctor, Georgetown University, 1981

  • National Moot Court Team
  • American Jurisprudence Award and Corpus Juris Secundum Award for significant legal scholarship


Tennessee, 1981

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee

U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit


Tennessee Bar Association

Knoxville Bar Association

Laurel Church of Christ, Elder

Nucleus Knoxville, Associate Member

Testimonials & clients

  • I am the head of a 92-year-old family real estate business. A number of years ago I was asked by a good friend and sometime business partner to use John Waters in a big box lease and development transaction. My friend said that even though John was two states away, he was the best real estate attorney anywhere. After the development was complete, the big box retailer’s attorney told me that John was the best attorney on the other side that he has ever worked with; he informed me that my attorney was able to get more favorable treatment from the retailer, primarily because John knew what to ask, and just as importantly, knew what not to ask. While John’s strength is his experience with national retailers, he is just as good as a “first-time” attorney with new clients. He also has a very good dry sense of humor.

    Patrick Byrne II
    Valparaiso Realty Company
  • I have experience developing commercial real estate all across the country, and I have learned one lesson the hard way: you need a good lawyer to draft and review your documents. I have great confidence that the deal has been correctly stated and any errors or traps for the unwary have been detected if John Waters is involved in the deal. He and the other attorneys at LRW are the best.

    Marc Smith
    Trinity Development Inc.
  • I have been working with the attorneys at LRW for over 25 years. I have worked with David Long and Dennis Ragsdale, and John Waters has been my primary counsel since 1998. Some of my transactions have been large enough to require the participation of nearly all of the LRW attorneys. These people are deal closers. LRW has closed dozens of transactions with me, involving hundreds of millions of dollars. I can rely on John Waters and LRW for technical expertise, business savvy and moral support.  I am a real estate developer, and these guys are the best real estate development attorneys out there.

  • Viking Tactics built its reputation based on military and law enforcement training, and we also run an Internet-based sales operation with suppliers and customers all over the world. John Waters is our general counsel, and he and the other attorneys at LRW quickly and effectively help us resolve any legal issues. This includes license agreements, employee matters, entity formation, document drafting and a myriad of other needs. LRW is always ready, willing and able to help us navigate those treacherous waters.

    Kyle Lamb
    Viking Tactics
  • The three principals of CHM have been working with John Waters and LRW for decades. Our core business is retail development of neighborhood, grocery-anchored and regional shopping centers, primarily in the Southeast. Our firm relies heavily on John’s experience and expertise, and he is considered a crucial member of our development team. John not only negotiates our contracts, leases and loan documents but he also plays an important role in evaluating and titling the real estate. He is responsive, efficient and cost effective. John is able to discern and anticipate problems/pitfalls so they can be dealt with effectively on the front end. We have trusted and relied on John’s talents in some very complex and challenging transactions. His diligence and determined attitude are important attributes that help keep closings on schedule and without surprises.

    CHM Development