This month’s spotlighted VADA member is Jennifer Parrish of Parrish Snead Franklin Simpson, PLC, in Fredericksburg. Jennifer is a graduate of Mary Washington College and the University of Virginia School of Law. Since passing the bar in 1990, she has focused her practice on civil litigation defense, insurance defense, local government law, school law, and employment law defense. Among her extensive bar and civic involvement, Jennifer served on the VADA’s Board of Directors from 2001-04. She also has served on VADA’s Long-Term Planning Committee and as the VADA representative on the Committee on Women & Minorities in the Legal System. Jennifer further has been a speaker at several VADA seminars on topics pertinent to her areas of expertise.
1. Where were you born?
2. Spouse? Children? Pets?
Married to my high school sweetheart, Frank C. Jordaens. I have a 23-year-old daughter who recently graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design, just in time for the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. What type of law do you practice?
A large majority of my practice is civil litigation, mostly defense, and school law. Through my work with VRSA, I have the opportunity to defend public entities, including school boards, towns, and cities.
4. How long have you been a member of VADA?
I joined VADA in 1990 when I first started practicing law. My former senior partner, Russ Roberts, knew the importance of VADA and encouraged me to join and become active.
5. What have you enjoyed most about your time in VADA?
The VADA has been extremely important to me over the years. It began as a way to get to know other defense lawyers across the state. Over the years, I have worked with and continue to work with colleagues who I have been able to get to know well through VADA. I have also appreciated and gained significant benefits from the legal education through the VADA. This group has not only excellent annual meetings, but seminars on current and relevant practice issues that are useful in my daily practice. Among my favorites are the several mock trials that have been part of our meetings.
6. What do you like most about practicing law?
I love the diversity of subject matter, the constant challenges, and the camaraderie of working with other lawyers to resolve legal disputes.
7. Who is the most famous person you ever met?
While attending a conference in San Diego of the Association of Defense Trial Attorneys, Morgan Freeman joined our group for a tour of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Morgan co-owns a restaurant with one of our ADTA members. When I got the chance to meet him, we each put our arms around each other’s backs to pose for a picture. Of course, being nervous, the person taking the picture accidentally turned the camera off. We then had to wait what seemed like forever to get the camera back on. Morgan let go of me and went to talk to the next person, but I continued to hold on tight to his back until the picture was taken. The police may have been called for false imprisonment.
8. What book is currently on your beside table?
I am a huge fan of legal thrillers. Not many people know this, but some of my best opening statements and closing arguments come from the likes of Mickey Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer, by Michael Connelly), Dismas Hardy (John Lescroart) and Bennie Rosato (Lisa Scottoline). My current book is John Lescroart’s Betrayal.
9. What is at the top of your bucket list?
To continuing traveling around the world. My husband and I made a commitment six years ago that we were not going to wait until we were retired and too old to enjoy the travel, so we take a 12-day annual trip to Europe at the end of each September. We’ve now been to Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Iceland, Luxembourg, England and Scotland. Our trip for this year was to be to Lisbon, Portugal, but COVID-19 may foil our plans.
10. What is your favorite type of music?
Top 40 pop hits. I listen to them to keep up with the cool people. I am constantly singing in the car.
11. What was your favorite subject in school?
Logic and Economics.
12. What was your first job?
Working as a hostess, then a waitress, for Shoney’s Restaurant during high school.
13. When I am not at the office, I like to …
Be at the river. In a boat, in a jet ski, sitting by a bonfire or searching for sharks’ teeth at Sharkstooth Island (Nomini Creek, VA). Any river – Potomac, James and Appomattox are most frequented.
13. If I wasn’t practicing law, I would be …
I constantly think about what jobs I would enjoy that could be interesting, and yet not involve too much stress. So far, it’s a toss-up between being a bartender at a beach resort, or driving a covered golf-cart carrying interesting folks between hotels in Aruba.
14. What was the last live concert you attended?
I went to see a Queen cover band about a week before the quarantine – at the historic Beacon Theater in Hopewell, Virginia.
15. What advice would you give someone who just passed the bar?
If you want to be in private practice, look for a firm that will provide you with good mentorship.
16. What secret talent do you have that no one knows about?
Extremely good short-term memory. But, I mean very short term. I can know all the dates, names, facts, medical treatment, etc. the day of a jury trial, but in 48 hours it’s all gone!
17. What is your favorite travel spot?
River living in Coles Point, Virginia,
where we try to spend many weekends in the summer.
18. What is the one item you cannot live without?
Blistex. Not Chapstick. Blistex. I must have it in every pocket, file, purse, on counsel table at hearings, etc. I am truly addicted. My lips will literally fall off it I do not have Blistex handy at all times.
19. What is your definition of success?
Being happy with life and family, and being respected by you.