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VADA Member Spotlight

Laura Lee Miller
Mitchell & Simopoulos

This month’s spotlighted VADA member is Laura Lee Miller of Mitchell & Simopoulos, PLLC, in Richmond.  Laura Lee is the current Vice-Chair of VADA’s Medical Malpractice Section.  Admitted to practice in both Virginia and Washington D.C., she is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Virginia School of Law.

1.         Where were you born?

I was born in Charleston, South Carolina, though we moved to Phoenix, Arizona, when I was three. From there we went to Memphis, then to the Richmond area. 

2.         Tell us a little about yourself.  Spouse? Children? Pets?

I am married to my high-school sweetheart, Robert Miller.  We have three kids, who were all born on the same day (our twins Elodie and Alden are 4, and youngest child Henry is 2).  Our lab Zelda and our standard poodle Ganon round out the circus that is our household. 

3.         What type of law do you practice?

Medical malpractice defense litigation.

4.         How long have you been a member of VADA?

Since 2017.  After law school, I started practicing with a large firm in Washington, D.C., so I did not join VADA until we moved back to Richmond after a couple of years in D.C.

5.         What have you enjoyed most about your time in VADA?

It’s always helpful to have an easy connection to people in your field and to be able to hear from others how they have handled similar issues in their own cases in the past.  I won’t lie, it’s also nice to get a couple of nights a year to spend in a quiet, toddler-free hotel room, which is why you’ll never see me at VADA Late Night.

6.         What do you like most about practicing law?

I think at the end of the day what we do is try to put together a puzzle – and I really love puzzles.  How did this patient get from Point A to Point B?  What was our client’s role with the patient’s course?  How did the patient’s medical history play into this?  What other pieces are missing that we don’t know about yet?  What experts are going to help us assemble all these pieces?  Hopefully, the jury is going to believe our side if we show them that the puzzle pieces fit together and make a picture that makes sense. Or, they’re going to scratch their heads if they can see that you tried to hide some pieces that didn’t fit quite right or if you had to use a hammer to make other pieces fit. 

7.         What was your favorite subject in school?

Sciences.  Genetics in particular – there’s so much we don’t know and it seems like every month there is something new and interesting to read about.

8.         What is your favorite food and drink?

I think it’s hard to beat a really good cheeseburger.  I don’t drink alcohol, but my vice of choice is Diet Dr Pepper.

9.         What is the best book you have ever read?

            It’s hard to narrow down.  The Hobbit is the first thing to come to my mind and I’m having a hard time talking myself out of it. 

10.       What is the one item you cannot live without?

I feel like the only honest answer in this day and age is my phone.  Does everyone say phone? 

For a non-phone answer, my Felco 2 pruners.  I’m an avid gardener and they’re the best pruners out there.  You can totally disassemble them for cleaning, and Felco sells all the little component parts so that you can replace pieces as they wear out.

11.       What is your favorite travel spot?

I’m partial to Charleston, SC, but my husband and I took a trip to San Juan a few months ago and we really want to go back with the kids.

12.       What is at the top of your bucket list?

Buying a piece of property with a body of water on it somewhere in the triangle between Richmond, Charlottesville, and Blacksburg.  My husband and I are college football people, and I went to UVA while he went to VT.  So this would give us an easier starting point for going to games.  And it has to be a good-sized piece of land because the true bucket list dream would be to create a multi-acre garden complete with a large English greenhouse and lots of little outdoor “rooms” with different themes and formality levels, walking paths, etc. 

13.       If you were to walk into my office, one of the first things you would notice would be …

I primarily use my office as a place to display photos of my kids.  It’s a bit much, honestly. 

14.       What is the best live concert you have ever attended?

I’m going to answer on behalf of myself from the future – I am going to see the Eras Tour this October and I’m confident that it will top the list.

15.       What is your favorite movie, TV show, or podcast?

Movie: Star Wars Ep. V

TV Show: Scrubs

Podcast: Shutdown Fullcast (an irreverent college football podcast)

16.       What is your favorite sports team?

Go Hoos.

17.       When I am not in the office, I like to …

Obviously I love spending time with my family.  With three young kids and a husband who is also an attorney, free time for my own hobbies can be tricky to find.  Sometimes it feels like my main hobby is fetching snacks for others or reading yet another Gerald and Piggie book.  But, I make it a priority to workout daily (I have a 206 week streak on the Peloton app, and I’ve gotten into Pilates in the last six months or so due to a forced break from running).  Usually whenever I have actual free time, I’m out in my garden.  When it’s the dead of winter and the garden isn’t really an option, I like to bake.  I have a Google Doc where I’ve compiled, trialed, and ranked as many chocolate chip cookie recipes as I could find, which more or less tells you everything there is to know about me.

18.       If I wasn’t practicing law, I would be …

I probably would have done something science-related if I didn’t go to law school.  If I had to start over now…I do garden designs for friends/neighbors so I’d probably turn that into a full-fledged business.

19.       What is something even your friends probably don’t know about you?

I keep a list of mantras/sayings on my phone to refer myself to as needed.  I started it when the twins were newborns and I needed a way to give myself some 2am encouragement in the face of two colicky preemies screaming at me.  The first one, for instance, is “It’s ok not to be ok.”  But I kept adding to it and now you can see the progression of where I was in my life as the tone changes from phrase to phrase (the most recent one is “Opportunities come to pass, not to pause”).  But at this point, pretty much anytime I need a pep talk, something to get me through a tough moment, or just grounding, there’s usually something on that list that fits the moment.

20.       What is your definition of success?

I don’t think of “success” as a final pinnacle overarching an entire career or life.  I think of success more as little wins, which hopefully get stacked together with other little wins into something consistent and hopefully override some of the inevitable losses along the way.  Winning a big trial might be one mark of a successful attorney, but I think most litigators agree that before they got to that success, there were a thousand little wins like “took my first fact witness deposition,” “took my 300th fact witness deposition and now I know my style and goals and strategies for it,” “kept the kids alive and fed even when there were a million things going on at work” and so on.  I think it is more motivating to find the little wins in each day or each week rather than to try to figure out if I am “successful” overall.

Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys

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