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VADA Member Spotlight

Jon Nichols
Harman Claytor Corrigan & Wellman

This month’s spotlighted VADA member is Jon Nichols of Harman Claytor Corrigan & Wellman in Alexandria and Richmond.  Jon is a graduate of Canisius College and the State University of New York.

1.         Where were you born?

Buffalo, New York.  Many people like to joke about my hometown (lots of snow, 4-straight Super Bowl losses), but if you are from there or have ever lived there, you know what a special place it is.  And Go Bills!

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

My wife, Melissa, and I met in college, but did not date until years later.  I think she needed to make sure I was going to make something of my life before she’d consider dating me! We moved to Virginia in 2002 because she grew up south of Richmond. We’ve been married for almost 22 years and have two children, Caroline (20) and Blaine (17).  Caroline is autistic and has the purest heart you can imagine. She recently got an internship at a local hospital.  Blaine plays hockey for the Washington Little Caps, baseball for his high school, and is an outstanding student.  I am so proud of my family and they are the reason I work as hard as I do.

3.         What type of law do you practice?

General Liability Civil Litigation.

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

I have been a defense attorney since I started practicing in 2002, and I’ve been a member pretty much from the start.  It is an organization that my firm believes in strongly.

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

I have always enjoyed the annual conferences.  It is nice to get to know people on a personal level, outside of the courtroom or depositions.  I don’t really like to “talk shop” with lawyers, but I do want to know about you as a person. 

6.         What do you like most about practicing law?

I used to enjoy trial work more than anything else.  There is nothing like the adrenaline rush that comes when the courtroom deputy tells you that the jury is back.  But now I take more pride in helping our associates and young partners experience those things for themselves. I was fortunate to have mentors like Stan Wellman and David Corrigan show me that helping others succeed can be just as fulfilling as personal success.

7.         What was your undergraduate major?

I had a dual major of Political Science and Urban Studies & Planning, with a minor in European Studies.  The minor happened without me realizing it due to a lot of Political Science course crossover.  I found out at graduation!

8.         What book is currently on your beside table?

I don’t have a lot of time for reading but am a huge fan of audio books.  The last two that I “read” were David McCullough’s biography of the Wright Brothers and Alex Kershaw’s World War II book called Against All Odds. But I tell my recently retired partner Jeff Barnes that my favorite is his book, Mingo (or at least it will be once it is available as an audio book!).

9.         What is your favorite food and drink?

I am not sucking up to her when I say that my wife is the best cook that I know.  It would be impossible to pick just one: Tenderloin with Roquefort, Lemon Scallops; Red Wine Risotto, Cajun Chicken Pasta, Sauerbraten… there are so many great ones.  Give me any one of those with a nice bottle of wine and I’m set!

10.       What is the one app on your phone you cannot live without?

I spend a lot of time in the car, so it’s undoubtedly the Podcast app.  I listen to so many (History Daily, Bourbon Pursuit, Travel with Rick Steves, Useless Information, Plain English, Warriors in their Own Words, Old Time Radio, Tony Kornheiser, and many more).  I don’t even necessarily care about the subject—I am just a sucker for a good story from a good storyteller!

11.       What is your favorite travel spot?

I have been going to Hilton Head almost every year since my fourth birthday (a very long drive from Buffalo with my two sisters in the back of a Ford Taurus), and it has become our family’s favorite vacation spot.  I can’t think of any place I enjoy more.

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

For years, my wife and I have been talking about visiting the Amalfi Coast in Italy.  I hope we can make it happen someday, but for the time being, most of our weekends (and money) are spent traveling for hockey.

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

that it is always neat and organized, perhaps obsessively so.  I have difficulty working in any kind of clutter.

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

watch my son do what he loves on the ice, work on the house, or sit by a fire with my wife.

15.       What movie or TV show can you watch, no matter how many times you’ve seen it?

I am a repeat watcher of many shows.  I like to have them on as background noise while I do other things.  I don’t have to pay close attention because I already know what is happening.  The shows I have seen the most are probably Mad Men, Ted Lasso, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine--all brilliant for their own reasons.

16.       What is your idea of the perfect weekend?

I am pretty low maintenance-- having a nice dinner and then hanging out with my wife and some of our friends by a fire would be close to a perfect night for me. But I guess the “perfect weekend” would involve me watching the Mega Millions drawing and seeing my numbers called!

17.       What was the make and model of your first car?

A 1986 Plymouth Reliant K-Car that was a hand-me-down from my grandmother (after a one-year stint with my older sister).  My grandmother was hearing impaired, so it didn’t even have a radio!  It had a cloth bench seat in the front.  It was cream color but, by the time I drove it in 1995, the sun had bleached it a light canary yellow.  It was possibly the ugliest, most underpowered, and worst car ever and I absolutely loved it.

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

a residential contractor.  I do a lot of carpentry and home repair, and I find that very rewarding. Creating something with my hands scratches an itch that the practice of law can’t.  Fortunately, I don’t have to choose and can do both!

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

My wife was a NCAA Division I college swimmer and I was a D1 college golfer, but nobody would ever know because neither of us do these activities anymore (even though they once consumed our lives).  I play golf maybe three to four times a year if I am lucky, and I don’t think she has swum a full-speed lap in 20 years.  It is not by chance that the timeline coincides with the birth of our first child!  

20.       What advice would you give to someone who just passed the bar?

Opposing counsel in the case you are handling is not your enemy.  In fact, he/she is probably a very nice person if you just get to know them on a personal level.  You have so much more in common than you think!  And we’re all just trying to do our job well and get home to our family, friends, and other interests.  So, yes, do your job zealously for your client and be passionate about it, but always keep your perspective.  Never lose your sense of fairness and always treat others the way you want to be treated.  It will keep your blood pressure down and your mood up! 

Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys

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N. Chesterfield, VA 23236


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Director of Meetings: Amy Gilbody

Journal of Civil Litigation Managing Editor: Molly Terry

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