Annual Meeting registration opens, VADA/VTLA Golf Tournament, new Women's Section, and more...

VADA Defense Line August 2021

President's Welcome

              This is the time of year that I always feel like I am trapped between summer and autumn.  It is still technically summer, and the recent temperatures in most of Virginia have reminded us of that.  But the rhythms of fall are returning for most of us.  The children are returning to school, college football is around the corner, and my mind is on the VADA Annual Meeting.

              I hope as many of you as possible can join us October 20-22 at the Marriott Resort Virginia Beach Oceanfront.  Amy Gilbody, our Director of Meetings, and Jim Cales, Chair of our Annual Meeting Committee, have worked with our Annual Meeting Committee, and sponsors, and our Section Chairs and Vice-Chairs to put together a great program.

              We look forward to holding this as a fully in-person meeting. Of course, we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation, including issues with the Delta variant.  As always, we will be taking appropriate precautions, and following all recommendations from the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health.

              The Annual Meeting will be the first official meeting for two of our newly formed committees – our Wellness Committee, chaired by Immediate Past President Melissa Katz, and our Women’s Committee, chaired by Rachel Horvath.  Our Wellness Committee will be having a Wellness Challenge leading up to the Annual Meeting, which will be begin September 19.  Our Women’s Section will be having an optional dinner on Thursday night as their kick-off. 

              Also, we will be having a Book Drive for local libraries, as a service project related to our Annual Meeting.  Please be setting aside any children’s books you have to give away and bring them with you to the meeting.

              As much as it has been a pleasure to serve you, I am excited about handing the presidency over to my good friend Jason Moyers at the Annual Meeting.  Jason is a tireless worker for the VADA, and I look forward to seeing how he continues the wonderful work of our organization.

              So sign up for the Annual Meeting, stay safe, and try to stay cool, until we talk again …

Tate C. Love
VADA President, 2020-21

VADA 2021 Annual Meeting


October 20-22
Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront

Registration is now open for our Annual Meeting! We hope you will join us at an exciting new Annual Meeting venue, located just steps from the beach. 

We'll offer an agenda full of cutting edge CLE programming designed to benefit your civil defense practice as you return to the courtroom.  On day one, we'll look at "Post-COVID Jury Trials," "The Use of Technology in the Courtroom," and "Being a Defense Lawyer." On Friday, we'll begin with our popular Breakfast with the Judiciary, followed by sessions on "Mediation and ADR," "Using Social Media in Discovery and at Trial," "Effective Motions Practice and Oral Advocacy," and finish with an ethics hour looking at "Attorney Mental Health." We'll also offer 2 hours of section breakouts in addition to our Awards Luncheon, and popular networking receptions and VADA Late Nights.

This year's meeting also offers many new and updated activities:

  • Wednesday night’s Dine Around Dutch-Treat Dinners with other VADA members at one of the many amazing restaurants at the beach.
  • A new Wellness Challenge running the month leading up to the conference, with daily activities, sponsored by our Wellness Committee.
  • A new Women's Section dinner on Thursday night.
  • Our community service project to collect children's books for Hampton Roads area libraries.
  • Many other opportunities to network, relax, and enjoy the company of your VADA friends and colleagues. 

A block of rooms has been reserved at the VADA-discounted rate of $149 - $169, depending on room type. The room block is scheduled to be released September 20 or when the block is full, whichever is first, so book today using the link found on the meeting webpage.

For complete meeting details, please visit our Annual Meeting webpage.

VADA continues to monitor updated guidance from the CDC, the Governor, and the Virginia Department of Health relative to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Should circumstances require us to modify the schedule or format of our Annual Meeting, we will advise accordingly.  The health and safety of our members, sponsors, and other Annual Meeting attendees is first and foremost.

September 8

Retaining, Developing, and Safely Navigating Expert Witness Testimony

1.0 HR CLE Approved

Matthew E. Kelley
Frith Anderson + Peake

Mr. Kelley will discuss how to locate and prepare experts from the start of your case through a trial.  You will learn about recent changes in the law to consider on expert bias and financial relationships.  Topics covered will include finding the right expert, providing an effective expert disclosure, and methods for attacking the opposing experts while insulating your client from similar challenges.  The battle of experts can win or lose cases and this seminar will provide concrete tips to help your client win the battle.   

The event is fully virtual, via Zoom, and open to current and potential VADA members.

October 5

Utilizing Forensic Engineers: Value Added from Date of Loss through Trial

Matthew Wagenhofer, PhD, PE, CFEI
MW Forensic Engineering

Forensic Engineers provide unbiased investigations into, analyses of, and opinions about engineering issues relevant to a loss.  But did you know that in performing these functions they can add value at all stages of a loss investigation?  Using the scientific method as a framework, loss investigations are discussed in terms of discrete steps and activities corresponding to the method.  Along the way, real-world examples are presented that illustrate how incorporating Forensic Engineers into your team as trusted expert resources can enhance your efforts to advocate on behalf of your clients.

The event is fully virtual, via Zoom, and free to current and potential VADA members.

VADA/VTLA  Frank N. Cowan Civility Golf Tournament

There is still time to sign up to play in our Annual VADA/VTLA  Frank N. Cowan Civility Golf Tournament. The tournament will be Wednesday September 15, 2021 at Independence Golf Course, starting at noon.

If you would like to play, please rsvp to John Owen ( and cc Sherma Mather (

Calling all women! 

Are you looking for a place to talk openly about practicing in a (still) male-dominated field (no offense to the men reading this!)?  Do you want to meet other women who have similar practices and face similar issues?  We invite you to join the newly formed women’s section for our kickoff event at the Annual Meeting.  On Thursday, October 21, we will be hosting a women’s section dinner at Mannino’s.  For $75, you’ll get three courses and two drinks, plus an evening of lively discussion, including discussion about the recent controversial article published by the ABA, Are Women Lawyers Paying Enough Attention to Upward Mobility?  Due to the restaurant’s capacity, this event will be capped at 50 attendees and you must register for this event by October 4. The restaurant is about .5 miles from the hotel.  If you want to walk to the restaurant, please meet in the hotel lobby at 7:10.

In the future, we plan to host happy hours, dinners, and other events, and provide forums for open discussion.  Do you have ideas for this section or want to host an event?  We would love your input and feedback!  Please contact Rachel Horvath ( and Jodi Simopoulos ( with questions and ideas.  We hope to see you at the dinner and future women’s section events. 

VADA Children's Book Drive

ATTENTION VADA members and friends! In conjunction with our 2021 Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach this October, VADA is sponsoring a children’s book drive! Please join us as we collect new or gently used children’s books, infant through young adult.  All books collected benefit the public libraries in Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Chesapeake, and Suffolk.  As an added incentive, we are offering special recognition to the INDIVIDUAL who donates the most titles, as well as to the FIRM who donates the most books.  We will present these recognitions when the directors of the seven area libraries join us at the Marriott Resort Virginia Beach Oceanfront on Friday, October 22.  For complete details on our book drive, and to learn how you can contribute, visit here.

Attend DRI's 2021 Annual Meeting, October 13-16, which will take place live in Boston, Massachusetts!  Reconnect with old friends and make new ones.  See blockbuster speakers like retired United States Navy Seal Kristin Beck; author, Arizona State University professor, and Futurist Brian David Johnson; and author and Research Manager of the Stanford Internet Observatory Renée DiResta.  Attend stellar education sessions, addressing topics like diversity, anti-racism, and more!  For details, and to register, click here.

Southwest Region Networking Reception
October 6
5:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Join us for an evening of networking and fun with fellow VADA members.  Drinks, snacks and exciting raffle prizes provided by our sponsor, Planet DeposRegistration is free, but RSVPs are requested here 

This Bedford, Virginia, native, and insurance coverage guru is a proud husband and father of two boys.  When he’s not in the office, you likely can find him on a beach in North Carolina or enjoying the High Life while relaxing with his family.  For more on this month’s VADA Spotlighted Member, click here.

VADA congratulates our 2017-18 Past-President D. Cameron Beck, Jr., winner of the 2021 Fred H. Sievert Award! Presented by DRI, this award honors an individual who, as president of a state or local defense organization, has made a significant contribution toward achieving the goals and objectives of the organized defense bar. DRI will present this award to Cam on Friday, October 15, during the DRI Annual Meeting in Boston. Congratulations, Cam, on this distinct and well-deserved honor!

Be sure to bookmark VADA Upcoming Events so you don't miss out.

September 8
Retaining, Developing, and Safely Navigating Expert Witness Testimony

September 15
VADA/VTLA  Frank N. Cowan Civility Golf Tournament
Independence Golf Course

October 5
Utilizing Forensic Engineers:
Value Added from Date of Loss through Trial


October 6
Southwest Regional Happy Hour

October 20-22
Annual Meeting
Marriott Va. Beach Oceanfront

We don’t want to lose you! If you are unsure of your membership status, please reach out to Executive Director Sherma Mather at or Membership Chair Sam Bernier at for more information.

Jordan Carrier
Poole Brooke Plumlee

David Childs
Britt Byrne Warren

Drake Hudgins
Hudgins Law Firm

Julie Seyfarth
Chesterfield County Attorney’s Office

VADA Wellness Committee


By:  Melissa H. Katz

Are you interested in fitness?  Accountability? Collegiality?  Fun and Friendly Competition?  Then dust off your athletic shoes and join VADA’s Second Annual Fitness Challenge.  Starting September 19 and ending at the kick-off of our Annual Meeting starting on October 20, VADA offers all of its members an opportunity to focus on wellness.  In addition to encouraging all members to walk at least 7500 daily steps, there is a daily challenge aimed at improving mindset, nutrition, sleep and general well-being.   The challenge is designed to bring awareness to the importance of self-care.   Track your steps and the completion of the daily challenges on the app “MoveSpring”.  There you will be able to see how you are doing in comparison to your colleagues.  Shouts of support and encouragement are always welcomed! If you need additional incentive to participate – then yes, you can do it for the fame, the glory, and the prizes!  

The daily steps can be walked.  The benefits of walking are truly amazing.  Walking is the most studied type of exercise.  It has one of the lowest injury rates of any form of exercise and studies show that it can improve overall health and increase both longevity and functional years.  (See Sally Wadyka, “How to Get the Biggest Benefits of Walking”, Consumer Reports, May 2, 2021).   The benefits of walking include, but are not limited to:  (1) lower body mass index; (2) lower blood pressure and cholesterol; (3) lower fasting blood sugar; (4) better memory and cognitive function; (5) lower stress and improved mood; and (6) longer life.  Id.  Studies also show that it is never too late to “reap the benefits of walking.” Id.

The minimum recommendation for good health is 30 minutes of “moderate-intensity walking, five days per week.” Id.   While experts agree that any amount of walking is good for you, to maximize the benefits of walking, consistency, intensity and distance should be pursued.  “More is better, but you can get a significant portion of the health benefits of walking even with just that moderate amount” says Robert Sallis, M.D., a family physician and sports medicine doctor with Kaiser Permanente. Id.  

How can you increase your opportunity to get more daily steps?  Easy.  Walk every chance you get.  Take the stairs.  Park your car farther away from your destination.  Carve out a time on your daily calendar to walk.  Invite family, friends, colleagues or listen to your favorite playlist or podcast.  Interestingly, while most people aim for a daily goal of 10,000 steps (about 5 miles) that number did not originate from scientific studies.  Id.   “It was first used in a Japanese marketing effort associated with one of the first commercial pedometers.”  The device was called ‘manpo-kei” which translates in Japanese to “10,000 steps meter”.   However, while 10,000 steps is a realistic minimum goal for “complete risk reduction, people should aim for more” according to William Tigbe, MD, PhD. Id.   Dr. Tigbe is a physician and public health researcher at University of Warwick (England) and lead author of the study showing that 15,000 steps per day is optimal.  “In our study, those who took 5,000 extra steps had no metabolic syndrome risk factors at all.”  Id.   

So, why doesn’t our VADA Fitness Challenge advocate a minimum of 15,000 steps a day?  As attorneys, it may be easy to justify the avoidance of exercising.  Too much work, not enough time, etc.  However, the failure to do what we should be doing today will eventually catch up with us. The purpose of this challenge is to encourage our members to start moving and get in the habit of daily exercise.  If you are already in the habit, then there is no reason why you have to stop at 7,500 daily steps.  The daily cap for this challenge is 20,000.   No excuses.  Join the challenge.  Let’s have fun and get healthy together!  Make tomorrow today.

Information on how to join the Fitness Challenge will be sent to to all VADA members next month.

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    VADA’S Mission

    The mission of the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys is to assist Virginia attorneys in the professional and ethical representation of their clients in civil litigation through education, communication and fellowship.

    Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys
    1915 Huguenot Road, Ste. 301
    Richmond, VA  23235
    804-649-1002 |

    Executive Director: Sherma Mather
    Director of Meetings: Amy Gilbody
    Journal of Civil Litigation Managing EditorMolly Terry

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