Young Lawyers Social Hour, Lunch & Learns, Deposition Workshop, a New Journal, and more...

VADA Defense Line February 2021

President's Welcome

I hope this message finds my extended VADA family staying happy and healthy. I find this February to be a time of anticipation and expectation of brighter days that are not yet here, but which seem to be getting closer. As I look out my office window, I still see the snow and ice, but I feel the warmth and rebirth of Spring on the horizon. Our lives continue to be impacted by adjustments caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  But as our most at-risk friends and family start to get their vaccines, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And at the VADA, we continue to alter plans due to the pandemic, while looking forward to a time that we can be in person more again.

We have been monitoring the General Assembly session and paying attention to bills of interest to our members. The VADA has provided information to its membership – much of it via our “Members-Only” Facebook and LinkedIn accounts – regarding bills of interest. On certain bills, where we have identified clear “level playing field” issues – such as proposed drastic reforms to qualified immunity or changes regarding general district court appeals – we have gotten more actively involved.  Please see the update below from Alex DeWitt, our Legislative Committee Chair.

Below you fill also find more information about our relatively new “Lunch & Learn” programs, and many of the virtual happy hours we have planned.These are some of the ways we have tried to stay connected during this time. A great example of this was our recent Virtual Scavenger Hunt, hosted by our President-Elect Jason Moyers.   A good time was had by all, especially by the night’s big winner, Ally Sipes.

The next big event on our horizon is our Deposition Workshop. We were looking forward to having Liberty University’s School of Law as a first-time host of this event. However, we felt it best to switch this to a fully virtual event this year. There will be a day full of CLEs on Friday March 12, followed by a morning of mock virtual depositions on Saturday March 13. We thank Liberty for remaining a sponsor of this event, and we look forward to being able to visit Lynchburg for a future event.  We also thank Planet Depos for sponsoring this event. Please encourage your associates to sign up now.

Future events are still being evaluated to see if they will be in-person or virtual. Certainly, we are hoping that by the time of the Annual Meeting this October we will be able to meet together in person in the brand new Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

Until I see you again, on a computer screen or in person, take care.

Tate C. Love
VADA President, 2020-21

Registration is limited and only a few slots remain, so register today

Our Deposition Workshop is a two-day workshop to learn the skills needed to: (1) face down a bullying senior plaintiffs’ attorney; (2) handle a lying deponent; (3) pull the information you need out of a reticent deponent; (4) ensure that what you discover in depositions is admissible in court; (5) use the latest in technology to build an air-tight case; (6) depose experts effectively; (7) handle sympathetic or minor deponents; and more!

The second day will be spent in breakouts in which each new attorney will play the parts of deponent, defense attorney, plaintiffs’ attorney, and observer. At each stage of the depositions, senior coach-attorneys will critique performances and suggest approaches to use.

The program will be offered via webcast with participants, coaches and speakers joining remotely.  

Client Development and Client Maintenance:
Thriving in the New Normal

February 24 at Noon

The skill (and need) of attracting and keeping clients hasn’t stopped with a pandemic. In this fast-paced one-hour webinar, ADTA member Mike H. Bassett hosts a panel discussion with some of the legal industry’s best and brightest members.  From harnessing social media to maintaining constant client “touch points” to helping you craft a brand and on-line presence, this webinar will have something for everyone.

Whether your law degree is freshly minted or whether you remember what it was like to practice law before e-mail (yikes!), this webinar will give you tools for your tool box that you can start using immediately.

The event is fully virtual, via Zoom, and free to VADA members --REGISTER HERE.

A joint webinar hosted by Kentucky Defense Counsel, North Carolina Association of Defense Attorneys, South Carolina Defense Trial Attorneys Association, Tennessee Defense Lawyers Association, Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys, and Defense Trial Counsel of West Virginia.

Young Lawyers
Join us for a fun night of learning and networking

Young Lawyers Virtual Social Hour
March 16 at 7:00 PM
via Zoom

We'll begin with a brief presentation by John Peterson of Harman Claytor Corrigan & Wellman, who will offer tips and tricks to consider for managing your workload: time management, templates, capturing tasks, and capturing time will be covered. 

Next, we will have some St. Patrick's Day networking and fun. Complimentary $10 Door Dash e-gift card for the first 15 registrants, courtesy of our sponsor, Planet Depos. Door Dash now delivers adult beverages in some locations, if you want to grab something to ring in St. Patrick's Day with your fellow young lawyers. Dress in your favorite St. Patrick's Day garb for prizes.  

This event will be on Zoom and is free to all current VADA Young Lawyers!  Register here.


How to be a Valuable Asset to Your Firm
Melissa H. Katz
Bancroft, McGavin, Horvath & Judkins, P.C.

Raise your game!  Learn from VADA Immediate Past President Melissa Katz how to optimize your performance as an attorney, maximize job satisfaction, develop relationships that are more successful with clients, colleagues, judges, and adversaries, and set long-term goals to enrich your own practice. 

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


Through the Eyes of the Insured
Jason G. Moyers
Frankl Miller Webb & Moyers

A mainstay of an insurance defense practice is the tripartite relationship between attorney, insurer, and insured.  While defense counsel goes to great lengths to zealously represent his or her client—the insured—and to comply with billing and other insurance company guidelines, all too often, the insureds themselves can get lost in the shuffle.  More often than not, a particular lawsuit is an insured’s first and only experience with the judicial system.  Things such as pleadings, written discovery, depositions, and trial, while common to us, are, to them, foreign.  In addition, the stress and uncertainty associated with being sued can often be overlooked.  Join VADA President-Elect, Jason Moyers, who will present the course of a civil lawsuit through the eyes of the insureds themselves.  We hope to provide those in attendance with a better understanding and appreciation of what a lawsuit is like for an insured.  At the end of the day, we hope, too, those in attendance will be better equipped to address the concerns, fears, anxieties, and questions their clients have through the course of the representation.

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


Balancing the Billable and the Non-Billable
Tate C. Love

There are a number of activities – bar associations, non-profit boards, firm governance – that are both worthwhile, and can add to your marketability and profitability.  Join VADA President Tate Love, who will discuss how you balance your participation in these laudable pursuits, while still meeting your billable goals.

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

The Learning Continues

Voir Dire
Carlyle R. “Randy” Wimbish, III
Wimbish Gentile McCray & Roeber PLLC

Voir dire is more than just the mechanism by which a jury is selected.  It is an opportunity to introduce yourself, your client, and your theory of the case to the people who will decide the outcome, while at the same time identifying those individuals who should be excluded from future deliberations.  At our February Lunch & Learn, Randy Wimbish shared tips and tactics that will help you make the most of this frequently overlooked component of trial preparation.Thank you, Randy, for presenting! Thank you, too, to all for attending!

If you missed Randy's Lunch & Learn, you can see the written materials from the session here. You can watch a recording of his presentation here. While the orginal live webcast qualified for CLE credit, this on-demand version does not, but you'll find the information is still valuable.

If you missed Randy's Lunch & Learn, you can see his written materials here. You can watch a recording of his presentation here.  

The General Assembly adjourned the 2021 Regular Session Sine Die on February 8th and entered the 2021 Special Session I on February 10th. In advance of adjourning Sine Die, committees in both chambers met and moved all bills that crossed over during the Regular Session to the Special Session. VADA continues to actively monitor 22 Bills. Prior to the adjournment of the Regular Session, VADA advocated successfully against the passage of HB 2045 and SB 1140, the Qualified Immunity Bills. VADA continues to advocate in Special Session I against the passage of SB 1108.

Award for Excellence
in Civil Litigation

VADA/VTLA Civility and
Professionalism Award

The VADA is currently soliciting nominations for our two annual awards: the Award for Excellence in Civil Litigation and the VADA/VTLA Civility and Professionalism Award.

The Award for Excellence in Civil Litigation honors a distinguished jurist, civil litigator, or other appropriate person who exhibits the following:

1. The highest standards of ethics, demeanor and temperament;
2. Exemplary conduct inside and outside the courtroom;
3. Courtesy and fairness in dealing with others;
4. Work of the highest quality; and
5. Such other criteria as the Board may determine are appropriate, such as community involvement; judicial, bar-related and educational activities; and participation in activities that improve the civil justice system.

The VADA/VTLA Civility and Professionalism Award is presented each year to a plaintiff’s attorney. Both the VADA and VTLA organizations recognize that our members have an obligation to be professional with clients, other parties and counsel, the courts and the public. This obligation includes civility, professional integrity, personal dignity, candor, diligence, respect, courtesy, and cooperation. Some go above and beyond obligation, and their conduct sets the standard.

For information about how to nominate for either award, please get in touch with VADA Executive Director Sherma Mather at The nominations deadline is April 2, 2021.

Membership renewal is underway for 2021! If you have questions about your membership status, please reach out to VADA Executive Director Sherma Mather at or Membership Chair Sam Bernier at for more information.

Alexandra Hamm
Byrne Legal Group

Yiorgos Koliopoulos
Williams Mullen 

Danny Howell
Law Office of Danny Howell

Jennifer Rowlett
Law Office of Danny Howell

Emily Stubblefield
Guynn, Waddell, Carroll & Lockaby

The Journal of Civil Litigation

Winter 2020-21

The Winter 2020 edition of the Journal of Civil Litigation is out.  In it you can enjoy feature articles by Joseph Pope on the party presentation principle, Brian Schneider on the intersection of the single-disease rule and maritime law, and Marilyn Harvey and Benjamin Ellis on COVID-19 worker’s compensation claims.  In addition, this edition includes the usual collection of recent judicial opinions.  As always, thanks to Kent Sinclair, Editor-in-Chief; Molly Terry, Managing Editor; John Eure, Chair of the Board of Editors; and the entire the Board of Editors.  We know that mail delivery can be slow during these times, so please remember the Journal is always available on the Members-Only section of our webpage.


Depositions: Can You Actually Change
Form or Substance?

Melissa H. Katz

At the conclusion of a deponent’s deposition, have you ever heard an attorney stating, with authority,  that while the deponent can read her deposition, she can’t change her testimony?  Is that true?  Nope.   The myth of only being permitted to change typos and spelling errors perpetuates when attorneys don’t take the time to READ THE RULES. 

Virginia Supreme Court Rule 4:5 is  the rule regarding “Depositions Upon Oral Examination” and is chock-full of things you need to know.  With regard to busting this specific myth, Rule 4:5 (e) states as follows:

              “When the testimony is fully transcribed, the deposition shall be submitted to the witness for examination and shall be read to or by him, unless such examination and reading are waived by the witness and by the parties. Any changes in form or substance which the witness desires to make shall be entered upon the deposition by the officer with a statement of the reasons given by the witness for making them.  The deposition shall then be signed by the witness, unless the parties by stipulation waive the signing or the witness is ill or cannot be found or refuses to sign.  If the deposition is not signed by the witness within 21 days of its submission to him, the officer shall sign it and state on the record the fact of the waiver or of the illness or absence of the witness or the fact of the refusal to sign together with the reason, if any, given therefor; and the deposition may then be used as fully as though signed unless on a motion to suppress under Rule 4:7(d)(4) the court holds that the reasons given for the refusal to sign require rejection of the deposition in whole or part.”

The takeaways:  Read the rules and yes, changes can be made to form or substance; waiver is not unilateral, you can force a witness to read the deposition and if they don’t then the deposition can be used as fully as though signed;  and if the deponent chooses to read, then the errata sheet needs to be returned to the court reporter within 21 days. 

For more information about depositions and an actual “HANDS-ON” experience, sign up for the upcoming Deposition Workshop on March 12-13.


    DRI has adapted to the pandemic environment with a series of virtual CLE programs and seminars targeted to the defense practitioner. The good news is that DRI has tentatively scheduled live programming to begin in June 2021. A list of the scheduled virtual and live DRI seminars can be found here.

    This Washington, DC, native and VADA Past President loves the practice of law, spending time with his family, and trips to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  His newest love?  His 9-month old granddaughter, Willa!  To learn more about this month’s VADA Spotlighted Member, click here.

    Spread the word! VADA is now on Instagram! Follow us today and stay connected at vadadefense!

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

    March 12-13
    Deposition Workshop

    March 16
    Young Lawyers Social Hour

    March 17
    How to be a Valuable Asset to Your Firm Lunch & Learn

    April 14
    Through the Eyes of the Insured Lunch & Learn

    May 5-7
    Spring Sections Seminar 
    Boar's Head Inn, Charlottesville

    June 23
    Balancing the Billable & the Non-Billable Lunch & Learn

    Summer (Date TBD)
    Paralegal Seminar

    October 20-22
    Annual Meeting
    Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront

    Join our social media sites where we post current court updates, relevant legal developments, and much, much more!  

      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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