Book Your Spring Meeting Hotel Now, Regional Receptions,  Legislative Update, and more... 

VADA Defense Line 


The groundhog saw his shadow, and spring will soon be here! I hope to see you at a VADA event soon.

In what was the highlight of my tenure as President thus far, a contingent from VADA participated in the second annual VADA Lobby Day at the Virginia General Assembly on January 24. With the help of VADA’s government relations consultants, McGuire Woods Consulting, members of VADA’s legislative committee had the opportunity to meet with legislators to provide information about VADA, offer our expertise as a resource, and discuss pending bills and issues of importance to the Association. It was a memorable day, and I offer my sincere thanks to Margaret Rockwell and Kassie Schroth for planning the event.

Since my last Welcome, we have also continued preparations for our 2023 Deposition Workshop, which will be held March 3-4 at the University of Richmond. All of our attorney slots for the mock depositions on Day 2 of the workshop have been filled, but we are still accepting registrants for the general session on Day 1 and as deponents/observers on Day 2. Register here.

Those of you in the Southwest Region, mark your calendars for our Southwest Region Networking Reception, which will be held on April 19 at 5:30 at Wasena City Taproom. Thank you to Planet Depos and InQuis for generously sponsoring this event, and to Chris Dadak, our Southwest Regional Director, for planning it. Register here.

Looking ahead, I hope you will join us for our Spring Sections Seminar, May 3-5, 2023 at Hotel 24 South in Staunton, and our Annual Meeting, October 25-27 at the Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Stay tuned to our website, Defense Line newsletter, and social media platforms for more information on all VADA happenings!

It continues to be a great honor to lead this wonderful organization. If you have questions or suggestions on how the VADA can be of value to you and your practice, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Julie Palmer
VADA President, 2022-23

Observer Roles Still Available

March 3-4, 2023
Jepson Alumni Center at University of Richmond

This two-day workshop will teach you 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 four-person 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 make suggestions.

Registration will open soon.

Mark your calendars now for our popular Spring Sections Seminar.  We will return to the popular Hotel 24 South (formerly the Stonewall Jackson) in Staunton for two days of litigation section-specific sessions, as well as many social events. 

While the sessions are still being finalized, you can see the general agenda and book your discounted hotel room now from the meeting website.

Join us for networking and fun with fellow VADA members.  Drinks, snacks, and exciting raffle prizes provided by our sponsors, Planet Depos and InQuis.  For an extra raffle ticket, bring a colleague who is not yet a VADA member.  Registration is free, but RSVPs are requested on the event page.

Southwest Region
April 19
Wasena City Taproom

Capitol Region
June 1
Home of Kathleen McCauley

Watch your email for dates and locations for the other regions.

The 2023 General Assembly session convened January 11, 2023, ushering in a 45-day “short” session that is projected to end on February 25. Legislators ultimately introduced over 2300 bills.  VADA’s Legislative Committee selected the following three pieces of legislation as our priority bills: 

     HB1440: Permits a finding of guilty in absentia in a traffic or criminal case to be used as evidence of liability in a subsequent civil action 

     HB1549: Amends the wrongful death statute to allow child support payments to be claimed as damages 

     HB1647: Expands the statute of limitations for claims of sexual abuse by a “person of authority” to 15 years after accrual

All three bills advanced out of the house and were assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  On February 13, 2023 HB1549 was passed by indefinitely, so the bill will die in committee.  Both HB1440 and HB1627 were reported out of the Judiciary Committee, were passed by the full Senate, and are on their way to the Governor.  As both bills were patroned by Republicans and passed by a Democratic Senate, a veto from the Governor is unlikely.  Once signed by the Governor, the bills will become effective on July 1, 2023.

We are planning a section event at the Spring Meeting in Staunton. Watch your email for details.

Don't forget to join the VADA Women’s Section Listserv.  This Listserv is private and not connected to the VADA website.  Only members of the Women’s Section may request to join the Listserv, and Amy Gilbody and Sherma Mather have exclusive rights to add any current member to the Women’s Section. To join the Listserv, please email Sherma at or Amy at

We look forward to seeing you soon!

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


March 3-4
Deposition Workshop
University of Richmond

April 19
Southwest Region Networking Event

May 3-5
Spring Sections Seminar
Hotel 24 South, Staunton

June 1
Capitol Region Networking Event

TBD Summer 2023
Paralegal Seminar

October 25-27
Annual Meeting
Marriott Resort Virginia Beach Oceanfront

December 1
Young Lawyers Boot Camp

This Berwyn, Pennsylvania, native and diehard Philly sports fan is the proud father of two boys and a Burnese Mountain Dog named Rocky.  His favorite part about practicing law?  Partnering with his clients and helping them through difficult times.  For this and more on this month’s VADA Spotlighted Member, click here.

Save the date!

September 20, 2023 will be the Frank N. Cowan VADA-VTLA Annual Golf Tournament at Independence Golf Course. Our thanks to the McCammon Group for their continued support of this event!

For information on playing, please contact VADA Past President John Owen at or Sherma Mather at

Look forward to seeing you there!

Frank N. Cowan VADA-VTLA Annual Golf Tournament

September 20, 2023

Missed A Webinar
or Meeting?

Did you know that many VADA Lunch & Learn webinars and online programs are available to watch on-demand? Click here to see the library of available content, which can be found in the members-only area of our website.

We are still working through our dues renewal season at VADA! If you have questions about your membership status, please reach out to Executive Director Sherma Mather at or Membership Chair Robyn Ayres at

Rachel Adams
Thompson McMullen

Peter Askin
Thompson McMullen

Tonia Drewery
Glenn Robinson Cathey

Laurel Huerkamp
Frith Anderson Peake

Meredith Jacobi
Hampton City Attorney’s Office

Troy Johnson
Williams Mullen

Kari Munro
Frith Anderson Peake

Curtis Orshoski
Lee Shoemaker

Benjamin Owings
Hanover Law Office

Aaisha Sanaullah
Sands Anderson

William Shanahan

William Truban
Williams Mullen

Killian Wyatt
Williams Mullen

Boost Your Well-Being (and Someone Else’s) with Random Acts of Kindness


As we turn the pages on our desk calendars, browse social media platforms, or review of favorite periodicals, we are reminded that there seems to be a ‘day’ for everything. It ranges from things like ‘National Pizza Pie Day’ and ‘National Love Your Pet Day’ to more historically significant days of remembrance like ‘Juneteenth’ and, most recently, ‘President’s Day’ on February 20, 2023.  But, just this month, you may have missed that February 17, 2023 was ‘Random Acts of Kindness Day.’ Do not worry if you forgot to participate. You were likely not alone.

Random Act of Kindness Day originated in Denver, Colorado in 1995 by a non-profit organization called The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.  And, with the benefit of the internet, the day has become more frequently celebrated across the globe in recent decades. In the practice of law, we could all undoubtedly use a random act of kindness at any given moment. The adversarial system that we operate in does not exactly lend itself to “random acts of kindness” very often. Instead, our chosen profession can often leave us feeling frustrated, irritable, or even clinically depressed. This is all the more reason to take time for random acts of kindness.

These random acts are scientifically proven to improve the health and wellness of both the giver and the receiver. A 2016 psychological study on this very topic identified “the benefits of prosocial behavior and challenge the popular perception that focusing on oneself is an optimal strategy to boost one’s mood. People striving for happiness may be tempted to treat themselves. [The study], however, suggest that they may be more successful if they opt to treat someone else instead.”  Nelson, S. K., Layous, K., Cole, S. W., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2016). Do unto others or treat yourself? The effects of prosocial and self-focused behavior on psychological flourishing. Emotion, 16(6), 850–861.

With this in mind, consider undertaking a belated celebration of “Random Acts of Kindness Day” of your own today—just maybe it will improve your well-being and that of someone else.  It may feel cliché, but what is the worst thing that could happen? 

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    VADA’S Mission

    The mission of the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys is to develop and support Virginia attorneys engaged in a civil defense practice in the professional and ethical representation of their clients 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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