Annual Meeting hotel cutoff this week, Young Lawyers Boot Camp, kudos for VADA members, and more...

VADA Defense Line September 2021

President's Welcome

Thank you for the opportunity to be of service to you this year as your President. My term ends at next month’s Annual Meeting, and thereafter, Jason Moyers will enthusiastically take the helm.

While my term has been unprecedented due to COVID-19 changes, with many remote meetings with a few in person events, VADA adapted to these setbacks. I am proud how we were all quick to adapt to the changes and embrace new technology. I am pleased that we were able to continue our mission of providing educational opportunities to our members in alternative formats of webinars and remote CLEs, and communication by keeping our members well informed about COVID-19’s impact on the courts through current updates to multiple social media platforms and Defense Line.

Even though COVID-19 challenges continue, we are ready to transition to the next step and offer our Annual Meeting on October 20-22 in person, with an updated COVID-19 policy. Our Annual Planning Meeting Committee and Section leadership have put together a great program. We will also have activities from our two newly-formed committees – our Wellness Committee, chaired by Immediate Past President Melissa Katz, and our Women’s Committee, chaired by Rachel Horvath.  See the meeting webpage or the article below for all the details.

We remain committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all who attend, and we continue, too, to work closely with the Marriott Resort Virginia Beach Oceanfront to promote appropriate health and safety measures for the benefit of those who attend. In addition, we are requiring all attendees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or, alternatively, to have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to the start of our Annual Meeting. We recognize that the decision to attend our Annual Meeting, as with any in-person event, is a personal one involving many factors.  While we look forward to seeing everyone at the meeting, we encourage you to make the choice that best fits your personal comfort level and individual circumstances. See our 2021 Annual Meeting COVID-19 Policy or the article below for details. Should circumstances require us to modify the schedule or format of our Annual Meeting, we will advise accordingly.

In the last quarter of 2021, VADA will also continue its mission to educate our young lawyers. Our Young Lawyers Boot Camp is scheduled for December 3 in Richmond. VADA offers rich programming to our younger attorneys with the objective of creating rising stars who are also assets to our firms, this organization, and the practice of law. Please encourage your newer attorneys to register.

Thank you again for your support this past year. It has been an honor to hold this position and a joy to work with others who are committed to moving our organization forward.

Tate C. Love
VADA President, 2020-21

VADA 2021 Annual Meeting


October 20-22
Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront

Register today for our Annual Meeting! We hope you will join us at an exciting new Annual Meeting venue, located just steps from the beach.  We will meet in person and have updated our COVID-19 policy to provide for a safe and healthy environment for all participants.

In addition to our cutting edge general session CLE programming, our Litigation Sections will offer 2 hours of CLE programming specific to your practice areas.  Some sessions include:

  • Preserving Your Appeal
  • Social Inflation in the Courtroom
  • Corporate Representative Depositions
  • Ethical Considerations in Local Government
  • Handling Virginia Consumer Protection Act Claims in Medical Malpractice Cases
  • A Discussion of the Recent General District Court Jurisdictional Increase
  • Recent Developments in the Presumption Laws Under the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act

Don't miss our Awards Luncheon, and popular networking receptions and VADA Late Nights as well as 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.
For complete agenda and meeting details, please visit our Annual Meeting webpage.


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 October 1 or when the block is full, whichever is first, so book today using the link found on the meeting webpage.

Annual Meeting COVID-19 Policy
Updated September 20, 2021

VADA remains committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all who attend our 2021 Annual Meeting. We continue to monitor current guidance from federal, state, and local health authorities and government agencies relative to the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue, too, to work closely with the Marriott Resort Virginia Beach Oceanfront to promote appropriate health and safety measures for the benefit of those who attend.

In furtherance of our commitment, VADA will follow all COVID-19 safety protocols and mandates that are in place at the time of our Annual Meeting. We are requiring all attendees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or, alternatively, to have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to the start of our Annual Meeting. Hand sanitizer stations will be provided throughout the venue. Social distancing will be required. We further strongly encourage the wearing of masks by all in attendance, regardless of vaccination or test status, during all indoor portions of the event. Follow this link to read our 2021 Annual Meeting COVID-19 Protocols. If you have any questions or concerns about this policy, please contact our Director of Meetings, Amy Gilbody, at agilbody@vada.orgShould circumstances require us to modify the schedule or format of our Annual Meeting, we will advise accordingly.

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.

We would like to congratulate the following VADA members on being named to the 2021 Class of “Leaders in the Law” by Virginia Lawyers Weekly:

D. Cameron Beck, Jr., McCandlish Holton, Richmond

Jason Guy Moyers, Frankl Miller Webb & Moyers, LLP, Roanoke

We also would like to congratulate the following members for being named by Virginia Lawyers Weekly to its 2021 Class of “Up & Coming Lawyers”:

Taylor D. Brewer, Moran Reeves Conn, Richmond

Graham K. Bryant, Byrne Canaan Law, Richmond

Katie M. DeCoster, Frith Anderson + Peake, Roanoke

Alexandra J. Sipes, Harman Claytor Corrigan & Wellman, Alexandria

Cam, Jason, Taylor, Graham, Katie, and Ally will join this year's other honorees on October 19 at a ceremony at The John Marshall in downtown Richmond. Congratulations to Cam, Jason, Taylor, Graham, Katie, and Ally and to all of this year's honorees!

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.

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.

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

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

December 3
Young Lawyers Boot Camp

This Richmond native and Hokie alum loves the adrenaline rush of trial work.  (Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” being her courtroom walkup music might have something to do with it!)  For more on this month’s VADA Spotlighted Member, click here.

This one-day seminar, held in Richmond on December 3, is where newer attorneys learn the practical information needed to practice defense law.  Sessions are taught by experienced members of the civil defense bar and the judiciary.  Includes networking happy hour at the end of the program. We have a different agenda than 2020, so plan to attend again. 

Topics include:

  • Ethical Issues in a Civil Defense Practice 
  • The Survivor's Guide to Expert Witnesses
  • Navigating Your Way through Virginia General District and Circuit Courts and other Practical Tips in Civil Litigation
  • Mediation in Civil Litigation
  • Written Discovery
  • Insurance Coverage in Automobile Cases
  • Judicial Advice for New Lawyers-Panel Discussion

See the complete agenda and meeting information on the meeting website.

If you have questions about your membership status, or questions about how to help someone in your office join VADA, please reach out to Executive Director Sherma Mather at or Membership Chair Sam Bernier at for more information.

A warm welcome to our newest members:

Alison Feehan
Harman Claytor Corrigan Wellman

Reece Robertson
Reece Hale Robertson Law

DRI Golden Coat Competition
(11/2 – 12/31)

Get set, get ready, COLLECT! 

It is time for the third annual Golden Coat SLDO competition. VADA will participate to collect coats to keep the members of our community warm this winter. The donated coats are given to shelters in the local area to be distributed for free to people in need. Over the past two collections, over 5,000 coats have been collected and donated by our SLDO members.

Collections will take place between November 1-December 31 and the coat tally will be reported to DRI. More details will follow, but donated coats should be sent to the Regional Director in your Region. If you have questions about who your Regional Director is, please reach out to VADA Executive Director Sherma Mather at (But there will be NO POINTS deducted if you want to get a jump start and start collections now!!)

And yes, a TROPHY will be send to the winning SLDO. Feel good, Do good. #DRICares/#SLDOsCare

VADA Wellness Corner

Insomnia:   Tips to Shut Down Your Racing Brain
By Melissa H. Katz

Sometimes sleep proves elusive.  Sometimes it is short-lived.  Sometimes we wake up at 3 a.m. with thoughts racing through our brains at a 100 mph.  We toss and turn.  Our anxiety builds.  We are trapped in a vicious cycle of knowing we need to sleep, but we can’t. 

Proper sleep is recognized for increasing longevity and assisting us in reaching our peak performance.   What can we do to improve the quality and quantity of our sleep?   I became interested in this question, after learning from a retired judge, while we were on break during a mediation, about his wife who had trouble sleeping.  She was a master yogi, in her mid to late 60s, who can actually balance her own body weight on one hand.   If someone who is that fit can’t sleep or has trouble getting back to sleep – what does that mean for the rest of us? 

If sleep is truly difficult or transient, then a trip to your primary care physician is in order.  If sleep is only temporarily troublesome, then there may be certain culprits playing a role in your night time zzzs.   It’s time to put yourself under review.  What can you stop and/or improve in order to capture a good night’s sleep?

First, routine is king.  Prime your mind for bedtime.  Get into a ritual to get your mind and body ready for some shut eye.  Do something relaxing before bedtime (different strokes for different folks) and strive to go to bed at the same time each night.  Cup of milk, herbal tea (Sleepy Time Tea), cherries, magnesium (supplement), etc. may assist in feeling sleepy.  Also create conditions for a good night’s sleep – dark and cool room; get cozy under the blankets.  

Second, examine your daily habits.  Are you setting yourself up for a good night’s sleep?   Are you getting enough physical activity (i.e. exercise!) each day?  What are you eating and drinking during the day?  Are you eating food that is not agreeable to a good night’s sleep?  Are you drinking alcohol after you get home?  Alcohol plays havoc with the quality of sleep and amps up any stress you have about staying asleep.  Change your habits if they are not supporting healthy sleep.  

Third, what do you do when you wake up with a racing mind?  Lying there worrying isn’t going to fix it.  You can get up and do a brain dump of everything that is racing in your mind.  You can get up and start tackling the list if you are so stressed you know sleep is not going to work.  You can try an app such as Headspace, Calm, or Brain FM to find some mind numbing story or music to lull you back to sleep.  My all time favorite is listening to “Forensic Files” – that’s a show that is not only available on Cable TV but also on Spotify.  There is something about the show’s monotone, hypnotic recount of a criminal act (usually with the mystery solved) that puts me out.   Recently, there was a New York Times article about other methods people used to fall back asleep.  Check it out here. There are many options to try.

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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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