Legislative Update, Trial Tactics Workshop, Lunch & Learns, and more...

VADA Defense Line December 2021

President's Welcome

To begin, thank you to all who attended our recent Young Lawyers Boot Camp at The Westin Richmond!  In all respects, this year’s Boot Camp was a resounding success.  I would like to personally thank our Young Lawyers Section, our sponsors, our speakers, and all others involved in the planning of this year’s event!

Among those who attended our Young Lawyers Boot Camp were 17 new members of VADA.  To each of you, and to all others who have joined our Association this year, I say welcome!  I also extend well-deserved congratulations to all those who were sworn in as new members of the Virginia State Bar on December 8!  For those among you who are not members of our Association, and whose practice includes the defense of civil litigation, the perfect complement to your new law license is a membership in VADA!

Allow me, too, to thank VADA member Graham Bryant for an excellent program during our November Lunch & Learn!  For those who were unable to attend, Graham put his appellate expertise to work with a detailed overview of what to expect from the forthcoming expanded jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals of Virginia.  Thank you to all who joined us for that program!  Thank you, too, to all those who joined us for our recent December Lunch & Learn featuring a meet and greet with our 2021-22 Executive Committee!

As 2021 draws to a close, I invite you to mark your calendars for a few upcoming events.  First is our next Lunch & Learn with Matthew Wagenhofer on January 12.  Please join us as Matthew shares with us strategies and tips for adding value for our clients through the use of forensic engineers.  Continuing forward, we have our 2022 Trial Tactics Workshop coming up in March, followed by our 2022 Spring Sections Seminar at the Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville on May 4-6.  Please, too, save the date for our 2022 Annual Meeting at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center on October 12-14.  For details on these and other upcoming events, please visit the VADA website, our Defense Line newsletter, and our social media platforms.

To close, I wish each of you and your families the happiest of holiday seasons and a New Year filled with health, peace, and good fortune!  Thank you for your support of VADA this past year!  Here’s to all the best in 2022!

Jason Moyers
VADA President, 2021-22

2021-22 Regional Directors

Introducing our Regional Directors for 2021-22!

Beginning in the top row, from L to R, are: Blue Ridge, Lauren Darden of Wharton Aldhizer & Weaver; Capitol, Taylor Brewer of Moran Reeves Conn; Potomac, Madelaine Kramer Katz of Rifkin Weiner Livingston LLC; Southwest, Chris Dadak of Guynn, Waddell, Carroll & Lockaby, P.C.; and Tidewater, Jonathan Hyslop of Furniss Davis Rashkind and Saunders.

Thank you to each of you for your leadership and your service to VADA!

January 12

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.

Trial Tactics Workshop
March 18-19

Registration opens soon - watch your email

Plan now to attend our two-day mock trial, where participants will be assigned as co-counsel for the plaintiff or defendant. Coaching, ahead of the event and on-site, will be provided by experienced members of the defense bar. Current and retired Virginia judges will preside and provide constructive feedback throughout the trial.

The 2022 legislative session is scheduled to begin on January 12 and will meet for 60 calendar days. As always, VADA will monitor legislation that is important to our members and carefully track the issues you care about.

Because the November elections changed the controlling majority in the House from a Democratically-controlled majority to a Republican majority, we anticipate significant changes will occur in the committees.  Currently, Del. Todd Gilbert, whose district includes Page and Shenandoah Counties plus parts of Rockingham and Warren Counties, has been nominated as House speaker.  Del. Gilbert is an attorney and practices in the area of criminal defense.  Del. Terry Kilgore, also an attorney, is slated to serve as Majority Leader. Del. Kilgore’s district includes the communities of Scott and Lee Counties, part of Wise County, and the City of Norton. The Chair of the House Courts of Justice Committee will be Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle).

Pre-filed legislation began “dropping” on the General Assembly website on November 15, 2021.  You can review these bills here.  VADA will closely monitor all introduced legislation and will keep our members apprised of bills that impact the issues we care about.

Separately, we are excited to announce that VADA will host its first ever Lobby Day, which is scheduled to occur the morning of February 22 in Richmond!  We hope this will become an annual event. We ask you to watch your inboxes for further details. 

We are working on Women’s Section events for the Spring and Annual Meetings in 2022.  We also are working on some communication options for the section, which we hope to roll out in early 2022.  As a reminder, all VADA members who identify as women are automatically included in this section.  You do not need to sign up to join the Women’s Section.  If you have any ideas or events you’d like to see, please contact Rachel Horvath (rhorvath@smithbain.com) and Jodi Simopoulos (JSimopoulos@mitchell-lawgrp.com).   Happy holidays!

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

January 12
Utilizing Forensic Engineers:
Value Added from Date of Loss through Trial


January 21
Board of Directors Meeting
Williamsburg Lodge

March 18-19
Trial Tactics Workshop

May 4-6
Spring Sections Seminar
Boar's Head Inn

Meet Your Executive Committee
Lunch & Learn

If you missed our recent Lunch & Learn, you can watch it here.  Our Executive Committee talked about VADA history, structure, plans for the coming year and shared ideas on how you can get more involved in VADA. This program is a must-watch for new members.

This Blacksburg, Virginia, native double majored in Classics and Philosophy, with a minor in English, at UVA.  Being steeped in the Classics, no wonder he is a fan of one of the best legal films of all time.  To learn more about this month’s VADA Spotlighted Member, click here.

By the Numbers

Did you know that in 2021, VADA offered 43.0 CLE hours in 7 programs with over 400 registrants? Make VADA your one stop shop for all your required CLE!

DRI has announced a full slate of in-person programming for 2022 in virtually every defense-related practice area.  Here is a link to the programs, cities, and dates.

Click here to see the upcoming DRI in-person programming.

Be on the lookout! Membership renewal notices for 2022 will be emailed out starting December 20, 2021! We look forward to the upcoming year! If you have questions about your membership status or how to process your renewal, contact Executive Director Sherma Mather at smather@vada.org or Membership Chair Todd Anderson at tanderson@herbertsatterwhite.com for more information.

A warm welcome to our newest members:

Jacob Adams
Bancroft McGavin Horvath & Judkins

MinhChau Corr
Arlington County Attorney’s Office

Courtney Cox
Gordon Reese

William Fussy
Frith Anderson Peake

Karlo Goronja
Moran Reeves Conn

Michelle Hoffer
Florence Gordon Brown

Elizabeth Southall
Zunka Milnor

Jennifer Szakaly
Bonner Trebach

Shannon Temlak
Flora Pettit

Caitlin Vannoy
Franklin Prokopic

Hariton Wilson
Franklin Prokopic

Paying it forward this month is VADA member Tom Miller.  Tom is a partner with Frankl Miller Webb & Moyers, LLP, in Roanoke. 

For more than 30 years, Tom has served his community as a member of the Kiwanis Club of Roanoke.  He served as President of the Club from 1999-2000. For the past 15 years, he has chaired the Club’s Sponsorship Committee.  Under Tom’s leadership, the Committee has raised over $150,000.00 to fund grants to agencies that support children, seniors, and the Roanoke Valley environment.  Other programs the Committee funds include the annual West End Center Christmas Party and academic scholarships and career and technical awards for high school seniors.

Each month, too, Tom delivers Meals on Wheels.  He is a regular fixture at the Kiwanis Club of Roanoke’s annual Pancake and Auction Day.  A Past President of the Roanoke Bar Association and Past Chair of the Roanoke Law Foundation, Tom further has been an enthusiastic participant in the RBA’s Rule of Law and Barrister Book Buddies programs.  The former teaches area middle school students the importance of the rule of law in American society.  The latter encourages reading among Roanoke elementary school students.

In addition to his tireless bar and civic involvement, Tom is an active member of South Roanoke United Methodist Church.  There, he sings in the choir.  He also has served on numerous committees and has participated in many youth mission trips.

Thank you, Tom, for touching the lives of so many in our community with your time and your talents!  Thank you, too, for paying it forward and making such a positive, real-world impact in the Roanoke Valley!

Attorney Mental Health – A Call to Action
Taylor D. Brewer
Moran Reeves Conn

All of us have heard the data – members of the legal profession present with mental health and substance use disorders at a higher rate than non-lawyers.  Studies have found that 19% of lawyers experience anxiety and 23% suffer chronic stress, and lawyers in private practice have the highest rates of both problem drinking and depression.  Lawyers are 3.6 times more likely than non-lawyers to suffer from depression.  Ironically, it is depressing to read about how depressed we are as a profession.   

At the Annual Meeting in October, Sam Bernier, Megan Wagner, and Janet Van Cuyk gave an excellent presentation on attorney mental health.  They made the case that, just as we self-regulate from a disciplinary standpoint, so too should we self-regulate on issues of mental health.  Indeed, the Rules of Conduct require that we do so.  As Sam, Megan, and Janet described, the privilege of being a self-governing, relatively autonomous profession carries with it the responsibility of assuring that our behavior conforms to the Rules and serves the public interest.  Their presentation inspired a call to action.

As we enter the holiday season, the VADA Wellness Committee encourages you to take ownership of your mental wellbeing and to be acutely aware of colleagues who may need support.  The ABA provides the following examples of problematic behavior: social withdrawal; procrastination; unpredictable and frequent mood swings; unwarranted anger or hostility; a change in behavior; and/or blaming others for personal failings.  Unchecked stress, anxiety, and depression increase during the winter months.  If we identify concerning behaviors in a colleague, we owe it to ourselves and each other to reach out.  Perhaps if we all act as stewards of attorney mental health, the data for the next generation of lawyers will be brighter.

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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 | www.vada.org

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

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