Trial Tactics Registration Opens, Legislative Update, Virtual Scavenger Hunt, and more...

VADA Defense Line January 2022

President's Welcome

To begin, I would like to wish all of our members and friends a Happy New Year!  I hope you and your families had an enjoyable holiday season and are staying healthy and safe, both from the recent rounds of winter weather and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Our Board of Directors and Section leadership met via Zoom on January 21 for our first Board meeting of the new year.  In addition to taking stock of a successful 2021, we spent time discussing plans for a repeat of this success in 2022.  One of the first events we’re looking forward to is our 2022 Trial Tactics Workshop at the Delta Hotel in Richmond on March 18-19!  Geared towards newer attorneys, this workshop offers, in a mock trial setting, an invaluable opportunity to hone your skills as a civil litigator.  Other events we have on tap include our annual Spring Sections Seminar in Charlottesville on May 4-6, our monthly Zoom Lunch & Learn series, and our 2022 Annual Meeting at The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center on October 12-14.  Please mark your calendars for these and other VADA events!

My sincere thanks once again to our Board of Directors, Section Chairs and Vice-Chairs, and all others who have volunteered your time and your talents in service to our Association!  A special thank you to VADA member, and former Chair of our Appellate Advocacy Section, Joseph Pope for authoring the VADA’s winning amicus brief in the case of Stoots v. Marion Life Saving Crew, Inc., et al., Record No. 201202, recently decided by the Supreme Court of Virginia!  Thank you, too, to VADA member Missy York for writing our amicus brief in the matter of Fines v. Rappahannock Area Community Services Board, Record No. 210501, presently before the Supreme Court!  Another well-deserved round of thanks goes to our lobbyists at McGuire Woods Consulting and our entire VADA Legislative Committee as we continue to advance the interests of our members before the current Virginia General Assembly.

As I write this, it remains my hope, and that of our Board, that we will be able to resume in person events in the very near future.  As has been the case since the pandemic began, the health and safety of our members and friends remains our top priority.  We continue to monitor current guidance from the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health, and other federal, state, and local authorities and government agencies relative to our plans for upcoming events.

Last, but by no means least, I would like to thank our members for your continued dedication and support of our Association and your continual embodiment and promotion of the values and ideals on which we were founded!  Now more than ever, we are stronger together.  Our Association, our Commonwealth, and our system of justice are better because of your efforts.

Jason Moyers
VADA President, 2021-22

March 18-19
The Delta Hotel Downtown Richmond

Space is limited, so register now!

Register now for our popular two-day mock trial, where participants will be assigned as co-counsel for the plaintiff or defendant and argue their case before current Virginia judges.

Coaching, ahead of the event and on-site, will be provided by experienced members of the defense bar. Our judges and coaches will provide valuable constructive feedback throughout the entire process.

This is a must-attend event for newer attorneys. Co-counsel slots fill quickly, and this program will not be offered again until 2024,
so register now.

February 15 at 7:00 PM

VADA members, it's time for our second VADA Virtual Scavenger Hunt! Connect with fellow VADA members via Zoom while searching your home or office for the items on our list. Points will be awarded to those who return to their computer screen in the time allotted with the item requested. The more items you find, and the quicker you find them, the greater your score. At the end of the game, the participant with the most points will be crowned the winner! We will have prizes for the winner and other top players.

This event is FREE to all current VADA members!   

Introducing our At Large Directors for 2021-22!

Beginning in the top left are Michael Beverly of the Norfolk City Attorney's Office; Audra Dickens of McCandlish Holton; Laura May Hooe of Moran Reeves Conn; Sarah Jessee of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, LLP; Elizabeth Papoulakos of Harman Claytor Corrigan & Wellman; Alexandra Sipes of Harman Claytor Corrigan & Wellman; and Anna Zick of Bancroft, Boyce, Bardot, Thorsen & Katz, P.C.

Thank you all for your leadership and your service to our Association!

First and foremost, it is with regret that we announce Alex deWitt’s decision to step down as Chair of VADA’s Legislative Committee.  In speaking with Alex, he advised that his work demands are such at the present time that he did not feel he could devote the time and effort that he believes the position requires and deserves.  We thank Alex for his leadership and all he has done for VADA!  We are pleased to report that Alex has agreed to remain a member of the Committee, so that we may continue to benefit from his insight and expertise as we move forward.

Stepping into the role as Chair of the Committee is our Vice-Chair Patrick O’Grady.  Patrick is excited about the opportunity to lead the Committee.  We can think of no one better to serve in this position.  Please join us in welcoming Patrick as our new Chair!

On January 12, the Virginia legislature convened to begin the 2022 General Assembly Session. With a Republican majority in the House, there have been a number of committee changes. Delegate Robert Bell from Charlottesville now chairs the House Courts of Justice Committee and Delegate Les Adams from Southside Virginia serves as the committee’s vice chair. On the Senate side, the Democrats retain the majority and the Judiciary Committee continues to be chaired by Senator John Edwards from Roanoke.

Of course, the start of the legislative session was quickly followed by the official swearing-in of Governor Youngkin, Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears, and Attorney General Jason Miyares on January 15.   The Governor has already released eleven executive orders and directives and has selected the following individuals to serve in his cabinet, although they are awaiting confirmation by the General Assembly:

  • ·       Secretary of Administration: Margaret “Lyn” McDermid
  • ·       Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry: Matt Lohr
  • ·       Secretary of Commerce and Trade: Caren Merrick
  • ·       Secretary of the Commonwealth: Kay Coles James
  • ·       Secretary of Education: Aimee Rogstad Guidera
  • ·       Secretary of Finance: Stephen Emery Cummings
  • ·       Secretary of Health & Human Resources: John Little
  • ·       Secretary of Labor: George “Bryan” Slater
  • ·       Secretary of Natural Resources: Andrew Wheeler
  • ·       Secretary of Transportation: W. Sheppard “Shep” Miller III
  • ·       Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security: Sheriff Robert “Bob” Mosier
  • ·       Chief Diversity, Opportunity & Inclusion Officer: Angela Sailor

VADA has been monitoring the numerous bills that have been introduced and we ask that you watch your inboxes for important information regarding actions you can take to make your voice heard.

As a reminder, we will hold our Lobby Day on February 22, 2022 in Richmond. VADA members will gather in the morning and walk up to the Pocahontas Building to meet with various legislators about bills of interest to VADA.

Alan Rashkind
Furniss Davis Rashkind and Saunders

VTLA-VADA Civility and Professionalism Award

Congratulations to VADA member Alan Rashkind of Furniss Davis Rashkind and Saunders, P.C., whom the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association has selected as this year’s recipient of the VTLA-VADA Civility and Professionalism Award! Alan will receive the Award at the VTLA’s Annual Convention in March. Congratulations, Alan, on an honor well-deserved!

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 ( and Jodi Simopoulos ( 

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

February 15
Virtual Scavenger Hunt
Via Zoom

March 18-19
Trial Tactics Workshop

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

October 12-14
Annual Meeting
Hotel Roanoke

Utilizing Forensic Engineers
January Lunch & Learn

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, Matthew Wagenhofer discussed loss investigations in terms of discrete steps and activities corresponding to the method.  He used real-world examples to illustrate how incorporating Forensic Engineers into your team as trusted expert resources can enhance your efforts to advocate on behalf of your clients.

You can watch the full webinar here.

This Worcester, Massachusetts, native and jigsaw puzzle enthusiast has the unique distinction of having visited all seven continents!  For this and more about this month’s VADA Spotlighted Member, click here.

By the Numbers

VADA offers our members, at no additional charge, the opportunity to join any one or more of nine specialty litigation sections, ranging from Appellate Advocacy to Workers’ Compensation and everything in between!  Each section provides members with access to resources and information relative to their specific fields of civil defense law.  We also offer membership in three additional sections: one focusing on Wellness, one centered on the issues our members who identify as women face in their practice, and, for our younger members, our Young Lawyers Division.  To learn more, visit our website by clicking here

Did you know that you can opt-in or opt-out for hardcopy editions of our Journal of Civil Litigation? It’s easy to do: open your Membership Record and choose your own Journal Delivery Preference. If you choose the hardcopy edition, one will be mailed out to you as we publish the quarterly JCL. If you choose the Electronic Delivery, you will receive a link to the articles in the newest edition.

All of our articles and opinions are available in the library in a searchable database. For more information, contact VADA Executive Director Sherma Mather at

Receive the Journal of Civil Litigation
via Electronic Delivery

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.

Renewal season is underway!

As a reminder, our dues year runs Jan 1-Dec 31. You may have seen a renewal reminder in your email at the end of December. As always, if you have questions about your membership status please reach out to Executive Director Sherma Mather at or Membership Chair Todd Anderson at

A warm welcome to our newest members:

Jonas A. Callis
Midkiff, Muncie & Ross

Brandt Cordelli
Law Offices of Danny Howell

Michael Faust
Hancock Daniel

Robert McClain
Hancock Daniel

Matthew Wyatt
Frith Anderson + Peake

“Paying it Forward” is a new VADA feature wherein we celebrate and say thank you to a VADA member who is making a positive difference in his or her community. If you know of a VADA member whom you would like to nominate for this feature, please let us know! Contact our Executive Director Sherma Mather at

Develop a Plan for Wellness
Nathan H. Schnetzler 

Frith Anderson + Peake

As our friend Taylor Brewer mentioned last month, we must be vigilant in monitoring our mental wellbeing and that of our colleagues. Developing a plan for establishing wellbeing, whether individually or as part of the management of your law firm, is critical to that endeavor. But what do we actually mean when we talk about wellbeing or wellness?

In his October 2019 webcast, Wellness: The Six Dimensions of Wellness (available through Virginia CLE), Justice William Mims discusses six categories of wellness:

·       Physical Wellness: maintaining a healthy quality of life through a balanced diet, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and routine check-ups while avoiding harmful behaviors like substance abuse;

·       Emotional Wellness: understanding and acknowledging feelings of anger, fear, sadness, and stress and how to cope with life’s challenges;

·       Spiritual Wellness: establishing peace and harmony in our lives and harmonizing our actions with our values;

·       Social Wellness: developing and maintaining positive relationships with our family, friends, and co-workers;

·       Intellectual Wellness: learning new concepts, improving skills, and engaging in the pursuit of lifelong learning; and

·       Occupational Wellness: finding fulfillment in our careers and making a positive impact at work and in our communities.

As you can see, wellbeing is a dynamic topic: it is not just drinking a superfood smoothie, taking a yoga class, participating in “dry January”, or starting the latest fad diet. True, those might be components of one person’s wellness plan, but developing a wellness plan goes beyond the latest health trend. There is no one-size-fits-all approach either. You have to make a commitment to yourself to sit down and develop a multi-faceted wellness plan that incorporates a holistic approach to wellness as Justice Mims describes. The Virginia State Bar and the American Bar Association have a trove of resources to help with your endeavor. And the dividends you will receive from that investment will lead to better work-life balance, better management of stress, and a more positive mindset.

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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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