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2014 VTLA Round Up

Below is the Law Letter Tom prepared for the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association explaining the high points of the first half of his presidency. This letter was originally published on the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association website.
As my goals as your president include improving civility and professionalism within the practice, and increasing the mentorship of younger and newer members, there are a few things I’d like to share.
First, a VTLA-VADA civility seminar titled “Civil Conversations-How to be Strong, Respectful, and Professional Even in an Adversarial Process” was held in Richmond this fall and was a great success. Thanks to Ethics and Professionalism Committee Co-Chairs Julie Cillo and Chidi James for their hard-work in organizing and running the event, and thanks to panelists Justice Elizabeth Lacy, Richmond Circuit Court Judge Richard D. Taylor, VADA member Kate McCauley (current VADA president) and VTLA member and past president Irv Cantor for their time and wisdom. Thanks also to John Owen, immediate past-president of the VADA for his hard work and cooperation in making this program a great success. Other such conversations are being planned in Northern Virginia in January and in Roanoke also early next year.
Are you a golfer?
In October, I had the pleasure of working with John Owen on the first VTLA-VADA Match Play Golf Tournament, which was held at the Salisbury Country Club in Richmond. Each Association had 14 players and a great time was had by all. (Oh, did I mention that we won by a very comfortable margin?) To all our golfing members, please keep this on your radar for next year as John and I hope to make it an annual event.
Be a Member Sponsor
Our membership committee, headed by Kyle McNew, has come up with the simple and brilliant idea to increase mentorship within our profession and association. You, as a current member, can help a new or young trial lawyer be a VTLA member! I have sponsored several new members and it is a win-win all around: the new lawyer gets exposed to our members and all the benefits this organization has to offer; the association is benefitted by new, energetic, and soon to be talented members; and the cause of justice is served by better-trained and more skilled advocates. On a personal level, you and the young lawyer you sponsor could form a bond that is likely to flourish over the years. Contact Cindy Harper at VTLA for a form – it’s easy to sponsor. If you don’t know a new lawyer to sponsor, let VTLA help you identify one.
New Women’s Caucus
Also this fall, the Board of Governors approved the establishment of a Women’s Caucus, and the Leadership Team has hit the ground running. A listserve was launched a few weeks ago, plans are under way for a program at VTLA’s Justice Day in January, a luncheon at the Annual Convention, and more. Thanks to Immediate Past President Barbara Williams for giving this long-discussed idea a spark to form.
Be part of Veteran’s History Project
Congress has enacted the “Veteran’s History Project,” a visual and oral recording of veterans which will be stored in perpetuity in the Library of Congress for access by future generations. Volunteers are needed to conduct the interviews, and I, my receptionist, and her boyfriend (also a lawyer) recently participated as part of commemorating Veteran’s Day. I had the privilege of interviewing an Army veteran who served in Vietnam from January 1968 through January 1969. Hearing of his personal experiences and sacrifices during the war and the challenges he faced upon returning home and challenges he continues to face, gave me the utmost respect for the thousands like him who have served and continue to serve our country. Participating in the program is very easy as there is a kit with a few forms to complete and questions to ask the veteran which easily springboard into other questions. As skilled lawyers, dealing with people, day-in-and-day-out, we are especially suited to conduct such interviews and I plan on doing more over the years. If you are interested, search “Veteran’s History Project” on the web, or contact me and I can e-mail you a kit. The project is open to all veterans, and I plan to interview several friends and relatives, some that have seen combat and some that haven’t, and expect each has their own unique history to tell.
Lastly, as I get older, holidays take on a bigger and more important role in my life. I urge you to spend time this holiday season with family and friends and to reflect upon the good fortunes that each of us share in our lives. Take a moment to give thanks for our many, many blessings, which include the privilege to practice law and pursue justice, the noblest of all causes, and to share the friendship and fellowship of all in our great organization. I wish you all and your families a happy holiday season.
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