I am a native of Norfolk, Virginia, and am a product of its public schools. I graduated from Granby High School in 1969, where I played on the varsity football, basketball and tennis teams. I graduated early from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where, in an effort to being well-rounded as well as a Dean’s List student, I was a member of a social fraternity and played varsity lacrosse each year. In the summers I worked a number of jobs. I was a ditchdigger and laborer, and was a member of the Laborers’ Union. I worked construction, was a restaurant bus boy, a wine steward, and an ocean lifeguard. I drove heavy equipment, including panel trucks and dump trucks.
Why do I tell you this? Because these experiences allowed me to learn about people.
Practicing law for me is about people skills: knowing clients, witnesses, jurors and judges.
I am no ivory-tower academic.
Following college, I graduated from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. In a further effort to be well-rounded, I played on the rugby team. I had a number of summer legal jobs, including working as an intern for the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office of the City of Newport News, Virginia, doing criminal law, and for a private law firm doing civil law work.
Following law school, I had a choice to make. I could pursue a legal clerkship with the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, or I could accept a clerkship with the late Honorable Walter E. Hoffman of the United States District Court, Eastern District, sitting in Norfolk. The courthouse there is now named after Judge Hoffman. While working for Judge Hoffman, I was able to assist him in trials when he was sitting as a trial judge in Norfolk. Judge Hoffman was also asked to sit as a designated judge on a number of the federal courts of appeals. I assisted him in analyzing cases, doing bench briefs, and assisting him in writing opinions when he sat as a designated judge for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, New York, the Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which dealt in applying oil and gas law, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. I attended the oral arguments to assist Judge Hoffman, and was invited to attend the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference with him in Kauai, Hawaii.
The normal federal clerkship was one year in duration. Judge Hoffman asked me to serve an additional six months, which I was happy to do.
Why do I include this history of working as a law clerk? Because I learned how judges think and decide cases. What could be more valuable than that in practicing law? I learned how to practice law on both the trial and appellate levels. Following my clerkship with Judge Hoffman, I entered the private practice of law in Hampton Roads, Virginia. I have practiced law in the general district courts, circuit courts, Supreme Court of Virginia and in the federal district and federal courts of appeals in Virginia since being admitted to practice in 1977.
I am admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Virginia. I am a member of the Virginia State Bar. Since 1977, I have appeared in these Courts all over Virginia, and have also appeared before deputy commissions of the Workers’ Compensation Commission of Virginia doing workers’ compensation legal work. My current firm was founded in 1985. We have a general civil practice, specializing in trials and appeals.
I am married, and have lived in Virginia Beach for many years. I have two grown sons, both graduates of Norfolk Academy. I coached youth soccer and lacrosse. One son works with a high tech company in the San Francisco area, and the other, a United States Army Ranger who has served several combat tours of duty in foreign countries.
My small law firm affords advantages to service insurance defense needs versus large national or statewide firms with much overhead. These advantages include:
1. Knowing which attorney is handling your work.
2. Knowing I have jurisdictional knowledge and will share this in my evaluation.
3. Keeping billing rates competitive.