2017 Advanced Family Law Retreat


8.5 CLE Hours

Retreat Co-Chairs:
Molly Garrett, ShounBach, PC, Fairfax
Augusta Meacham, Mullett Dove Meacham & Bradley, PLLC
, Arlington

Judges in Attendance Joining Us for Roundtable Discussions:
The Hon. Philip C. Hollowell, Virginia Beach J&DR Court
The Hon. Teena Grodner (Ret.), Fairfax J&DR Court
The Hon. Kimberly Irving, Prince William Circuit Court
The Hon. Daniel Ortiz, Fairfax Circuit Court
The Hon. Edward A. Robbins, Jr., Chesterfield and Colonial Heights Circuit Courts
The Hon. Frederick G. Rockwell III, Chesterfield and Colonial Heights Circuit Courts

The Hon. Winship Tower (Ret.), Virginia Beach J&DR Court

Registration fee includes electronic materials, Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast and lunch.

Friday, February 24th

1:00 p.m. Welcome and Introduction

1:15 p.m. Preparing for Trial: Reeves W. Mahoney, Mahoney Nashatka Richmond, PLLC, Virginia Beach
All good trial lawyers know the devil is in the details and the most important time spent on a case is the time before you walk into Court. Case preparation that begins before a case starts can have a huge impact on how effectively the case is presented.   Mr. Mahoney will discuss preparing the case strategically, evaluating evidence and how best to present a persuasive case for your client.

2:15 p.m. Pretrial Matters: Debra Powers, The Susan Hicks Group, PC, Fairfax
Controlling what evidence will be presented or introduced by the other side starts well before trial. Discovery, depositions, motions in limine and other preliminary matters allow you to identity what evidence you can keep out and what evidence will come in and how to prepare for admission of adverse evidence. Ms. Powers will address these issues and more!

3:00 p.m. Break

3:15 p.m. Opening Statements: Mary Burkey Owens, Owen & Owens, PLC, Midlothian
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. In many jurisdictions judges are assigned cases the morning of trial or shortly before and have never heard any pre-trial matter in a case before them until the day of trial. Ms. Owens will address effectively presenting your client’s story and ensuring that when your opening statement is done and the first witness is called, the Judge is familiar with the story and listens for key evidence. 

4:00 p.m. Direct Examinations: Allison W. Anders, Parks Zeigler, PLLC, Virginia Beach
Especially in family law cases, clients are dealing with racing emotions and high levels of stress and anxiety, but they are often the most important witness of the case.  Ms. Anders will address how to best structure your examination so that all of the important facts are introduced and how best to down play or address bad facts. We will also talk about how to best prepare your client and collateral witnesses for direct examination and how to keep control when our clients try to take control and tell their story.

5:00 p.m. Round Table Discussion with Judges

6:30 p.m. Dinner

Saturday, February 25

8:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast

9:00 a.m. Cross Examinations: Beth A. Bittel, Law Offices of Beth A. Bittel, PC, Fairfax
Cross examinations are often the highlight of a hotly contested trial. There are many things that go into successful cross examinations, including at the outset, decisions whether or not to cross examine a witness, deciding what areas to cross a witness on, what approach to take and impeachment. We all know the rules of cross examination that we learned in law school – but not all of us follow them. Ms. Bittle will share her personal “laws” of cross examination and tips and pointers to get your point across using the opposing party’s witnesses, which can be the most compelling evidence in a case.  

10:00 a.m. Expert Testimony: Susan Butler, ShounBach, PC, Fairfax
Whether the expert is a mental health professional, a CPA, a business evaluator or a vocational rehabilitation counselor, how best to present the evidence so it carries the most weight is critically important. We all know that expert testimony is governed by Rule 2:702(B), but beyond that, Ms. Butler will share her insights on how to make the experts’ testimony as compelling as possible and also, how to effectively voir dire the opposing party’s witnesses and pointers on how to exclude them from testifying as an expert all together.  

10:45 a.m. Break

11:00 a.m. Effective Trial Objections & Preserving the Record: James R. Cottrell, Cottrell Fletcher Bartol & Cottrell, PC, Alexandria
Every lawyer wants to control the Courtroom. Trial objections are an important part of being able to control what evidence comes in and what stays out. Objections can also be used to try and control the tempo of the case and distract witnesses and the opposing attorney. Knowing how, when and why to make objections during trial is crucial to being able to zealously represent your client’s interests. Also, timely trial objections are key to being able to preserve the record in the event of an appeal. Mr. Cottrell will share his perspectives on these topics and expand on the presentation he gave at the September Family Law Seminar.  

11:45 p.m. Lunch and Roundtable Discussion with Judges

12:45 p.m. Closing Statements and Post-Trial Motions: Melanie A. Friend, CowanGates, PC, North Chesterfield
Closing arguments are the culmination of a trial. Whether good, bad or ugly, all of the evidence that was allowed in is before the Court and its now your chance to use it to your client’s advantage and tell your story using your theory of the case. Ms. Friend will share her pointers for making an effective closing statement addressing areas such as how to use exhibits and visual aids and how to best deal with weakness in your case in closing. Ms. Friend will also address the important and most effective use of rebuttal arguments. 

1:45 p.m. J&DR Appeals to Circuit Court: Jason P. Seiden, MichieHamlett, Charlottesville        
Many of our cases start out in a local Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court and then end up in Circuit Court, whether on appeal or due to divesture. Mr. Seiden will discuss considerations both in the transition process between the courts as well as ‘what happens next’ with regard to Guardians ad litem and discovery. 
2:30 p.m. Break

2:45 p.m. Ethical Considerations, Social Media and Evidence: Brandon H. Zeigler, Parks Zeigler, PLLC, Virginia Beach
It seems that almost everyone has a social media presence, whether on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or whatever the newest and greatest social networking site is on any given day. Knowing that a client’s online presence can be discoverable, what obligations do we have to warn or even instruct our client with regard to their past, present and future social media presence? Mr. Zeigler will lead our discussion about best practices given our professional responsibilities when dealing with this ever evolving area of discoverable information. 

3:30 p.m. Round Table Discussion with Judges

4:00 p.m. Adjournment



Keswick Hall & Golf Resort

Keswick Hall & Golf Resort
Keswick, VA

SOLD OUT A limited number of rooms for Friday, Feb. 24 are available at Keswick Hall. Call the reservation office 888-778-2565 before February 3, 2017 and mention VTLA. Cancellation of individual reservations will be accepted up to seven (7) days prior to scheduled arrival without penalty.

For directions and amenities, visit www.keswick.com.

2/2/17 Update: Rooms have sold out at Keswick Hall. If you need a room, the Hilton Garden Inn in Charlottesville is 10 minutes away and has availability. Please call 434-979-4442 to reserve a room.

Cancellation Policy

Written cancellations postmarked 2 weeks prior to the seminar will be refunded the application fee, less a $100 administrative fee. No refund will be given for cancellation after that date, but you may request that your application fee be credited toward future VTLA seminars if you notify us by February 17.