The "VTLA Member Spotlight" is an opportunity to turn the spotlight on a member making an impact in the Association and the profession. These members exemplify the mission of VTLA and we are thrilled they're part of the VTLA Family! If you are interested in being highlighted or nominating a colleague, please contact Courtney Hammack: chammack@vtla.com or 804.343.1143 ext. 316.

Member Spotlight Archive
2017 - Joanna Suyes, Eva Juncker, Tom Curcio, Amy Griggs, Andy Reinhardt, Lisa O'Donnell, Lee Livingston, Tillman Breckenridge, and Mark Dix
2016 - Amy Whitelaw, Kevin Duffan, Tom Albro, Molly Garrett, and Cory Ford
2015 - Jonathan Wren, Lauren Ellerman, Gobind Sethi, Rob Dean, Julie Gerock, and Brody Reid


Brielle Hunt
June 2018

Brielle Hunt, YTL Chair-Elect
Phelan Petty
Richmond

What kind of law do you practice?

All things personal injury - medical malpractice, motor vehicle accidents, products liability, mass torts/pharmaceutical liability, premises liability. I particularly enjoy the complexity and novelty of a new med mal case. 

How many years have you been a VTLA member?
4

What is the greatest benefit you've received from being a VTLA member?
As many others have said before me, the incredible wealth of knowledge available on the list-serve is truly invaluable, especially as a young lawyer. I must say, however, that the greatest benefit I've received from VTLA is membership in the Women's Caucus. I have had some of the most productive, enlightening, supportive, raw and empowering conversations with members of the Women's Caucus and I am so thankful for the inspiration, mentorship and friendship I have found in it.

Where were you born?
Ridgewood, NJ

If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
You Can In Fact Take Jersey Out of the Girl

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing young lawyers today?
The challenge of seeing the light at the end of the claustrophobic, suffocating tunnel of law school debt.

If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Can it be a restaurant? Because it would be Stella's. Last year for my birthday, I ate both lunch and dinner at Stella's, and I'm not the least bit ashamed.

Music on your current playlist?
OAR, Hootie & the Blowfish, DMB...and a lot of country pop that I am teased for on the reg.

Favorite social media account or app?
Instagram. All photos, no soapboxes.

If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?
I would love the power to heal people.

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 16?
Do not take your brother's car for a joy ride. Because you only have a learner's permit and that is illegal.

What is your guilty pleasure (TV show, sweet treat, etc.)?
Honestly, Grey's Anatomy. I've been a loyal fan for 14 seasons. It is the only show that I have the patience to wait for in between episodes (all other shows must be
binge-watched). My husband always asks me why I intentionally watch something that I know will bring me to tears. I don't really have a good answer, but I'm welling up right now thinking about that episode when McDreamy died.
 
If money wasn't an issue, what would your dream job be?
I would probably be a yoga or cycling instructor somewhere exotic like Bali or the Maldives.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
Somewhere exotic like Bali or the Maldives, so I can check out the job prospects.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I always wanted to be a doctor. Oh, the irony. 

 


Bryan Slaughter
May 2018

M. Bryan Slaughter, VTLA President 2018-2019
MichieHamlett

Charlottesville

What kind of law do you practice?
I handle catastrophic and serious personal injury cases. I have a practice that is split between products liability, general negligence, and medical malpractice. I love the diversity of the cases that come to me - everything from coal mining equipment to monster trucks to excessive force cases, and everything in between.

Best book you have ever read?
The Great Gatsby

What's your favorite holiday and why?
That's easy - Thanksgiving. I get to cook with my kids all day, see family and friends as they come through the kitchen, eat a huge meal, and maybe watch some football, and nothing else!    

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 16?
The Powerball numbers for when I was 17, and to buy shares in Apple and Microsoft. On a more serious note: that life is a marathon and not a race - keep plugging along and getting up when knocked down, back off the drinking during the first two years of college, have lots of kids (and you'll never regret spending time with them), and don't screw things up with the pretty brunette in your bar review class.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
Nepal, Peru, and Patagonia.

Music on your current playlist?
I'm really all over the place - I have Lyle Lovett, Seldom Scene, Brandi Carlile, Pearl Jam, DMB, The Smiths, English Beat, REM, Eminem, Snoop Dog, the Notorious B.I.G., and the Hamilton soundtrack. This doesn't include classical and jazz.

How many years have you been a VTLA member?
20

What is the greatest benefit you've received from being a VTLA member?
There are so many, it's hard to pick one. The association has given me incredible professional support and also some incredible friendships. Our jobs can be demoralizing sometimes, but the association provides an incredible group of colleagues who understand how difficult the fight can be.   

What is your guilty pleasure (TV show, sweet treat, etc.)?
Definitely reality crime shows - the First 48, American Greed, Dateline, etc.

Favorite social media account or app?
None yet - I can barely keep up with email and texting.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing young lawyers today?
Without a doubt - getting experience trying cases in front of juries. Skill mainly comes from repetition, and it's hard to become a skilled trial lawyer without trying cases.

 

Damon Pendleton
March 2018


Damon Pendleton
Christina Pendleton & Associates
Richmond

What kind of law do you practice?
I represent clients injured in auto, motorcycle and trucking crashes as well as a few premise cases. I've started representing clients in a few mass torts as well. 

Where were you born?
Havre de Grace, Maryland

What's your favorite holiday and why?
Thanksgiving because it's 
about family, good food, and football. I could live without the football but the other two are a must.

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 16?
You're right, but you are going about it all wrong.  

How many years have you been a VTLA member?
8

What is the greatest benefit you've received from being a VTLA member?
I regularly search the plaintiff listserv for answers to questions that come up in practice. It could be looking for an expert, finding a mediator for a particular type of case, or to check the temperament of a judge I haven't appeared in front of before. It's simply a fantastic resource for finding answers. I hope after another 20 years or so I can provide half as much assistance to the young lawyers in the group as many seasoned attorneys have provided to me over the last 8 years. 

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing young lawyers today?
Fewer and fewer cases go to trial, so there are 
less opportunities for the young lawyer to gain jury trial experience.

Music on your current playlist?
I'm mostly stuck in the 1800's for classical, 60's for jazz, 70's for R&B, and 90's for hip-hop and reggae.

If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner (living or dead), who would you invite and why?
It's cliche but if I can invite anyone it would be Jesus. There are few people in recorded history who have had a more profound impact on the world as I understand it, so I definitely have some questions for him. What did you mean by this? Did you actually say that? Did you know how much confusion that line would cause? I've got enough questions to fill a meal for sure.

Title of the last book you read?
Rework by Jason Fried

If money wasn't an issue, what would your dream job be?
I am passionate about entrepreneurship but the Virginia climate is anything but dreamlike for me. Also, I am fascinated with technology. So, if money wasn't an issue (and I couldn't practice law), I'd probably be on a Caribbean beach building a company around technology. When I'm not building something I get bored easily.  

If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
He Did It His Way (and You Can Too)

What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
This is read by lawyers, right?

 

Kyle McNew
January 2018


Kyle McNew
MichieHamlett
Charlottesville

What kind of law do you practice?
Personal injury and appellate

Where were you born?
Portsmouth, VA, and I survived!

What's your favorite holiday and why?
Christmas - it's an opportunity to reflect on the year, and the kids are so excited.

What is your guilty pleasure (TV show, sweet treat, etc.)?
Singing/talent reality shows and Broadway musical soundtracks.

 
How many years have you been a VTLA member?
7

What is the greatest benefit you've received from being a VTLA member?
I can't limit it to just one. For me, the greatest benefits have been (1) access to the listserves and (2) the collective advocacy on behalf of my clients and my practice, both in the General Assembly and in the courts via the amicus committee. 

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 16?
Slow down and experience the present - whatever it is you're running toward will still be there whenever you get there.  

Favorite social media account or app?
Favorite, and only - Facebook

If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner (living or dead), who would you invite and why?
My wife, kids, and parents, because if my answer was anything else I'd be in trouble with all of them. And I also happen to really enjoy their company. 

Title of the last book you read?
The Old Man and the Boy - Robert Ruark

If money wasn't an issue, what would your dream job be?
Probably a hunting and fishing guide. Something that allowed me to be outdoors, but on my own terms because hey, money isn't an issue in this hypo. 

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
Despite being described by some - quite unfairly - as loud, bombastic, and obnoxious, one of my favorite things is silence.