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
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


Amy Griggs
August 2017


Amy S. Griggs
Regan Zambri & Long PLLC
Washington, DC

What kind of law do you practice?

70% medical malpractice and 30% everything else

Where were you born?
Columbus, OH 

Music on your current playlist?
Podcasts! Pod Save America and Note to Self are favorites

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing young lawyers today?
The biggest challenge is gaining trial experience and expertise since so many cases resolve outside of court.


How many years have you been a VTLA member?
9

What is the greatest benefit you've received from being a VTLA member?
The greatest benefits I've received from VTLA are the advice and mentoring of attorneys from around the state and the access to collaboration and creative ideas for approaching cases.

What is your guilty pleasure (TV show, sweet treat, etc.)?
We have a toddler at home so most of our TV viewing is Disney/Pixar. I can talk in great detail about the "Toy Story" or "Cars" franchises. We saw "Moana" in the theater three times but never managed to stay through until the end before the toddler got the wiggles

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 16?
What you think you want to be...you will. Work hard, be kind to people, and don't be afraid to take risks.

If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner (living or dead), who would you invite and why?
Julia Child: her life was fascinating. We would cook together and talk about her adventures as a spy. We would have amazing wine, Boeuf Bourguignon, and cherry clafouti.


 

Andy Reinhardt
July 2017


Andrew J. Reinhardt
Reinhardt | Harper | Davis 
Richmond

What kind of law do you practice?
We help injured workers.

Where were you born?
Upstate New York 

If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?
Small Town Boy

What was your first job?
Newspaper delivery boy


What is your guilty pleasure (TV show, sweet treat, etc.)?
Drinking iced tea, eating redskin peanuts and watching MSNBC; the trifecta


What would you most like to tell yourself at age 16?
No worries. It's all good.


If money wasn't an issue, what would your dream job be?
Teaching and coaching, which is something we all do every day at RHD; and maybe an artist.
 

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
Besides going to the gym and hanging out with family, most free time is spent doing oil paintings.


What do you think is the biggest challenge facing young lawyers today?
Finding the right work culture and people to work with.

How many years have you been a VTLA member?
25

Greatest benefit from being a member?
There are so many. For any young lawyers, the more time and effort you put in as a VTLA member the more you get back by many multiples.

Best book you have ever read?
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, Secret Knowledge; Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters by David Hockney and Lincoln by Gore Vidal 
 
Music on your current playlist?

Coldplay, Sara Evans, Alison Krauss with Union Station
 
Do you have any pets?
Two dogs; a lab and a beagle

 

Favorite social media account or app?
Facebook

If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner (living or dead), who would you invite and why?
My parents and grandparents. Monette's parents and grandparents. Monette and both of my boys. My Sister, and her family, and my brother. Many of these folks are gone. It would be great for all of us to be together around a very large table so that we could all say and show how much we love each other. 


 


Lisa O'Donnell
May 2017


Lisa Palmer O'Donnell
Retired
Virginia Beach

What kind of law do you practice?
Not currently practicing, but my focus was medical malpractice, personal injury and sports law.

How many years have you been a VTLA member?
27

Greatest benefit from being a member?
Collaboration to overcome obstacles in cases and practice.

Where were you born?
Leesburg, Virginia 

If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?
Despite it all, she kept the faith.

What was your first job?
Hospital cafeteria worker
  
What would you most like to tell yourself at age 16?
It's ok not to always be the good girl.


If money wasn't an issue, what would your dream job be?
Running a bed and breakfast.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing young lawyers today?
Managing enormous litigation expenses and firm costs.

If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner (living or dead), who would you invite and why?
My grandmothers, Thomas Jefferson and General Wade Hampton

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I never wanted to be a lawyer growing up. I wanted to be a nurse or a vet.

Best book you have ever read?
Gone With the Wind (many times!)


Music on your current playlist?
Dierks Bentley and classic country
 

Do you have any pets?
2 dogs

What is your guilty pleasure (TV show, sweet treat, etc.)?
Dark chocolate and red wine, especially when drinking that wine with Chuck Zauzig, Mandy Burnett, Derrick Walker and the other VTLA sommeliers. You know who you are.

 


Lee Livingston
April 2017


R. Lee Livingston
MichieHamlett
Charlottesville

What kind of law do you practice?
Personal Injury
Medical malpractice
Legal malpractice
Defamation law

How many years have you been a VTLA member?
23

Greatest benefit from being a member?
The greatest indirect benefit VTLA has provided to me is the preservation of access to justice for my clients. Without VTLA, tort reform would have diminished their ability to recover against wrongdoers and limited my practice in profound ways.

The greatest direct benefit has been friends who help me serve my clients with the highest levels of skill and professionalism. It's hard to imagine achieving much in the profession without my VTLA colleagues.

Where were you born?
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 

If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?
If accurate, something boring like "The Loyal Teaching Worker"; In my dreams, "Champion of Justice for the Injured"

What was your first job?
Construction laborer

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 16?
Even though you have moved and changed schools every two years, you will find a nice community to settle in and "everything's gonna be all right." 

Best book you have ever read?
Screwtape Letters

Music on your current playlist? 
Tom Petty, U2, REM, Prince, Coldplay, The Cure, Cheap Trick, Smashing Pumpkins, Hits from The Voice, The Police, Rush, Kanye West, Usher, Elvis, Janis Joplin and Sacred Treasures from Russian Cathedrals

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I am a terrible athlete.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing young lawyers today?
There are many: Major technological advances like driverless cars that will diminish the work of injury and insurance lawyers, unbundling of services and increased demand for bargain, one off legal services are key challenges.

Favorite social media account or app?
Facebook

If money wasn't an issue, what would your dream job be?
Professor of philosophy riding a circuit of visiting teaching gigs all over Europe.

If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner (living or dead), who would you invite and why?
Martin Luther King, to understand how he got such courage, how he developed strategies, how he saw his mission, and to explore the theological underpinnings of his philosophy.

Do you have pets?
Grew up with them, but not now.

What is your guilty pleasure (TV show, sweet treat, etc.)?
Breaking Bad, Sopranos, Mad Men, and the like.

 


Tillman Breckenridge
February 2017


Tillman J. Breckenridge
Bailey & Glasser
Washington DC

What kind of law do you practice?
I am an appellate and Supreme Court lawyer. That entails briefing and arguing cases on appeal all over the country in state and federal courts. But it also includes consulting on trials and other advice at the trial level. Thankfully, the key skills translate anywhere, so I am able to have both a national and a state practice. I also head the Appellate & Supreme Court clinic at the William and Mary Law School.

How many years have you been a VTLA member?
1

Greatest benefit from being a member?
Easily getting to know a new group of great people. Since moving from a defense firm, I've met some truly nice and outstanding people at VTLA events. Everyone has been very welcoming and kind.

Where were you born?
Michigan -- Go Blue!

Favorite social media account or app?
Words With Friends

If money wasn't an issue, what would your dream job be?
Boring answer, but it would only be a slight variant on where I am now. I wanted to be a lawyer since at least third grade, and even filled out the little career forms to try to have it come out as lawyer. I loved the idea of working to make the boundaries by which people interact fair for all. When I got a little older, I tried out a few other things. I was an EMT to see if I wanted to be a doctor. I looked into psychology and advertising. I always came back to law. I'm living my dream.

If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?
Doing His Part

What was your first job?
Cook at Long John Silvers

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 16?
Find and get good value out of mentors. I know you're pathologically shy, and you have no basis for knowing this, but there are many people out there who can guide you along your way. It is best for you and everyone whose lives you will eventually affect to absorb as much as you can. You will get some bad, but well-intended advice along the way, and having good mentors can help prevent the negative effects. 

Best book you have ever read?
Gotz and Meyer by David Albahari

Music on your current playlist? 
Gangsta rap and musicals

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I'm a bit of an energy nut. I read what I can get my hands on about new energy technologies (in my rare free moments with two jobs, a wife, and four young kids) with an eye toward someday affecting energy policy in a positive manner. It feeds the old math/science nerd in me that I'd abandoned after high school. I'm in love with the new molten salt reactor designs. The song I listen to on the way to oral argument might surprise a few people too, but I'll keep that out of print.

 


Mark Dix                                                                                                                                                       
January 2017


Mark D. Dix
Cantor, Stoneburner, Ford, Grana & Buckner
Richmond

What kind of law do you practice?
Primarily personal injury, but I've always had civil rights (1983, police misconduct, jail cases) and employment as my niche practice areas, remnants from my days as an Assistant Corporation Counsel for the District of Columbia.

Where were you born?
Fairfax, Virginia

Favorite social media account or app?
Facebook

If money wasn't an issue, what would your dream job be?
I'd work at NASA. Any job, doesn't matter. Well, except freeze-dried food tester; too many bad memories from trying the ice cream at the Air & Space Museum gift shop on field trips.

If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?
There Is No Way That Actually Happened

What would you most like to tell yourself at age 16?
Be patient, take time to smell the roses. Try as many things as you can. As a teenager, I think I was too eager to grow up and be an adult, and a lawyer in particular; I fully blame "L.A. Law." Now, especially as a father of two amazing kids, I find myself trying to slow time down. 

What is your guilty pleasure?
Craft beers, enjoying Richmond's incredible dining scene with family and friends, binge-watching a TV series on Netflix, sleeping-in (never seems to happen), and playing video games on my PS4 (also, never seems to happen). 

Best book you have ever read?
Animal Farm

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
Eight years ago (and most definitely before kids!), I was looking for something challenging to undertake in my spare time, so I became a volunteer firefighter and EMT for Chesterfield County. It was a lengthy process, the same required of career firefighters, entailing several hundred hours on nights and weekends over 9 months. I worked my way up to engine driver, and am now an Acting Lieutenant. I also love live music, and have a love/hate relationship with sweet potatoes.

Do you have any pets?
Yes, an incredibly sweet, 9 year old rescue pitbull mix

Music on your current playlist? 
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Young the Giant

If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner (living or dead), who would you invite and why?
Albert Einstein, so that hopefully someone can finally explain to me his theory of relativity in a way that will stick. Multiple attempts, including taking Astronomy and Cosmology classes at William & Mary, have all failed.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
Finally, an easy question! Safari in Africa, or anywhere in South America.

How many years have you been a VTLA member?
9

Greatest benefit from being a member?
Camaraderie, hands down. I came to VTLA with a unique perspective, having previously worked as a defense lawyer for a number of years, and an active member of several defense bar associations. You just cannot place VTLA in the same category as the organizations of which I had been a member. The mutual respect, friendship, the willingness to help one another, especially in times of need, is unparalleled. I've heard VTLA described as the state's largest law firm; I'm a firm believer in that.