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


Jonathan Wren                                                                                                                                          
December 2015


Jonathan Timbrell Wren
MartinWren, PC
Charlottesville

What kind of law do you practice?
The majority of my practice is plaintiff's personal injury. I handle all kinds of injury cases - the weirder the better. I also maintain an active adoption practice and take on miscellaneous general civil litigation matters like the occasional estate litigation case or landlord tenant case. I also represent the County of Albemarle doing their tax collection via judicial sale work. I hope to soon represent Charlottesville doing the same work.

Where were you born?
Washington D.C.

Do you have any pets?
Yes. 1 dog. 1 cat. 1 gecko named GEICO. And 10 chickens.

Title of the last book you read?
I am currently working my way through The Broken Empire trilogy. I like historical fiction like the books by Bernard Cornwell. The Broken Empire is more fantasy than fiction, but I am still enjoying it.

What was your first job?
My first steady job for money was during the summer after my first year in college. I worked as a "park ranger" in Arlington County. My uniform was hilarious.

How many years have you been a VTLA member?
20

Greatest benefit from being a member?
In the beginning, it was the CLE that drew me to VTLA. The CLE still rocks, but now the greatest benefit is the personal relationships that I have formed and maintained with other VTLA members. Today, I most value the lasting friendships, informal collaboration, and sense of team that have grown out of and pervade my VTLA experience. I can't imagine practicing law and not being a VTLA member.

What is one random fact about yourself that no one else would believe?
I ran my first Spartan race last year - and I'm going to do it again this year. I loved it.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
I would like to see and experience more of natural North America. I would especially like to spend more time fly fishing around the country.

If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring?
Assuming I couldn't bring my family, I would bring a snorkel; a fishing rod; and my clawhammer banjo.

If money wasn't an issue, what would your dream job be?
Something to do with soccer. If there was a professional 0-40 league, I would do that. But more likely, I would coach and train youth teams full time. Or maybe try to become a professional ref. Or maybe represent young players wanting to play professionally. 

Guilty Pleasure? What can you not live without?
My one and only true love - my wife.

 


Lauren Ellerman                                                                                                                                      
November 2015


Lauren M. Ellerman
Frith & Ellerman Law Firm, PC
Roanoke

Where were you born?
Manassas Virginia (back when Prince William County was farmland!)

Title of the last book you read?
One Thousand Gifts (about being grateful for the little things)

What was your first job?
Einstein Bagel Employee in HS

How many years have you been a VTLA member?
12

Greatest benefit from being a member?
Meeting other plaintiff lawyers and sharing experiences, ideas, documents, stories.

If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner (living or dead), who would you invite and why?
My grandfather. He was my first and best cheerleader. He graduated from William and Mary in 1932, in the middle of the depression. He raised a wonderful family, read the Washington Post cover to cover every day, was an inventor and wonderful person. I miss him. 

What is one random fact about yourself that no one else would believe?
I can't keep presents I am giving a secret. Even now, about a week before a holiday I am asking my husband whether he wants to know what I got him early - or whether he wants to open his Christmas present a week before. He has will power and always declines. It drives me nuts!

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
France.

If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring?
I suppose things mean things and not people. My journal. A tent. A pony-tail holder.

Describe your most embarrassing moment.
I have tripped in more than one Courtroom across Virginia. I am short and try to wear heels, but never gracefully.

If money wasn't an issue, what would your dream job be?
I love my job. I wouldn't change my job. Maybe I would hire a few more experts if money wasn't an issue, but I wouldn't change my job. I might also purchase better hold music for our firm's phone system, or buy a cappuccino maker for the office kitchen... but no job change. 

 


Gobind Sethi                                                                                                                                                    
June 2015


Gobind S. Sethi
Hall & Sethi, PLC
Reston

Where were you born?
Chandigarh, India

Title of the last book you read?
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

What was your first job?
Summer construction work when I was in high school.

How many years have you been a VTLA member?
7

Greatest benefit from being a member?
Receiving advice from the exceptional members of VTLA when an issue arises in a case I am handling and I could benefit from a second or third opinion.  

If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner (living or dead), who would you invite and why?
My paternal great-grandfather. He died before I was born. There is a lot I would like to know about my family history going back into the 19th century that only he knew.

What is one random fact about yourself that no one else would believe?
I was never enrolled in 6th grade.

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
Depends on my mood. Some days I crave for Hawaii and clear waters, especially when I have had a long day. Other times I would like to go to Berlin, Germany. It is supposed to be an edgy city with great modern history.

 


Rob Dean                                                                                                                                                         
March 2015


Robert E. Dean
Gentry, Locke, Rakes & Moore
Roanoke

Where were you born?
Michigan 

Title of the last book you read?
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

How many years have you been a VTLA member?
3

Greatest benefit from being a member?
The greatest benefit, by far, of joining the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association is the opportunity to learn from veteran trial lawyers around the state. There are so many opportunities for mentorship: the VTLA email listserv, the VTLA annual convention, and the fall seminars. As a new trial lawyer, it has been an incredible resource.  

What was your first job?
Newspaper Route

If you were on an island and could only bring three things?
My wife, Jennifer, an immigration lawyer in Roanoke, and our four-month-old daughter, Elena, will be on the island with me. Our daughter tends to get fussy, except when we put on Winnie the Pooh, the original version, so we'd have to bring along a DVD player. My wife loves to read, so if a sack of books from the library counts as "one thing," we'll bring it. Finally, as most VTLA members know, I'm never without my iPad. Here's hoping for 4G coverage on the island.

 


Julie Gerock                                                                                                                                                
February 2015


Julie C. Gerock
Maddox & Gerock, PC
Vienna

Where were you born?
Melrose, Massachusetts 

Title of the last book you read?
H20 (a teen novel I am screening before I let my daughter read it)

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
There are lots of places I have never been so narrowing this down is not easy. If I must narrow it down, then I would have to say Alaska. I love sea life and would love to go on an Alaskan cruise.

What was your first job?
Grocery store bagger

If you were on an island and could only bring three things?
Assuming it were a tropical island, I would bring drinking water, sunscreen, and a journal with a pen. Hopefully the pen would not count as a 4th item! 

How many years have you been a VTLA member?
5

Greatest benefit from being a member?
The greatest benefit I have received is the relationships that I have developed with other attorneys around the state, both within my area of practice (family law) and outside my area of practice. This has had tremendous benefit for my clients who need legal assistance in other areas of the law as I now have trusted attorneys with whom I have personal relationships that I can confidently refer my clients to.  

If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner (living or dead), who would you invite and why?
My maternal grandmother. She died when I was about 12 years old. I was very close to her and despite my young age when she died, her impact on my life before then was significant and lasting. As a young girl and adult, I often would ask myself before making decisions what my Nana would think of the situation as she was a woman of strength who managed to persevere and provide for her family after her husband left her with three young children including a son who was deaf.

One random fact about yourself that no one would believe?
Where to begin? I was on the dance team for the University of Miami and was on the field for the Orange Bowl in 1991 and the Sugar Bowl in 1992.

If money wasn't an issue, what would your dream job be?
I would either be a dance instructor or a high school teacher. I grew up dancing and dance played such a large role in my life. It gave me poise, confidence and it taught me about perseverance and being able to take constructive criticism. With respect to being a high school teacher, I minored in secondary education and one of the most rewarding experiences I ever had was when I student taught for a semester at a high school in Miami, Florida.

Describe your most embarrassing moment.
There are so many. A legal one I remember is when I was trying to use the idiom "nip it in the bud" but unfortunately, I thought the idiom was "nip it in the butt" which I then actually wrote in a letter. I still laugh about that one!

 


Brody Reid                                                                                                                                                    
January 2015


Brody H. Reid
ReidGoodwin PLC
Richmond

Where were you born?
Richmond

Title of the last book you read?
Code of Virginia

Where do you most want to travel, but have never been?
New Zealand. Given the length of the flight, I would need at least a month away from the office. I lived in London after college and played rugby with the "London Kiwis". My teammates couldn't stop talking about how amazing things were back home - culture, landscape, and sport.

What was your first job?
Soccer Referee

One random fact about yourself that no one would believe?
While I am a huge fan of food, I won't eat raw apples. No idea why, just can't stand them.

How many years have you been a VTLA member?
7

Greatest benefit from being a member?
VTLA membership has a ton of benefits, but I think the greatest benefit I receive is the access to brainstorm and get answers from other VTLA members from the list serve or by simply calling a fellow member from the directory. Our firm is very small compared to some of these multi-state or national defense firms, so being able to pool experiences about issues or get another point of view on a particular issue in a case is invaluable and allows us to level the playing field for our clients.

If you were on an island and could only bring three things?
Great question. Other than the practical (satellite phone, desalination kit, and solar powered RV), I would probably bring a hammock, radio, and scuba gear. Can't think of three better ways to pass the time on an island.

Describe your most embarrassing moment.
Other than being asked to share my most embarrassing moment with the whole internet you mean? Seriously - can I plead the fifth?