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2012 Legal Elite Profile: BUSINESS LAW

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THOMAS G. JOHNSON JR.
Willcox Savage
Norfolk

NewsTitle: Chairman
Other legal specialties:  Commercial real estate
Birthplace:  Norfolk
Education: University of Virginia, bachelor’s degree in economics and law degree
Spouse:  Patricia
Children:  Thomas G. Johnson III, 43; Elizabeth Simmons, 40; Gary Johnson, 34
Hobbies:  Skiing, hiking, reading
First job as a lawyer:   Associate at Willcox, Savage, Lawrence, Dickson and Spindle
Fan of:  Iconic tennis players, past and present, such as Laver, Sampras and Federer
Favorite vacation spot: Snowmass, Colo.
Recently read book: “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand; “The Social Animal” by David Brooks
Career mentors:  “Lead partners when I came to the Willcox firm: Tommy Willcox, Billy Dickson, Dick Spindle and Toy Savage, the latter still comes in daily and gives me pointers.”

How can the legal environment for business in Virginia be improved?
“Litigation has become far too expensive except as a last resort.  A significant improvement would be for discovery to be drastically reduced and state court procedure to be changed so that summary judgment was a realistic prospect.  One unintended consequence of the exorbitant cost of litigation is that rational business people move to mediation as quickly as possible.”

You represent some U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies. What should be done to attract more foreign investment in Virginia? 
“The complaint I hear from foreign clients who have manufacturing facilities in Virginia is the shortage of skilled workers to meet their needs, such as welders.  They literally have jobs that go begging; they hesitate to expand because of difficulty of finding qualified technical workers.  By pointing everyone to college, we do a disservice to many.  Our public schools need to develop fulltime academic/technical career high schools that offer pathways to technical certification and careers for what would be fulfilling, high-paying jobs for many of today’s students.”


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