Reports Legal Elite

2014 Virginia Legal Elite - Family Law/Domestic Relations

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Sandra T. Chinn-Gilstrap Photo by Mark Rhodes

Sandra T. Chinn-Gilstrap
Woods Rogers PLC, Danville

Title: Of counsel
Other legal areas of concentration:  Mental health law, elder law, guardianship and conservatorships for adults, personal injuries, criminal/traffic, general corporate, real estate.
Birthplace:  Miami, Fla. (although Virginia has always been home)
Education: Bachelor’s degree with distinction, University of Virginia; law degree, University of Miami.
Spouse:  John B. Gilstrap Jr.
Children: Jake Vincent de Paul Gilstrap, 16, and Lynden Victoria Gilstrap, 12 
Hobbies or pastimes: Reading, drawing, exercising, playing card/board games with the family and traveling
First job as a lawyer:  I opened the doors to the Law Office of Sandra T. Chinn as a solo practitioner the very first day of my legal career.
Fan of: Phil Jackson, NBA’s Zen master, and U.Va. coaches O’Conner and Bennett.
Favorite vacation spot:  Puerto Rico’s quiet beaches where I can devote my undivided attention to my family, exercise and reading. 
Recently read books:  “Technopoly” by Neil Postman and “Thank you for Arguing” by Jay Heinrichs 
Career mentor:  The late Lewis “Red” E. Goodman Jr. of Danville was a part of my everyday practice from the commencement of my career until his death. Red was a cheerleader from states away while I was in law school, sending trial technique handbooks, words of encouragement and trial strategy or pointers by dictation.

What trends are you seeing in family law?
Fortunately, many of today’s family law clients are open to a pragmatic approach, mindful of the economics of litigation. Nevertheless, there is also a perilous tradeoff; more people, including those with extensive resources, are trying to resolve matters without the advice of counsel. Unfortunately, they later learn that the DIY or “cheap” divorce and/or property settlement agreements found online or in classified ads are ultimately more of an expense than an experienced attorney versed in family law.

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