- November 30, 2016
Brett A. Spain
Willcox & Savage PC
Other legal specialties: First Amendment/media law; business litigation.
Education: Bachelor’s and law degrees, University of Virginia.
Spouse: Julie W. Spain
Children : Jack (1 4), Hunter (11), Molly (9), Mia (7), Kate (7), Ellie (3), Luke (1)
Hobbies or pastimes: Guitar
First job as a lawyer: Law clerk to the Hon. Henry Coke Morgan Jr. (Eastern District of Virginia)
Fan of: U.Va. sports, Washington Redskins and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Favorite vacation spot: Outer Banks
Recently read book: “Lost Moon” by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger
Career mentors: Conrad M. Shumadine, Gary A. Bryant, Judge Morgan.
How did you become interested in First Amendment cases?
I got thrown into the deep end of First Amendment and media law in my earliest days of private practice. My mentor, Conrad Shumadine, would ask, “Are you ready to practice real law?” just before sending me off to court (to try) to get access to a courtroom or to quash a subpoena to a reporter. My passion grew as I spent time working with the reporters and editors who, without exception, try to inform the public, hold government accountable and improve the democratic process.
What has been your most memorable case?
I recently concluded a trade secrets case involving 19 defendants, including four major Chinese companies. We ultimately settled favorably with one set of Chinese defendants and obtained a $121 million default judgment against the remaining Chinese company. My most memorable experience practicing “real law” came years before trying to get access to a jury view of the defendants’ car during the D.C. sniper trial. I learned that practicing “real law” can mean getting rejected by the deputy, tracking down the court administrator, submitting a hand-written objection, asking for a hearing, and prevailing without ever seeing the judge.