Reports Legal Elite

Consistency amid change

Longtime honorees are recognized along with the 2017 class

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A lot has changed since December 2000 when Virginia Business began publishing the Legal Elite, an annual list of top lawyers picked by their peers.

The 9/11 terrorists’ attacks in 2001 led to U.S. involvement in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that continue to this day.

Social media have become a part of everyday life since the launch of Facebook in 2004 and Twitter in 2006.

Barack Obama was elected the nation’s first African-American president in 2008 and re-elected in 2012.

Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman and reality television star, won the presidency last year in his first campaign for elective office.

While the past 17 years have seen a lot of change, 26 Virginia lawyers have been consistent in one important area. They have been on the Legal Elite list every year since it started (click here to see more). The longtime honorees were identified by a database recently compiled by Senior Editor Jessica Sabbath and Special Projects Editor Veronica Garabelli with the help of interns Greg Kremer, Emma Thom and Siona Peterous.

One of the lawyers among the longtime honorees is Andrea Stiles, whose family law practice has been affected by social change since the beginning of this century.

“There’s a whole new generation that is not getting married but having children anyway, and we now have legalized same-sex marriage,” she says. “Those are just two of the recent dynamic changes in family law.”

Meanwhile, this year’s class of the Legal Elite list includes the names of more than 1,000 lawyers, roughly a quarter of the more than 4,000 attorneys nominated. About 1,400 lawyers submitted ballots in voting that took place last summer.

The Legal Elite attorneys are divided into 18 specialties. One representative from each group is profiled on the following pages. Lawyers who have been profiled in the past are not considered.

The profiles reveal interesting details about the lawyers’ careers. While some trials are described as circuses, William B. Porter, a civil litigation attorney who is the managing partner of Blankingship & Keith in Fairfax, once represented an international circus in a breach of contract claim with a horse act from the Czech Republic.

The case required him to travel, following “the circus all over the country to investigate the issues and interview the witnesses.”

That’s the kind of persistence that longtime Legal Elite honorees would applaud.

Elite leaders Twenty-six lawyers have made the list every year since 2000 by Joan Tupponce

Alternative Dispute Resolution
     Jack W. “JB” Burtch Jr., Burtch Law PLLC, Richmond

Appellate Law
     Gary A. Bryant, Willcox & Savage PC, Norfolk

Bankruptcy/Creditors’ Rights
     Paula Steinhilber Beran, Tavenner & Beran PLC, Richmond

Business Law
     Eric Wechselblatt, Holland & Knight LLP, Tysons

Civil Litigation
     William B. Porter, Blankingship & Keith PC, Fairfax

Construction Law
     Kristan Boyd Burch, Kaufman & Canoles PC, Norfolk

Corporate Counsel
     Ute Heidenreich, Towne 1031 Exchange LLC, Suffolk

Criminal Law
     Larry B. Slipow, Slipow, Robusto & Kellam PC, Virginia Beach

Environmental Law
     Jim Lang, Pender & Coward, Virginia Beach

Family Law/Domestic Relations
     Harris Wayne Leiner, Barnes & Diehl PC, Richmond

Health Law
     Emily Munro Scott, Hirschler Fleischer, Richmond

Intellectual Property
     Zachary D. Cohen, ThompsonMcMullan PC, Richmond

Labor/Employment Law
     Edward Lee “Eddie” Isler, IslerDare PC, Tysons Corner, Richmond

Legal Services/Pro Bono
     David S. Mercer, MercerTrigiani, Alexandria

     Jason J. Ham, Litten & Sipe LLP, Harrisonburg

Real Estate/Land Use
     Jennifer Mullen, Roth Jackson Gibbons Condlin PLC, Richmond

Taxes/Estates/Trusts/Elder Law
     Alexander I. Saunders, Woods Rogers PLC, Roanoke

Young Lawyers
     Nupur Sidhu Bal, DeFazio Bal, Richmond

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