Reports Legal Elite

Keeping tabs on the economy

Legal Elite lawyers offer perspectives from their specialties

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Bankruptcies are falling, multifamily real estate activity is in high gear, but low interest rates alone won’t get some other construction projects moving.

Those are some of the observations made by members of the 2013 Virginia Legal Elite, a group of 868 lawyers selected by their peers as leading attorneys in 16 categories.

Virginia Business began publishing the list in 2000 in collaboration with the Virginia Bar Association.  This year the magazine emailed electronic ballots to nearly 11,600 Virginia lawyers and provided a ballot on its website. All licensed lawyers in Virginia are eligible to vote.

More than 1,200 attorneys participated in this year’s Legal Elite, submitting 3,348 nominees.  Of those roughly a quarter made the final list.

In the following pages, the magazine profiles a representative from each category. They are selected from the top 10 vote-getters in each group, but they are not necessarily the ones with the most votes. Lawyers who have been profiled in previous years were not eligible.

Legal Elite lawyers have their fingers on the pulse of the state economy. For example, Christopher A. Jones, a partner with Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLP in Falls Church, says bankruptcy filings are falling. “Bankruptcy filings under all chapters are down from 2012, with commercial filings experiencing the largest drop,” he says.  “This trend coincides with the upturn in the general economy.”

In line with that good news, Thomas J. Colucci, a principal with Walsh Colucci Lubeley Emrich & Walsh PC in Arlington, says the Virginia real estate market is showing signs of revival, especially in multifamily residential projects.

“The office market remains somewhat sluggish, and I would anticipate that may continue until there is a little more stability brought to bear on anticipated government spending,” he says.

Robert K. Cox, chair of the Construction Practice Group of Williams Mullen in Tysons Corner, makes a similar point in explaining the influence of low interest rates on construction projects.

“Low interest rates are but one factor in encouraging new construction and alone cannot kickstart construction spending,” he notes.

Cox points out educational facilities make up one of the largest nonresidential building sectors. However, budget constraints and limited growth in the student population “have kept this building sector down despite historically low interest rates.”

In sum, the economy’s getting better, but we aren’t back yet.

Alternative Dispute Resolution
   Leslye S. Fenton, Odin, Feldman & Pittleman PC, Reston

Appellate Law
   Frank K. Friedman, Woods Rogers PLC, Roanoke

Bankruptcy/Creditors' Rights
   Christopher A. Jones, Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLP, Falls Church

Business Law
   George H. Roberts Jr., Wharton Aldhizer & Weaver PLC, Harrisonburg/Lexington

Civil Litigation
   Christopher Malone, ThompsonMcMullan PC, Richmond

Construction Law
   Robert K. Cox, Williams Mullen, Tysons Corner

Criminal Law
   Patrick H. O’Donnell, Kaufman & Canoles PC, Norfolk

Family Law/Domestic Relations
   Mary Burkey Owens, Owen & Owens PLC, Midlothian

Health Law
   Thomas W. Greeson, Reed Smith LLP, Falls Church

Intellectual Property
   Marshall M. Curtis, Whitham, Curtis, Christofferson & Cook PC, Reston

   Lisa A. Bertini, Bertini & Hammer PC, Norfolk

Legal Services/Pro Bono
   Phyllis C. Katz, Sands Anderson PC, Richmond

   Dale G. Mullen, McGuireWoods LLP, Richmond

Real Estate/Land Use
   Thomas J. Colucci, Walsh Colucci Lubeley Emrich & Walsh PC, Arlington

Taxes/Estates/Trusts/Elder Law
   Neil L. Rose, Willcox & Savage PC, Virginia Beach

Young Lawyers
   Gretchen M. Ostroff, Vandeventer Black LLP, Norfolk

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