MANAGING PARTNER, RICHMOND OFFICE; WILLIAMS MULLEN, RICHMOND
In 1999, Aghdami joined Williams Mullen and became managing partner at the firm’s Richmond office in 2015. Focusing on wealth transfer tax, business succession and income tax planning, he counsels high net-worth individuals and families, middle-market business owners, institutional fiduciaries, family offices and charitable entities.
As an active member of the Richmond community, he serves on the boards of the Medical College of Virginia Foundation, Venture Richmond and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Foundation. He also serves as general counsel for the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond.
In 2019, he became the Virginia state chair for the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. The Wake Forest law grad also serves on the board of directors of the Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia, a mutual property and casualty insurance company.
FIRST JOB: Summer camp counselor, Camp Virginia
BEVERAGE OF CHOICE: West-Coast-style IPAs
FAVORITE VACATION DESTINATION(S): Skiing in Utah or hiking in Yosemite
ELLIOTT M. BUCKNER
PRESIDENT, VIRGINIA TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION; PARTNER, BREIT CANTOR GRANA BUCKNER, RICHMOND
As a name partner at Henrico County-based law firm Breit Cantor Grana Buckner, Buckner specializes in personal injury law and wrongful death claims. During his 20 years of experience, he has secured more than 45 verdicts and reached settlements of more than $1 million for his clients. Buckner credits this to his previous experience as an insurance defense attorney, protecting insurance companies from liability.
In March, he became the fourth person from his law firm to be named president of the 2,000-member Virginia Trial Lawyers Association. He has authored articles and delivered lectures and presentations about personal injury and wrongful death cases.
Also focusing on personal injury in his philanthropic life, Buckner serves on the board of directors of Richmond-based nonprofit Community Brain Injury Services and co-chairs the Brain Injury Association of America’s National Legal Conference, which raises awareness and promotes research of brain injuries. As “pit master,” Buckner once hosted the association’s annual charity BBQ, which raised more than $100,000 for the organization.
Buckner is a William & Mary Law School grad and University of Richmond alum.
BRIAN L. BUNIVA
PRESIDENT, VIRGINIA STATE BAR; PRINCIPAL, B.L. BUNIVA STRATEGIC ADVISOR PLLC, RICHMOND
A veteran attorney with almost 40 years of experience, Buniva is the Virginia State Bar’s 2020-21 president. He began his career in the Virginia Attorney General’s Office as an administrative law and environmental litigator and was later a vice president and shareholder for nearly 10 years at former Richmond-based legal giant LeClairRyan, which dissolved in 2019 with the firm’s bankruptcy.
Buniva served as senior counsel and senior director of environmental health and safety for international manufacturing company Sequa Corp. before starting his own legal consulting firm, Buniva Strategic Advisor, in 2017. His firm provides legal advice, representation and aid with a focus on land use development, federal, state and local agencies and environmental law.
Prior to his election as Virginia State Bar president, he served on the executive committee of its governing body, the Bar Council. He has chaired the administrative law and environmental law sections for the Virginia State Bar and the Virginia Bar Association. He was previously co-chair of the state bar’s special committee on bench-bar relations. The Georgetown graduate earned his juris doctorate from the University of Richmond.
VICTOR O. CARDWELL
PRINCIPAL AND CHAIRMAN, WOODS ROGERS PLC, ROANOKE
As well as serving as chairman of Woods Rogers’ board of directors, Cardwell is co-chair of the firm’s labor and employment law section, focusing on labor/management relations, diversity and the Fair Labor Standards Act. He also chairs the board of governors of the Virginia Bar Association and the state bar’s board of governors for its diversity conference, and has given legal counsel to numerous nonprofit organizations in the Roanoke region. He was previously deputy associate chief counsel with the U.S. Department of Labor Benefits Review Board. He also serves on the boards of the Bradley Free Clinic and the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges.
EDUCATION: University of Virginia (B.A.), Washington & Lee University (J.D.)
FAVORITE SONG: Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind”
ONE THING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT VIRGINIA: I am such a fan of the commonwealth that there is little that I would change, but I do think there are opportunities to address our history in a contextual way. Virginia has a history with slavery and I think we can, as a state, find a way to address these issues that shine a light on that past and make it relevant to today’s current events.
SENIOR PARTNER AND FORMER CHAIRMAN, MCGUIREWOODS LLP, RICHMOND
Cullen was chairman of McGuireWoods LLP,
Virginia’s largest law firm, for 11 I years and stepped down in late 2017, but he remains an integral figure at the firm, representing clients such as Vice President Mike Pence (in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election) and former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter, who resigned amid an international corruption scandal.
Cullen served as Virginia attorney general from 1997 to 1998 and was U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia during President George H.W. Bush’s administration. Cullen also was on President George W. Bush’s legal team during the 2000 election recount in Florida.
During Cullen’s tenure as chairman, McGuireWoods expanded from 750 to 1,100 attorneys, opening offices in California, Texas, London and Shanghai. He serves on the board of trustees at South Carolina’s Furman University, where he is an alumnus and former football player, and he has served on other boards and committees, including at Virginia Military Institute and the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business Foundation. Cullen received his law degree from the University of Richmond School of Law, where he was editor-in-chief of the law review.
ROBERT L. DEWEY
MANAGING PARTNER, WILLCOX SAVAGE, NORFOLK
Dewey is managing partner of Willcox Savage, which celebrated its 125th anniversary this year and is the ninth-largest law firm in the commonwealth. His practice focuses on commercial real estate, has represented The Kroger Co. and Wegmans Food Markets and was lead counsel for the leasing of office and retail space in Norfolk’s Wells Fargo Center. He has also represented Fortune 500 companies and major retailers, negotiating anchor tenant leases.
As a mid-size law firm, Willcox Savage currently employs 65 attorneys. The firm also has locations in Virginia Beach and Tysons.
He has always worked for Willcox Savage, joining the firm nearly 40 years ago, and has previously been named as the “Norfolk Real Estate Lawyer of the Year,” by Best Lawyers in America.
Dewey also chaired the Old Dominion University Real Estate Foundation’s board of trustees and structured a 75-year ground lease for a $52 million private housing development for students.
Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Dewey is a graduate of the University of Delaware and the University of North Carolina’s law school. He is also a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team and collects baseball autographs.
CALVIN W. ‘WOODY’ FOWLER JR.
CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD, PRESIDENT AND CEO, WILLIAMS MULLEN, RICHMOND
The head of Virginia’s third-largest law firm since 2015, Fowler specializes in business litigation and serves as an arbitrator and mediator.
During his 33-year career, he has served a wide variety of industry clients, including universities, health care systems, insurance companies, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
He defended Sweet Briar College in multiple lawsuits after the college announced its closure in 2015.
He also serves on the boards of Richmond Sports Backers, the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. He is former board chair of the Richmond metro branch of the American Heart Association,. Williams Mullen has 346 employees in Virginia and its 2019 revenue was $140 million.
EDUCATION: University of Virginia (B.A., J.D.)
WHAT WOULD A COMPETITOR SAY ABOUT YOU? “He is honest and direct. He gets things accomplished. His fellow attorneys and staff at Williams Mullen respect him.”
FIRST JOB: Making tire treads at a Goodyear plant
FAVORITE APP: Weather apps. My wife makes fun of me for this.
THOMAS R. FRANTZ
CHAIRMAN EMERITUS AND PARTNER,WILLIAMS MULLEN, VIRGINIA BEACH
The former chairman, CEO and president of the state’s third-largest law firm, Frantz is chairman of the GO Region 5 Council, the Hampton Roads branch of the state-financed initiative to promote economic development and business growth. The firm’s former president and CEO, he represents multinational corporations handling mergers and acquisitions. He also serves on boards and executive committees for Reinvent Hampton Roads and the Hampton Roads Business Roundtable. He sat on William & Mary’s board of visitors for nine years and currently serves on the university’s Real Estate Foundation. Frantz also was named King Neptune XXIII at the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival, which he directed.
EDUCATION: William & Mary (B.A., J.D. and L.L.M.)
BEST ADVICE: From my work in numerous blue-collar jobs when I was younger, and white-collar and professional jobs as I have grown older, I believe in walking the halls of places of employment and treating all others with dignity and with respect.
FIRST JOB: Working in an orchard at age 14, picking peaches, apples and cherries.
RISA L. GOLUBOFF
DEAN, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA SCHOOL OF LAW; ARNOLD H. LEON PROFESSOR OF LAW, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, U.VA., CHARLOTTESVILLE
On July 1, 2015, Goluboff became the first female dean of the University of Virginia School of Law, after working as a professor there since 2002. Before her time with U.Va., she was a Fulbright Scholar and clerked for Justice Stephen Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Her career in law and history has focused on civil rights and constitutional law, and she has written two books, “The Lost Promise of Civil Rights,” published in 2007, and “Vagrant Nation: Police Power, Constitutional Change, and the Making of the 1960s,” published in 2016. Both books have earned awards from law and historical organizations.
At U.Va., she is both a law and history professor, and has received the law school’s Carl McFarland Prize and the university’s All-University Teaching Award. Just prior to her selection as dean, she directed the university’s J.D.-M.A. in History Program.
Goluboff is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.
DOUGLAS S. GRANGER
MANAGING PARTNER, RICHMOND OFFICE, HUNTON ANDREWS KURTH LLP, RICHMOND
With a focus on corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions, Granger has worked extensively with U.K.-based companies and was the lead attorney in W.S. Atkins plc’s 2015 $318 million acquisition of EnergySolutions’ Projects, Products and Technology affiliate, as well as Stock Building Supply Holdings Inc.’s $1.5 billion merger with Building Materials Holding Corp. the same year. He also represents clients with business/corporate securities and
corporate finance issues.
Having started at Virginia’s second-largest law firm (then Hunton & Williams) as a summer associate in 1984, Granger was appointed managing partner of the firm’s Richmond office in 2017. The Richmond office employs a total of 450 employees, including 225 attorneys.
A Richmond native, he is a graduate of William & Mary and the University of Virginia School of Law and has served on boards for the American Heart Association and the Maymont Foundation. He has also served on the boards of the Tuckahoe YMCA and Avalon Recreation Association and volunteers with United Way, the YWCA and the Boy Scouts. The father of four also has coached football, basketball and baseball.
ROGER L. GREGORY
CHIEF JUDGE, U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT, RICHMOND
In 2000, Gregory was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the first Black person to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which includes the states of Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Less than a year later, he became the first person to be appointed to a federal appellate court by two presidents of different political parties when President George W. Bush commissioned his lifetime appointment.
Prior to his appointment, Gregory co-founded Richmond-based law firm Wilder & Gregory with L. Douglas Wilder, who would become the first African American person to be elected a U.S. governor.
In 2001, Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist appointed Gregory to serve on the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Commission.
A graduate of Virginia State University and the University of Michigan Law School, Gregory is a trustee emeritus for the University of Richmond. He has served on the boards of several organizations, including the Industrial Development Authority of Richmond, Leadership Metro Richmond and ChildFund International.
Gregory is a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the policy making body for the federal courts.
MARGARET F. HARDY
SHAREHOLDER, PRESIDENT; SANDS ANDERSON PC, FREDERICKSBURG
President of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association, Hardy joined Richmond-based Sands Anderson PC more than 20 years ago as a summer associate and became the firm’s president in 2017.
Also a registered nurse, Hardy focuses her practice on medical malpractice actions and investigations and Virginia Department of Health Professions proceedings.
Outside the firm, Hardy serves on the board of trustees for Mary Washington Healthcare and is a board member for nonprofit foster care organization UMFS. She is also a hobby farmer of Angora goats, using their fleece for spinning and hand-dyeing yarn for fiber art and weaving.
EDUCATION: Johnston-Willis Hospital School of Nursing, University of Richmond (B.S.), Old Dominion University (MBA), William & Mary (J.D.)
WHAT WOULD A COMPETITOR SAY ABOUT YOU? Hopefully, that I zealously represent my client while being respectful and trustworthy.
PERSON I ADMIRE: Eleanor Roosevelt — she stood up for what she believed in, even in the face of adversity.
JONATHAN P. HARMON
CHAIRMAN, MCGUIREWOODS LLP, RICHMOND
In December 2017, Harmon took the helm of Virginia’s largest law firm, with 1,100 attorneys and 21 offices, including London and Shanghai. With $853.5 million in 2019 revenues, McGuireWoods ranks 50th on The American Lawyer’s 2020 Am Law 200 list. Harmon is the first Black chairman of the firm, where he led the business securities litigation department, representing Fortune 500 clients. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he is a Gulf War veteran who served in the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division. He also has volunteered for Faith Landmarks Ministries for years, leading Bible study classes for prisoners. In June, as protests against racial injustice took place across the nation, Harmon wrote a deeply personal op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal recounting a cross-burning that took place in his mostly white Long Island neighborhood during his youth. “It is a privilege to lead,” he wrote in the piece, noting that “when leadership turns to arrogance, bad outcomes are almost sure to follow.” Harmon received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and participates in a mentorship program for Richmond and Petersburg high school students who are interested in legal careers.
BRANT J. HELLWIG
DEAN, PROFESSOR OF LAW, WASHINGTON AND LEE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW, LEXINGTON
Hellwig served for three years as a professor of law at Washington and Lee University before being named dean in 2015. Specializing in federal taxation, he teaches courses including federal income taxation of individuals, partnership taxation, corporate taxation and estate and gift taxation. Before his time as dean, he also served as chair of the faculty appointments committee and was a member of the board of trustees task force working group.
The Wake Forest University graduate (B.S., J.D.) started his career at Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Bell, Davis & Pitt P.A., then served as law clerk to Senior Judge Juan F. Vasquez of the U.S. Tax Court. Hellwig started his academic career at New York University as an assistant professor and then moved to the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he taught for 10 years.
Along with fellow W&L law professor Robert Danforth, he has published a casebook, “Estate and Gift Taxation,” and completed the manuscript, “The United States Tax Court: An Historical Analysis,” which was commissioned by the U.S. Tax Court.
JOHN ‘JACK’ LAVOIE
PARTNER IN CHARGE — RESTON, COOLEY LLP, RESTON
Lavoie joined the $1.3 billion Palo Alto, California-based law firm Cooley LLP in 2008 and focuses his practice on real estate transactions at the firm’s Reston office. During the past 12 years, he has represented landlords, tenants, lenders and borrowers in the Washington, D.C., area and mid-Atlantic region. In 2020, Cooley was ranked No. 13 on Fortune’s Best Workplaces for Consulting and Professional Services. In 2020, Cooley was ranked No. 13 on Fortune’s Best Workplaces for Consulting and Professional Services.
Lavoie serves as the head of Cooley’s real estate practice group, representing clients such as Alarm.com, Politico and Raytheon, as well as the owners of some of the largest malls in the Washington, D.C., region. He is general counsel to the Northern Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks. He is also a member of the Greater Washington Commercial Association of Realtors.
The Georgetown University law grad earned his bachelor’s degree from The Catholic University of America, where he befriended future Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Lavoie served on McAuliffe’s transition committee when he was elected governor.
DONALD W. LEMONS
CHIEF JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT OF VIRGINIA, RICHMOND
Lemons was selected by his fellow justices as chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court in 2015, after serving 15 years on the state’s highest court.
After graduating from the University of Virginia, he started his career in 1971 as a probation officer for the Fairfax County Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court. Following his 1976 graduation from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served for two years as an assistant dean and assistant professor of law.
He spent 18 years in private practice before his 1995 appointment as a judge for the Richmond Circuit Court, where he was a pioneer in bringing drug courts to Virginia. The Virginia General Assembly elected him to the Court of Appeals of Virginia in 1998.
Since 2008, Lemons has been the Distinguished Professor of Judicial Studies at the Washington and Lee University School of Law and was formerly the A.L. Philpott Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Richmond’s law school.
As former president of the American Inns of Court, in 2019 he received the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Award for Professionalism and Ethics.
VINCENT J. MASTRACCO JR.
PARTNER AND CO-CHAIR OF REAL ESTATE STRATEGIES GROUP, KAUFMAN & CANOLES PC, NORFOLK
Mastracco has practiced law at Kaufman & Canoles for more than half of its 100-year history. At the firm, he also co-chairs the real estate strategies group.
A business attorney, he was reappointed to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s board of directors in 2020 and has served on myriad Hampton Roads boards, including those of the Sentara Foundation, Eastern Virginia Medical School Foundation and Virginia Wesleyan University. He also serves on the board of directors for the Hampton Roads Community Foundation and has been a member of the executive committee for the Hampton Roads Business Roundtable.
He chaired the VEDP board in 2018, the year the partnership played a significant role in bringing Amazon.com Inc.’s $2.5 billion HQ2 East Coast headquarters to Arlington. Mastracco’s father was an Italian immigrant who founded the Giant Open Air Market supermarket chain based in Norfolk, where Mastracco grew up.
He holds degrees from the University of Virginia, the University of Richmond and New York University.
ALISON M. McKEE
PRESIDENT, VIRGINIA BAR ASSOCIATION; OF COUNSEL, KAUFMAN & CANOLES PC, VIRGINIA BEACH
After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1984, McKee began practicing at Hunton & Williams (now Hunton Andrews Kurth), making partner in less than a decade.
In 2001, the Long Island native took time off while raising her four children, but she returned to practice as an attorney at Kaufman & Canoles in 2008. Today her practice is focused on banking and finance, commercial real estate and senior housing matters.
McKee in January became the fourth woman president of the Virginia Bar Association, a voluntary membership organization created by Virginia attorneys to promote legislative changes and offer continuing education opportunities. She has been a member since 1984. She has co-chaired the VBA Business Law Section’s Third-Party Legal Opinions Report Committee and served as vice chair of the VBA Business Law Section. She has been on the VBA Board of Governors since 2016.
FIRST JOB: Lifeguard and swimming instructor
HOBBY/PASSION: Downhill skiing and watching my sons play lacrosse
BEST ADVICE: Be patient and willing to adapt.
NEW LIFE EXPERIENCE RECENTLY: New grandmother as of March 2020! Wonderful!!
MONICA T. MONDAY
MANAGING PARTNER, GENTRY LOCKE, ROANOKE
In 2013, Monday became the first female lawyer to lead a large law firm in Virginia. She started at Gentry Locke 20 years earlier as a full-time lawyer — and became a partner within six. Now Monday heads the firm’s appellate practice.
The Virginia Bar Association appellate practice section chair also leads Gentry Locke’s management committee, overseeing firm operations and strategies, including its organizational structure, budget, business development and recruiting. Monday has been recognized as one of Virginia’s top 50 women lawyers and has been a fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation, the Roanoke Law Foundation and the American Bar Association.
Outside the office, she chairs the finance committee of The Harvest Foundation and is a member of the Judicial Council of Virginia.
EDUCATION: William & Mary (B.A., J.D.)
NEW LIFE EXPERIENCE RECENTLY: Having lunch every day with my family at home during COVID-19 remote working
PERSON I ADMIRE: I have always admired people who have overcome physical disabilities to achieve great things; Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ludwig van Beethoven are two at the top of my list.
THURSTON R. MOORE
CHAIRMAN EMERITUS AND SPECIAL COUNSEL, HUNTON ANDREWS KURTH LLP, RICHMOND
Moore, who focuses on corporate and securities law, served as chairman of Hunton Andrews Kurth’s executive committee from 2005 to 2012, and was the managing partner of Virginia’s second-largest law firm from 1991 to 2006.
The Richmond native is also chairman of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation board of trustees and chairs the board of NextUp RVA, an after-school program for Richmond middle school students. He serves as president and a trustee of the Richmond-based Mary Morton Parsons Foundation and has also served on the boards of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and Venture Richmond, among other organizations.
Moore is a double ’Hoo (a nickname for holders of two degrees from the University of Virginia) and was honored as an American Bar Foundation and Virginia Law Foundation fellow.
In January, writing for the Colonial Williamsburg quarterly magazine, Moore advocated for the historic site to “enter the fray” of current public discussions regarding personal liberty, the right to privacy, equality and immigration. “This city, as we know, has always been a place of dialogue and fierce debate,” he wrote.
RICHARD H. OTTINGER
PRESIDENT-ELECT, VIRGINIA BAR ASSOCIATION; PARTNER, VANDEVENTER BLACK LLP, NORFOLK
In January, Ottinger was elected to Vandeventer Black’s executive board. He specializes in commercial litigation, transportation and maritime litigation and complex trusts and estates disputes, representing clients ranging from international manufacturing companies to small partnerships.
As president-elect of the Virginia Bar Association, he will lead the legal advocacy and volunteer service group in 2021, following current VBA President Alison M. McKee’s term. Ottinger has received the Virginia State Bar’s R. Edwin Burnette Jr. Young Lawyer of the Year award, the Norfolk & Portsmouth Bar Association’s Walter E. Hoffman Community Service Award and the Virginia Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Sandra P. Thompson Award.
In 2015, Ottinger ran as a GOP candidate for the Virginia State Senate’s 6th District seat, which was held by Gov. Ralph Northam from 2008 to 2014. Ottinger was defeated by incumbent state Sen. Lynwood Lewis Jr., D-Accomack.
He remains a busy and prominent figure in the Hampton Roads community, serving on the board of directors of the Norfolk Economic Development Authority, as proctor in admiralty for the Maritime Law Association, counsel to the Tidewater Motor Truck Association and is a board member of the Downtown Norfolk Council.
COURTNEY MOATES PAULK
PRESIDENT, HIRSCHLER, RICHMOND
Head of Hirschler’s litigation section, Paulk’s focus is on construction. She advises developers and contractors on claims and dispute resolution, as well as negotiating and drafting contracts, among other areas, and was appointed the first female president of the 74-year-old law firm in 2018. With just over 80 attorneys, Hirschler has offices in Richmond, Fredericksburg and Tysons.
A University of Mary Washington and University of Richmond School of Law graduate, Paulk has another feather in her (swim) cap as the world’s first “Triple Triple” marathon swimmer. Since 2013, Paulk has swum the open-water “Triple Crown” — crossing the English Channel and the Catalina Channel, and circling Manhattan — three times each. Only five people have completed two Triple Crowns. She has swum for more than 30 hours straight and was bitten by a sea lion during one of her Catalina crossings.
Paulk volunteers with SwimRVA, serves on the board of Richmond Sports Backers and is counsel for the Greater Richmond Aquatics Partnership’s board of directors. She is a member of the Associated General Contractors and is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation.
JOHN M. RAMIREZ
MANAGING PARTNER, VIRGINIA BEACH OFFICE, TROUTMAN PEPPER, VIRGINIA BEACH
In 2008, Ramirez joined the law firm with the fourth-largest presence in Virginia, Atlanta-based Troutman Sanders LLP. Four years later, he became managing partner of the firm’s Virginia Beach office. On July 1, Troutman Sanders merged with Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP, becoming Troutman Pepper. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Richmond School of Law.
Ramirez focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions, venture capital transactions, general corporate and limited liability company matters, joint ventures, commercial finance transactions and licensing transactions. Before joining Troutman Pepper, he worked with Norfolk-based Cooper, Spong & Davis PC and Baltimore-based Venable LLP. He also clerked for the chief staff attorney’s office at the Supreme Court of Virginia.
In 2008, he was selected to participate in the CIVIC Leadership Institute in Norfolk. Each year, only 50 local executives are tapped for the eight-month program focused on civic service and community impact in the Hampton Roads region. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and his juris doctorate from the University of Richmond School of Law.
LAURA FOOTE REIFF
CO-MANAGING SHAREHOLDER — NORTHERN VIRGINIA OFFICE, GREENBERG TRAURIG LLP, MCLEAN
As co-chair of the firm’s business immigration and compliance practice, Reiff focuses her practice on business immigration laws affecting U.S. and foreign companies.
She joined the $1.6 billion international law firm in 1999 after earning her juris doctorate from The George Washington University Law School.
Reiff serves as legal counsel for the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, a business alliance group she co-founded and previously chaired. She’s well acquainted with Capitol Hill players and the legislative process through her work with EWIC, which advocates for immigration laws on behalf of businesses that rely on less-skilled and unskilled immigrant labor. She also co-chairs the EB-5 Investment Coalition, a business-led coalition aimed at strengthening the federal EB-5 visa program, which allows immigrant investors to become permanent U.S. residents by financing businesses and employing American workers. Additionally, she is a former member of the board of trustees for the American Immigration Law Foundation (now the American Immigration Council).
Reiff was featured in five episodes of “How Democracy Works Now,” a 12-part HBO series that aired in 2010 that shows the American political system through the lens of immigration reform.
F. DOUGLAS ROSS
MANAGING SHAREHOLDER, ODIN, FELDMAN & PITTLEMAN PC, RESTON
With more than 30 years of courtroom experience, Ross focuses his practice on banking, real estate, title insurance, shareholder and partnership disputes and defamation law.
The George Washington University law graduate tries cases in Virginia state courts and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
As the firm’s managing shareholder, he oversees an office of more than 60 attorneys. Ross holds an AV rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, the highest rating given to lawyers demonstrating high ethical standards and professionalism.
Odin, Feldman & Pittleman is ranked as a Tier 1 law firm by U.S. News and World Report for several of its business law practice areas, including commercial litigation, employment law, real estate law and bankruptcy law.
BRUCE C. SAMS
PRESIDENT, OLD DOMINION BAR ASSOCIATION; ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICE OF BRUCE C. SAMS, NORFOLK
In June, Sams became president of the Old Dominion Bar Association (ODBA), a professional organization for Black lawyers in Virginia. During the past 30 years, the ODBA has worked to appoint Black lawyers to judgeships across the state.
The Norfolk-based attorney has been practicing for nearly 40 years, mostly focusing on child custody cases and divorce and family law. He operates his own practice, the Law Office of Bruce C. Sams, and
is a court-appointed defense attorney for Norfolk Circuit Court.
From 2016 to 2018, Sams represented Clayton Pressley III, a decorated ex-Navy sailor in a high-profile case heavily covered by Hampton Roads media. His client was found guilty in a $2.3 million fraud scheme involving his subordinates. However, Pressley was sent to prison for only two years after Sams asked the court for a lenient sentence, arguing that his client was struggling with mental health issues at the time of the crime.
Sams is a Howard University School of Law graduate and is also a member of the South Hampton Roads Bar Association.
KATHERINE J. SEIKALY
MANAGING PARTNER, TYSONS OFFICE; REED SMITH LLP, MCLEAN
Less than four years after earning her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, Seikaly moved from her first job practicing as an attorney at Bryan Cave LLP to $1.17 billion global law firm Reed Smith LLP. In her practice today, she focuses on government and internal investigations, regulatory compliance and enforcement matters.
In 2019, Seikaly co-led counsel in defense of corporate defendant Concord Management & Consulting LLC, which was indicted by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller for conspiracy to defraud the United States. Concord was one of two major Russian firms charged by Mueller’s team with interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
Seikaly has been named on Virginia Lawyers Weekly’s Influential Women of Law list. In her Tysons office, she leads a #SeeHer movement, which encourages gender diversity and inclusion. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from the University of Colorado.
PHILIPPE JEAN CLAUDE SIGNORE
MANAGING PARTNER, OBLON, MCCLELLAND, MAIER & NEUSTADT LLP, ALEXANDRIA
Signore, who earned a doctorate in physics before switching careers, manages Alexandria-based Oblon, one of the nation’s largest firms focused on intellectual property law. He counsels clients on patent strategies, including monetization and litigation, working with clients in fields such as energy, software and artificial intelligence. He has won several national awards for his work in electrical and mechanical patents, and he has taught patent law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School, as well as serving on the faculty at the Centre for International IP Studies in France. His physics research focused on temperature-dependent superconducting materials, and at Tennessee, he played tennis on the varsity team.
EDUCATION: University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (B.S.), University of Florida (Ph.D.), Georgetown University (J.D.)
NEW LIFE EXPERIENCE RECENTLY: Homeschooling my 3-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son
BEVERAGE OF CHOICE: Red wine, especially after homeschooling the kids
MOST RECENT BOOK READ: “The Great Influenza,” by John M. Barry
BROOKS M. SMITH
MANAGING PARTNER, RICHMOND OFFICE, TROUTMAN PEPPER, RICHMOND
After 13 years working for Richmond-based law firm Hunton & Williams (now Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP), Smith joined Atlanta-based Troutman Sanders LLP (now Troutman Pepper) — the law firm with the fourth-largest presence in Virginia.
Smith focuses his practice on environmental, health and safety law. He has worked with clients on controversial energy projects including major interstate pipeline permits and citizen suits involving coal ash storage and disposal. He advises federal and state trade associations, advocating before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He is also part of the law firm’s COVID-19 Task Force, focused on helping clients mitigate challenges associated with the pandemic.
In Richmond, he has served both environmental- and arts-focused organizations. He is currently a board member of Art on Wheels, The Valentine museum, Richmond Jazz Society and Richmond CultureWorks. He is a board of trustees member and former chair of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Rice Rivers Center for Environmental Life Sciences. He also served on ChamberRVA’s Richmond Business Council Cabinet.
FIRST JOB: Ice cream scooper at an ice cream shop in Annapolis, Maryland
FAVORITE APP: Headspace
WHAT I’VE LEARNED: Preparation is everything.
FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM: Baltimore Orioles (My namesake is Brooks Robinson.)
A. BENJAMIN SPENCER
DEAN, CHANCELLOR PROFESSOR OF LAW, WILLIAM & MARY LAW SCHOOL, WILLIAMSBURG
Spencer became dean of the law school at the nation’s second-oldest university on July 1, and also serves as Chancellor Professor of Law. Before joining W&M, Spencer was U.Va.’s Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished Professor of Law. He was also previously the Bennett Boskey Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.
Before U.Va., Spencer worked as director of the Frances Lewis Law Center and associate dean for research at Washington and Lee University. He started his career teaching at the University of Richmond School of Law. His scholarship focuses on civil procedure, federal civil litigation and military law.
Spencer is a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He also serves on multiple committees for the Virginia State Bar and the Virginia Bar Association.
His father is retired U.S. District Court Senior Judge James R. Spencer.
HOBBY/PASSION: My passion is my family (wife and nine children) and spending time with them.
PERSON I ADMIRE: Harriet Tubman, for her vision, courage, persistence, determination, empathy, grit, sense of mission, divine inspiration and deep connection with God
MOST RECENT BOOK READ: “Black Fortunes: The Story of the First Six African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires,” by Shomari Wills
MICHAEL LAURENCE STERLING
MANAGING PARTNER, VANDEVENTER BLACK LLP, NORFOLK
Fourth-term managing partner Sterling has been with the Norfolk-based law firm since earning his juris doctorate from William & Mary in 1985. His practice is focused on construction and he represents general contractors, subcontractors, vendors, manufacturers and designers.
At the firm, he has served on the executive board and chaired the firm’s construction and government contracts practice group and practice management committee. He has served also as the chairman of the Virginia Bar Association Construction and Public Contract Law Executive Council and the Vandeventer Black Foundation.
His philanthropic interests lie in Hampton Roads, where he serves on the board of directors of Eggleston Services, a nonprofit organization providing services for persons with disabilities. For several years, he also served on the boards of the Red Cross of Southeastern Virginia and the Norfolk & Portsmouth Bar Association.
WHAT WOULD A COMPETITOR SAY ABOUT YOU? “Fair, honest and tough”
BEVERAGE OF CHOICE: A cold beer
BEST ADVICE: You reap what you sow.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT VIRGINIA? Expand public transportation.
DANIEL C. SUMMERLIN III
PRINCIPAL AND PRESIDENT, WOODS ROGERS PLC, ROANOKE
A Roanoke native, Summerlin has worked at Woods Rogers since 1997 and was named president of the firm in 2015. His present work focuses on environmental compliance, but he also has worked in the areas of criminal defense, government investigations and employment law, often offering guidance on human resources issues and litigation. The 127-year-old firm is among Virginia’s top 10 largest, with offices in Roanoke, Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Richmond. Summerlin graduated from the University of North Carolina and William & Mary Law School. He serves on the executive board of Roanoke’s Council of Community Services and as president of Roanoke Valley Swimming Inc. In 2019, Summerlin’s team won the Subaru Ironman Mont-Tremblant relay in Quebec, in which he rode a bicycle 112 miles.
ROBERT M. ‘BOB’ TATA
MANAGING PARTNER, NORFOLK OFFICE, HUNTON ANDREWS KURTH LLP, NORFOLK
The managing partner of his firm’s Norfolk office, Tata focuses on commercial and intellectual property litigation. In 2001, he won X-IT Products vs. Walter Kidde, a patent trade secrets case — which was then the largest jury verdict in Virginia history at $116 million.
He served on the Old Dominion University Board of Visitors from 2013 to 2019. Tata currently serves on the Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia board and is a past president of the Virginia Beach Bar Association. He has chaired the Virginia Beach General Assembly Delegation’s Judicial Recommendation Panel for almost 10 years and also serves on the board for the Greater Norfolk Corp. While at the Naval Academy, he set several school records as placekicker on the football team.
EDUCATION: U.S. Naval Academy (B.S.); Old Dominion University (MBA); University of Virginia School of Law (J.D.)
BEVERAGE OF CHOICE: Bourbon, particularly some good friends’ rare finds
FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM: In addition to my kids’ teams — Cocoa Puffs, Wanna Bees, Horned Frogs, etc. — my Navy Midshipmen, ODU Monarchs and Virginia Cavaliers
CARL W. TOBIAS
WILLIAMS PROFESSOR OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND SCHOOL OF LAW, RICHMOND
A well-known, sought-after commentator on legal issues of the day, Tobias is frequently quoted by national media outlets, including CNBC, The Washington Post and USA Today. He also has written literally hundreds of op-eds that have run in publications such as the Los Angeles Times and Politico.
In 2016, Tobias became the Williams Professor of Law, a distinguished, endowed chair position within the University of Richmond’s School of Law. Tobias currently teaches torts, products liability and constitutional law.
Before his career in academia, he was a legal consultant to the Food and Drug Administration and the American Bar Association’s Commission on the Twenty-First Century Judiciary. He also was a member of district court review committees and advisory groups. Currently, he is a member of the American Law Institute, of which membership is limited to 3,000 total elected members who are judges, lawyers and legal scholars in the United States.
He has written more than 120 law review articles and authored more than 80 essays which have been published in the Stanford, Columbia, California and Cornell law reviews.
WILLIAM R. ‘BILL’ VAN BUREN III
CHAIRMAN, KAUFMAN & CANOLES PC, NORFOLK
A former president of the Virginia Bar Association and the Virginia Law Foundation, Van Buren focuses on mergers and acquisitions, corporate and health care law. His family owned Newport News’ Daily Press newspaper until 1986, when it was sold to Tribune Co., and Van Buren worked as a paper boy and a reporter as a young man. After receiving his law degree in 1981, he joined what was then the Canoles, Mastracco law firm, which merged with Kaufman & Oberndorfer to form Kaufman & Canoles. Van Buren is a trustee of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, as well as serving as vice chair on the board of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
EDUCATION: William & Mary (B.A.), University of Virginia School of Law (J.D.)
PERSON I ADMIRE: Vincent J. Mastracco Jr., my longtime partner and mentor, who always does what is right, especially when others are not looking, and with no personal agenda or need for recognition
MOST RECENT BOOK READ: “Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf,” by Harvey Penick and Bud Shrake
ROBERT R. ‘BOB’ VIETH
PRESIDENT-ELECT, FEDERAL BAR ASSOCIATION — NORTHERN VIRGINIA CHAPTER; PARTNER, HIRSCHLER, TYSONS
With more than 30 years of experience practicing law, Vieth became a partner at the Richmond-based firm in 2016 when Hirschler Fleischer (rebranded in 2018 to simply Hirschler) expanded to Northern Virginia. He and Wayne G. Travell were tapped in late 2015 to lead the firm’s Tysons practices in complex business litigation and alternative dispute resolution.
Before that, Vieth was a partner at Leach Travell Britt PC, Cooley LLP and McGuireWoods. His practice focuses on commercial contracts, mergers and acquisitions, real estate transactions, land use, stockholder rights, corporate governance, fiduciary malfeasance, trade secrets and business torts.
He has practiced in both state and federal courts: the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Virginia state courts, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth and District of Columbia Circuits, the Virginia Supreme Court and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
In October, Vieth will take office as president of the Federal Bar Association —Northern Virginia Chapter, which promotes professional development of attorneys involved in federal law. The Northern Virginia Chapter covers lawyers in 17 Virginia localities.