Va. Bar Association elects first Black president
Victor O. Cardwell to serve as 134th president
The Virginia Bar Association elected Victor O. Cardwell as its first Black president, the organization announced Monday.
Cardwell is a Roanoke-based partner and board chairman of Woods Rogers PLC. He has served as a delegate in the American Bar Association, representing Virginia, and was appointed to Virginia’s Human Rights Council.
“I am proud to be a member of the VBA,” Cardwell wrote in his first letter to the association’s members. “Yet I am smart enough to know that multitudes of lawyers who have gone before me, Black and otherwise, deserved this honor, and I stand on their shoulders.”
Cardwell is the seventh person from Woods Rogers to lead the group. He joined the firm as an associate in Roanoke in 1991 and became a principal in 2006. His practice focuses on labor and employment law, and he is co-chair of the Woods Rogers labor and employment practice group.
“The entire firm is proud to call Victor our colleague and friend. I can’t think of an attorney more suited to serve the VBA as its 134th president,” Dan Summerlin, Woods Rogers president, said in a statement.
“During my 365 days in office, I want the VBA to be seen as the most welcoming and open bar organization in the commonwealth. The VBA must be the bellwether for all lawyers in Virginia,” Cardwell said in a statement.
Cardwell succeeds Richard H. Ottinger, a partner at Vandeventer Black LLP in Norfolk, as president. When Cardwell took the oath of office Monday, the oath was administered by his sister, retired Philadelphia trial judge Renee Cardwell Hughes.
“Make no mistake, I know how many great lawyers, Black and otherwise, have deserved this honor in the past and my goal is to make sure that more diverse attorneys become involved in the VBA and take advantage of the benefits as have I,” Cardwell told members and guests in a Zoom call. “I am a better lawyer because of my association with the VBA. I want each lawyer in Virginia – regardless of race, gender identity or orientation, socio-economic status, geographic location or any other factor – to consider the VBA as a home for them.”
He will appoint members of the organization to the new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which Ottinger established in 2021.
VBA elected two other officers Monday: Benjamin D. Leigh of Atwill, Troxell & Leigh PC in Leesburg as president-elect, and W. Ryan Snow of Crenshaw, Ware & Martin PLC in Norfolk as chair of the board of governors. Additionally, the Young Lawyers Division, a group of about 1,200 attorneys younger than 40, elected a new chair for a one-year term. Kristen R. Jurjevich, a shareholder with Pender & Coward PC in Virginia Beach, will serve as chair. R. Patrick Bolling, a principal on Woods Rogers PLC’s labor and employment team was elected as chair-elect.
VBA also elected four new board of governors representatives to three-year terms:
- Steven D. Brown, representing the Capitol region. Brown is partner with IslerDare PC in its Richmond office and focuses his practice on labor, employment and business issues with private and public employers,
- Lonnie D. “Chip” Nunley III, serving at-large. He is a partner with Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP in its Richmond office, where he has practiced for 35 years.
- William E. Phillips, representing the Southside region. He is a partner with Caskie & Frost PC in Lynchburg. His extensive practice in civil litigation has an emphasis on personal injury defense work and commercial litigation.
- Donna M. Rostant, serving at-large. She is an attorney with Jones & Rostant PC in Fairfax with 25-plus years of legal expertise and is a nurse practitioner who has taught nursing.
The Virginia Bar Association has 4,200 members and is the largest voluntary bar association in Virginia.