Leonard A. Bennett
Nationally recognized expert in consumer protection law.
Consumer Litigation Associates PC
12515 Warwick Boulevard, Suite 100
Newport News, VA 23606
BS, George Mason University
JD, George Mason University
Who was your most important mentor and how did that mentor impact your career?
In my legal career, I would have to give credit (and no blame) to Newport News attorneys Tim Fisher (now Judge) and Bill Cowardin, two of five great partners at my first firm who permitted my consumer protection practice and encouraged my development as a civil and federal litigator. Newport News Circuit Court Judge David Pugh also deserves significant credit for his willingness to open his then GDC courtroom to more complex consumer litigation.
What do you consider your biggest personal accomplishment and why?
This is the wrong question to ask a first time father of a two-year old boy. My answer is obvious. Professionally, I won a group of consumer cases against a crooked local business in General District Court when I was just starting out, and a federal jury verdict in Richmond – upheld on appeal – the first jury trial in the nation under a now commonly litigated provision of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Maybe when I was asked to speak at my first national CLE, or teach at the Naval Justice School, contribute to a NCLC treatise or testify before Congress. Each seemed as significant a personal and professional accomplishment as I had dreamed of to that date.
A consumer advocate gains “save the world” satisfaction from helping a widow stop a foreclosure; getting a Navy officer’s inaccurate background check corrected; or forcing an abusive debt collector to hand over a check to the consumer he had earlier targeted and attacked.
What is the best bit of advice you ever received?
The hardest advice to accept in my field and life has been learning how to say, “No.”
How do you achieve a balance between your professional life and your personal life?
I love what I do, so for me much of my work seems recreational. I was not the greatest delegator, so I held on to every major briefing or court appearance. This balance is particularly difficult given my significant practice in the “Rocket Docket.” For example, in 2006 my law partner and I were competitors in a 30-day Marathon Road Rally car race from Argentina to Ecuador. To make that happen, we had to stop filing Eastern District cases beginning six months earlier. Today, I have been able to reach a more even-keeled balance by surrounding myself with fantastic people: a great wife; an active family; strong law partners, and two paralegal legal assistants who handle nearly everything in my office from intense federal and class litigation to basic childcare.
If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what field would you have entered?
I have no idea. I am one of the lucky ones who knew what I wanted from an early age.