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Fairfax’s Sharon Nelson to seek top VSB post

Sharon D. Nelson, a Fairfax lawyer and president of a computer forensics and information security company, wants to be president of the Virginia State Bar in 2013-14.

Nelson is a member of the VSB Council and its executive committee, and she said current and past officers of the agency have encouraged her to seek the post. VSB rules require a candidate for the position to have been a member of VSB Council for two of the previous five years and to submit a petition with the names of 50 attorneys by Oct. 1.

If more than one candidate files a petition, an election will be conducted by a ballot mailed to VSB members in November. Nelson circulated her petition at the VSB’s annual meeting in Virginia Beach. She has no apparent opposition.

She and her husband, John W. Simek, a computer and technology expert, began operating Sensei Enterprises Inc. full time in 1999. Before then Nelson, was a sole practitioner and Simek had been a senior technologist at Mobil Oil Corp.

Nelson said she now spends most of her time running and marketing the business, which has a staff of 15 who provide information technology and support, computer forensics, e-discovery, data recovery and courtroom technology support.

Her law practice consists mostly of serving former business clients and providing legal advice to the company and on electronic evidence, she said.

A graduate of Tufts University and the Georgetown University law school, she has been active in local, state and national bar organizations, having served as president of the Fairfax Bar Association, a member of the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Committee and currently as chairman of the VSB’s Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law.

She is a former chairman of the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Publishing Board. She is the author or co-author of a number of ABA publications: “The Electronic Evidence and Discovery Handbook: Forms, Checklists and Guidelines”, “Information Security for Lawyers and Law Firms”, “How Good Lawyers Survive Bad Times”, as well as “The Solo and Small Firm Legal Technology Guides” for each of the last four years.

“I’m passionate about my profession and I love the bar,” she said.

Nelson and Simek have six children between them, and she has expanded her work with bar groups as they have grown, she said. “The minute we stopped paying for tuition, we started paying for weddings.”

Nelson said she hopes to spend part of her time as bar president spreading the gospel about technology and electronic evidence. But she added that bar presidents frequently are confronted with issues that they could not have anticipated, such as the effort by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell to raid the bar’s operating reserve this year.

“It was a learning experience, and most of the lawyers in the bar are pretty smart and did learn,” she said. It helped, she said, that legislators were “open to listening and learning” that the bar is financed by lawyer dues rather than tax dollars.

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