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VADA bragging rights

The Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys elected Richmond lawyer John Owen as its new president when it held its annual meeting in Roanoke last month.

Owen, a partner at Harman Claytor Corrigan & Wellman, becomes the fourth lawyer from that firm to lead the defense lawyers, and the third president this century.

John Claytor was president in 1990-91; since 2000, David Corrigan (2000-01) and Stan Wellman (2008-09) also have held the top post.

Sands Anderson, based in Richmond, also has some VADA bragging rights. They too have had four presidents: Bunky Miller (1983-84), Pierce Rucker (1990-91), Chip Delano (2002-03) and Terrence Graves (2007-08).

Graves holds the distinction of being the first, and so far only, African-American president of a statewide non-minority bar group.
PennStuart has had two presidents in the past seven years (Rick Ladd, 2006-07, and Lisa Frisina, 2011-12); Frisina was the first woman to lead the defense bar since its founding in 1968.

It’s worth noting that the VADA has been making up the lack of female leadership in short order. Woods Rogers’ Elizabeth Perrow followed Frisina and just completed her term; Kate McCauley of Goodman, Allen & Filetti is the group’s president-elect.

The third firm that can boast having had four leaders of the VADA is Harrisonburg’s Wharton, Adhizer & Weaver. Their presidents are Phil Stone (1978-79), Bruce Wallinger (1989-90), Frank Hilton (2001-2002) and Marshall Ross (2009-10).

For total number of VADA presidents, McGuireWoods is the leader, with five, although no one from that firm has been the president since 1997.

The late Jay Corson (1981-82) and Hal McVey (1985-86) were leaders in the 1980s. David Landin is probably better known as a partner at Hunton & Williams and as a Virginia Bar Association president, but he led the defense bar in 1987-88, when he was at McGuireWoods. John Oakey was president in 1994-95, as was Brad Stillman in 1996-97, a few years before he went on the bench.

Sands Anderson is biding its time: Sands partner Randy Wimbish is the current treasurer of the VADA, and should give the firm its fifth chief in just a few years.

Correction: This post was amended on Nov. 25 to include the four presidents at Wharton, Aldhizer & Weaver.

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