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The Virginia Way…on the golf course

vada-vtla-golf_mainLawyers from the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, used to facing each other in the courtroom or across the table at depositions, met instead on the golf course Sept. 14.

At stake: the Civility Cup.

Back in 2014, then-VTLA president Tom Curcio of Alexandria and Richmond lawyer John Owen, then-president of the VADA, had a shared idea that grew into a vision. They imagined a friendly sports competition that would promote civility between the plaintiffs’ and defense bars and give lawyers on those respective sides a chance to get to know each other outside of work.

In some other states, litigation, particularly personal injury cases, can be nasty. Owen and Curcio’s approach is very much in keeping with the Virginia Way – an effort here in the Old Dominion to be civil, respectful, restrained and searching for common ground.

This reporter has watched the VADA-VTLA effort with great interest. The idea has worked, and worked well. The effort started with joint seminars to promote civility and better understanding, then moved to the golf course.

The tourney has grown into what was “The 4th Annual VADA/VTLA Frank N. Cowan Civility Cup Golf Tournament.” It was named for the late Frank Cowan, a Richmond defense lawyer who passionately believed in civility and treating opponents with respect. Owen has said that when he started practice, Cowan was one of his mentors. One lasting lesson he taught Owen is that “there’s a right way to do things” in dealing with the other side.

Some 40 golfers – a new record — participated earlier this month at the Independence Golf Club. The event is held in Ryder-Cup format. In a squeaker, the VTLA prevailed, 16-14.

Over the four years of the tournament, the VTLA now holds a 3-1 advantage over their VADA brethren and sistren.

Civility has an even better tally – 4-0.