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John M. Oakey Jr.

John M. Oakey Jr.

Work on Virginia Code of Evidence, improvements in the justice system through initiatives of the Supreme Court of Virginia

McGuireWoods LLP (retired)
One James Center, 901 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23219


B.A., University of Virginia
J.D., University of Virginia Law School

Who was your most important mentor and how did that mentor impact your career?

Richard L. Williams. I learned from him how to be a successful trial lawyer and also about the responsibility that each attorney has to act professionally.

What do you consider your biggest personal accomplishment and why?

Being selected as a Fellow of the American College of Trial lawyers. Only one percent of the trial bar is elected to this position.

What is the best bit of advice you ever received?

I’m not sure that I received it from any one attorney, but rather by observing my mentor and other attorneys who were respected. It was that lawyers should act towards everyone in a fair and honest way so that our occupation will remain a profession rather than become merely a business.

How do you achieve a balance between your professional life and your personal life?

I’m not exactly sure, but I think it’s probably because I recognize my personal life and my community activities as being at least as important to me and my family as my occupation.

If you hadn’t become a lawyer, what field would you have entered?

Ever since I was a little kid, I have always wanted to be an astronomer.

What is your favorite book or movie and why?

Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis is one of the few books I’ve read more than once. Each time I get something more out of it. It strengthened my faith by giving me the logic to understand things that I have questioned.

What are two facts about you that most people, including your closest friends, may not know?

After practicing law for 46 years, I still get nervous before each case, and I still feel bad when my client is not successful. These are emotions I try to hide.