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Arlington’s Betty Thompson dies at age 88

Arlington family lawyer Betty A. Thompson died Monday at the age of 88.

McLean lawyer Joseph A. Condo, another leading divorce lawyer, confirmed Thompson’s death Tuesday. His announcement of the death on his Facebook page brought accolades from other Northern Virginia lawyers.

Ms. Thompson was recognized by the General Assembly in 2010 for more than 60 years of service to her community and the legal profession. Colleagues describe her as a trailblazer and advocate for the family law bar.

Ms. Thompson was the first woman in the U.S. to be invited to join the International Academy of Trial lawyers in 1983. At that point, she already had been practicing for 30 years.

Her skills and dedication were recognized by the Southern Trial Lawyers Association, the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and the Arlington County Bar Foundation. She held leadership roles with the Virginia State Bar, the Arlington County Bar Association, the Virginia Bar Association, the Northern Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, and the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. She was a member of the Virginia Family Law Coalition.

“To call her a giant in the profession doesn’t even come close,” said Condo on his Facebook page.  “She was a loyal and devoted friend to many, and a mentor to countless others, who stood on her shoulders in elevating respect and recognition for the family law bar.”

“She was trailblazer in our community. Her loss leaves a huge hole,” posted Del. Scott A. Surovell of Mount Vernon, another family lawyer.

“I always learned from her in cases we had, and she was always the most civil opposing counsel I’ve dealt with,” wrote David M. Levy on the Condo Facebook page. “And her sense of style was only exceeded by her enjoyment of life; she could cut a rug on the dance floor! She will be sorely missed,” Levy said.


  1. Betty can never be replaced nor can anyone fill her shoes. She will never be forgotten by those lucky enough to know her. A true mentor to other lawyers in life, as well as a a true lady of old school manners. Her passing has left a hole in the legal community, a loss for the public as well as all branches of Virginia Government.

  2. I worked with Betty for two years in the mid-to-late 1990s. This is a tremendous loss to the Virginia bar and family law in general. Betty was a pioneer, mentor, and friend. I now teach legal writing/family law at American University, and much of what I attempt to impart on my students originated from Betty. I am forever grateful to have known her, and she will be missed.

  3. I had the oppurtunity to have a case with Betty about 6 months after I started practicing. While we resolved the case, I learned so much by listening to her talk about the applicable case law and her direct role in producing some of it. As a young female attorney it was inspiring to work with such a distinguished member of the Bar and see the true passion she had for family law. She is an example that should always be remembered.

  4. She taught us that a Virginia Lady could be a great Lawyer

  5. Betty was one of a kind, the very best kind. She represented me many years ago, and provided sound guidance in resolving my particular situation. If you wanted someone to hand you tissues and pat you on the back, it wasn’t Betty…she gave great legal advice, as hard as it could be to hear…i’ll never forget her saying to me in regards to my ex who violated many provisions of our SA, “how much money do you want to spend proving he is an a##hole?” That was an epiphany for me, and we both broke up laughing. A great lady, may she rest in peace.

  6. Judge Rosemarie Annunziata

    Betty was a woman ahead of her time. And, she never stopped leading. When I heard the news of her death, a deep sense of loss and sorrow followed in my thoughts. Words and the arguments she crafted from them were Betty’s professional hallmark. But, there was much more to learn from her. Never stinting , always generous, ever mindful of the a lawyer’s special responsibility to serve and advance the greater good, zealous in her representation and in her love for the law, independent in style, open to new challenges and courageous and undaunted in meeting them. In words often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, Betty “preached always, and used words when necessary.”

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