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The VLW Quick 10: Things we’ll miss about Deborah Elkins

Our colleague and friend Deborah El­kins retired Sept. 1, after more than 31 years at Virginia Lawyers Weekly. In fact, she was the last remaining original employee from when the doors opened June 1986. I often say that I’ve been here since Day 2 (May 1988). Deborah was here on Day 1.

We wish her the absolute best. My colleagues Peter Vieth and Jordan Bon­durant join me in resurrecting one of our favorite features from days gone by: The VLW Quick 10.

Here are 10 things we will miss about Deborah:

  1. Billions served, almost. McDon­ald’s boasts of “billions served.” Debo­rah’s case digest tallies don’t quite reach that level, but it’s fair to say that literal­ly hundreds of thousands of cases have passed across her desk since 1986.
  2. Nobody knows them better. Deb­orah’s knowledge and memory of cases past is a thing of wonder. “I think we had a similar case on that issue about 2013,” she will say. And we did.
  3. Nobody does it faster. If we’re in a street fight that depends on who can digest cases the quickest, we want Deb­orah on our side. The other guys will be toast.
  4. Her sense of order. If you think keeping all those cases straight looks easy, guess again. You can tell Deborah was a law librarian while going to law school.
  5. Her news judgment. Deborah takes first pass at all the cases that come through the office and advises the rest of us on which decisions look newsworthy. She knows which ones will resonate.
  6. Her way of describing cases. Some people have a sense of humor that is both wry and sly. Deborah will pull tell­ing details from a decision that makes it accessible, human and often funny.
  7. That Midwestern thing. In In­diana, where Deborah hails from, they talk refreshingly straightforward and direct. She’s not a football fan, but she did get pretty excited when the Colts won the Super Bowl.
  8. The Wednesday afternoon dis­cussion. Our newspaper goes to bed on Thursdays, so by Wednesday after­noon, we better have our story line-up set. That’s the ideal. Many, many weeks, we’ve had the “so what else do we have?” conversation. Some cases get prettier at closing time.
  9. The shared view from the fox­hole. Virginia Lawyers Weekly has gone through four owners in 31 years, three since 2014. We’ve all hung tight together.
  10. Her understanding of our mission. When they write the book explaining why Virginia Lawyers Weekly has been so successful, you’ll find Deborah’s name front and center, and with good reason.

So to Deborah, we say a hearty thank you. And cheers!

– Paul Fletcher, with Peter Vieth and Jordan Bondurant