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Virginia’s Go To Lawyers – Business Law: Declan C. Leonard

leonard_declanDeclan Leonard
Berenzweig Leonard LLP
Managing Partner
McLean

Education / Certifications:

BS, University of Mary Washington
JD, George Mason University School of Law
Senior Professional in Human Resources Certification

What is the field or practice area for which you are best known?

Business clients who have worked with me for many years have told me that what they most appreciate is my judgment. Whether it’s working to resolve tricky employment issues to keep them from spiraling into litigation, or even this past year in navigating the novel and ever-changing Paycheck Protection Act process, my business clients say they consider me a trusted part of their executive team rather than a lawyer to reactively reach out to when a problem arises.

Please describe a signature case, deal or transaction.

While my business law practice entails a balanced mix of counseling, transactional and litigation, I have been involved in my share of “bet the company” cases. One in particular in recent years involved allegations of theft of trade secrets against a company I represented, and the damages sought were north of $50 million. My really great litigation team here at Berenzweig Leonard and I took a surgical approach throughout the course of litigation to separate out the noise from the facts in order to present a compelling argument at summary judgment. After a very hard fought case, we received a full dismissal in the Eastern District of Virginia, and that decision was upheld by the 4th Circuit.

Please briefly mention up to three additional important cases, deals or transactions.

One of the great things about being a business lawyer is that you get to live vicariously through your clients as they go through the business cycles of buying and selling. Among the many business deals handled over the years, I have guided one of my longest and favorite clients, a thriving defense contractor based in Northern Virginia, through a series of owner departures and now more recently a series of investment acquisitions as they look to expand their footprint.

Describe your approach to working with clients.

I always start by listening and asking questions. Just because you have worked on a similar legal issue in the past does not mean that clients benefit from a one-size-fits-all approach. A good business lawyer is there not to impress a client with fancy credentials and past wins, but instead to understand each client’s objective and to partner with that company to best achieve the desired outcome. Noncompete litigation is a great example where there can be any number of successful resolutions, and I see my role as educating the client and discerning from their goals how to best position the case.

What is the best career advice you’ve received?

My long-time law partner here at Berenzweig Leonard, Seth Berenzweig, says that to be successful at any career and particularly in law, you have to stay relevant. Seth spearheaded the construction of a state-of-the-art video podcasting studio at our firm’s headquarters in Tysons last year, which has proven invaluable to staying connected with our clients and the larger business community in the midst of the pandemic. Seth and I even had the privilege of pairing up with Virginia Lawyers Weekly this past summer to host a virtual Town Hall across Virginia to help guide companies as they began the reopening process from COVID.

What developments in business law do you expect to see in 2021?

As the head of our firm’s employment law practice, our group is gearing up for what is expected to be a surge of employment law cases brought by employees as a result of the landmark Virginia Values Act and related legislation. Virginia will be going from having really no state law employment law protections to now having some of the most potent causes of action in the country. We have been working since this past summer to get the word out to our company clients that it’s a new day for employment law in Virginia, and they need to be ready.