Virginia Lawyers Weekly//April 17, 2023
Virginia Lawyers Weekly//April 17, 2023//
Virginia Lawyers Weekly is pleased to present the next group of honorees in our program recognizing the leading lawyers in a particular field of law. In this edition, we showcase “Virginia’s Go To Lawyers” for business litigation.
The attorneys featured on the following pages were nominated by their colleagues and chosen by a panel from Lawyers Weekly. We expect some readers will argue there are some excellent lawyers who should have been included. Let us know! And please nominate them for future lists. Our next featured practice area will be appellate law.
Please join us in congratulating these outstanding business litigation attorneys.
Faith A. Alejandro
Shareholder, Sands Anderson
Faith A. Alejandro represents companies and local governments in management, operation and planning issues. She offers efficient responses to daily HR management issues and dives deep into regulations and case law. At every stage, her goal is to craft successful defenses that put her clients on the path to victory.
Alejandro’s practice benefits from her prior work in the field of mediation and dispute resolution. She can bring petitions for the appointment of guardians and conservators, including undue influence and a person’s legal and mental ability to make a valid will. She has also represented cases involving child abuse and neglect, children in need of services, foster care and adoption petitions.
Alejandro serves as member and secretary of the YWCA of Richmond, a member of the Richmond Symphony Chorus and a volunteer as the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government & International Studies.
Partner, Vasseghi Budd Law
Kellie Budd focuses her burgeoning practice at Vasseghi Budd Law on corporate transactions, civil litigation and employment law. She has extensive experience assisting startups and small- and medium-sized businesses at various growth stages.
Budd partners with her clients to review and compose contracts and governing documents, and further advises businesses as either sellers or buyers in acquisition, merger and disposition transactions. She represents individuals in negotiating employment agreements, non-competes and separation agreements.
She has represented numerous clients in diverse litigation matters in state and federal court, bankruptcy court, the Virginia Supreme Court, and in various administrative hearings at the county and state levels. She also represents employees in sexual harassment, discrimination, wrongful discharge and retaliation cases.
Budd sits on the boards of the Fairfax Bar Association and Legal Services of Northern Virginia, and is the former president of the Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association.
Counsel, NOVA Business Law Group
Admitted to practice in seven court jurisdictions, including the U.S. Supreme Court, Eric Burns is an energetic and experienced attorney with successful first-chair jury and bench trial experience in commercial matters, catastrophic personal injury, construction, and professional liability matters.
Burns worked as a contractor with the U.S. Department of Justice before beginning a career in private practice. He has successfully tried cases and litigated appeals in both the state and federal courts of Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Burns believes that each client and each matter have unique needs, and he works with clients to develop the right strategic approach to pursue their interests. Above all, whether inside or outside of court, he takes pride in being a zealous advocate for their interests.
Shareholder, Bean Kinney & Korman
Stephen Caruso helps both individuals and businesses navigate the most complex of legal conundrums. He represents businesses both large and small, as well as government contractors and clients in construction and land use disputes. He has vast experience in practicing civil and commercial litigation and has served as first and second chair in numerous trials, formal mediations and arbitrations.
After graduating from the University of Maryland, he attended law school at George Mason University School of Law. Prior to joining the firm, he worked as a judicial intern for the Honorable Lawrence J. Block and also for the Honorable Bruce White.
While his litigation style varies from case to case, his excellence remains a constant. He states that the most rewarding part of his job is being able to help his clients at the most difficult moments of their lives.
It would be fair to say that Andy Clark has seen it all, having practiced for more than 22 years in business litigation in state and federal courts, and even having presented arguments before the Virginia Supreme Court — a somewhat irregular occurrence for a business litigator.
In his practice, Clark helps clients navigate high-stakes business litigation and disputes. He advises clients on matters ranging from day-to-day contractual issues to “bet-the-company” litigation. While he is always looking for ways to resolve disputes on the front end, Clark has substantial experience litigating cases to verdict.
Clark’s devotion to his clients, as evidenced by his impressive track record at his litigation practice, is matched by his dedication to the greater practice of law and his community, including pro bono work like his representation of Richmond Sports Backers, a nonprofit designed to inspire people from all over Richmond to live more active lives.
Partner, Holmes Costin & Marcus
In her 30 years of experience as a trial attorney, Sheila Costin has represented business clients of all sizes in both state and federal courts, in matters ranging from fraud and business conspiracy to trade secrets and breach of contract.
As a result of to her history of courtroom success i and ever-expanding ability to steer clients clear of litigation disputes, Costin has become a highly sought-after authority by other firms seeking to advise on structuring their own shareholder and operating agreements.
In addition to her work as a business litigator, Costin has successfully represented fiduciaries and beneficiaries, executors, guardians, conservators and trustees. She is also a qualified guardian ad litem in a well-known and effective conciliator.
D. Margeaux Thomas
Founder, Thomas Law
Over her 15-plus-year career as a lawyer, D. Margeaux Thomas has represented individuals and small businesses in complex commercial and real estate litigation and class action cases throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Washinton, D.C. She specializes in commercial landlord/tenant disputes, business partnership disputes and contract disputes.
In addition, Thomas strives to promote diversity and inclusion through legal education. She has traveled throughout the country as a faculty lecturer and has educated more than 4,000 attorneys on business litigation issues.
Thomas is currently on the board of the Old Dominion Bar Association and is a member of the George Mason Inn of Court and the Alexandria Bar Association Judicial Screening Committee. She is also passionate about childhood nutrition and is the founder of Vegetable Forward, an organization dedicated to educating nonprofits on how to cultivate community gardens.
Broderick C. Dunn
Partner, Cook, Craig & Francuzenko
Broderick C. Dunn has spent his career guiding both individuals and small businesses through the litigation process, helping them to avoid costly disputes and manage all types of employment issues.
Dunn is a leader in the commercial litigation and employment bar, and regularly writes and speaks about Virginia’s new employment laws, workplace harassment, workplace assault, social media in the workplace, and business torts.
He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Virginia Bar Association Labor and Employment Section, the Leadership Committee of the Fairfax Bar Association’s Employment Section, and the Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association.
Dunn relishes opportunities to serve his community, both professionally and personally. In 2020, following his service to the Fairfax County Civil Service Commission, he was appointed as Braddock District Commissioner on the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for Woodberry Forest School and is a vice chair of Williams College’s Alumni Fund.
Stephen Faraci Sr.
Partner, Whiteford Taylor Preston
Stephen Faraci Sr. advises businesses on a wide variety of legal issues and has established an impressive record of defending clients in trials and appeals in courts statewide.
The Whiteford Taylor Preston partner represents clients in a broad array of business and industry segments, including software, construction, real estate, golf, coal, natural gas, and pharmaceutical industries, among others. He is co-chair of the Litigation Department and chair of the Business Litigation Section, and has additional experience in various arbitral forums, including the American Arbitration Association, and state and federal administrative agencies.
Recently, Faraci initiated a nationwide effort on behalf of a privately-owned software developer to stop the distribution, sale and display of counterfeit games, including obtaining injunctive relief and judgments against infringers.
Attorney, Durrette Arkema Gerson & Gill
Kevin Funk is known not only for his knowledge of the law, but his ability to assess a case and its worth, explain it in plain terms, and keep his clients comfortable from the outset.
Focused on bankruptcy and commercial litigation, Funk has experience handling all manner of contract disputes, especially those involving construction, real estate and financial services industries. He frequently represents clients in connection with disputes arising over non-compete/non-solicitation agreements in the securities industry and others. In the bankruptcy field, he has represented creditors, debtors, and Chapter 7 trustees.
Funk has served as a panelist at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting and is the author of the book, “So you Thought Your Proceeds Belonged to You? The Interplay Between Like-Kind Exchanges Under the Tax and Bankruptcy Codes.”
Jonathan P. Harmon
A nationally recognized trial lawyer, McGuireWoods Chairman Jonathan P. Harmon represents Fortune 500 companies in bet-the-company litigation across the country. His clients include some of the largest U.S. financial institutions, as well as telecommunications giants and leading automotive, food and product manufacturers.
Harmon has more than 20 years of experience communicating complex information to juries in federal and state courts. Companies often call on him to “parachute” into high-exposure cases shortly before trial. He has won verdicts in some of the most difficult, pro-plaintiff venues in the United States.
Harmon’s business litigation practice spans complex commercial, fraud, class action, insurance fraud, complex business/civil tort, environmental, product liability, employment, construction, toxic tort, and federal or state protected whistleblower cases. He has extensive experience with high-profile investigations involving sensitive issues relating to sexual and racial harassment/discrimination, whistleblowers, and other violations of federal and state laws.
Michael K. Kim
Partner, Blankingship & Keith
Michael K. Kim is a renowned first-chair trial attorney with significant experience managing all phases of litigation. He focuses his practice on corporate and individual clients in a wide range of complex civil and commercial matters in Northern Virginia state court and in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Kim regularly litigates complex disputes involving breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets, and other business torts. He has also represented fiduciaries and beneficiaries in will contests and in other varieties of trust and estate litigation.
Kim is a member of the Virginia State Bar Fifth District Disciplinary Committee and sits on the board of directors of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Virginia. He also chairs the Judicial Screening Committee.
Managing Partner, Fox & Moghul
In addition to being a seasoned trial attorney, Faisal Moghul is a well-known a published author whose works have received critical acclaim from both state and national media.
Moghul has established himself as a valued contributor to premier legal publications who frequently pens practical guidance notes to educate lawyers on cutting-edge legal issues in real estate and business law.
Moghul has obtained numerous successful outcomes in high-stake disputes in both state and federal courts. He was recently part of the legal team that spearheaded the dismissal of a $7 million business partnership dispute for claims involving breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conversion and civil conspiracy. He also obtained a high six-figure settlement in a deed fraud case. He is also one of very few lawyers to obtain a rare pre-filing injunction against a serial filer pro se litigant.
Brendan D. O’Toole
Partner, Williams Mullen
With over 15 years of experience as a business litigator focusing on federal and state commercial litigation, Brendan D. O’Toole has a wealth of knowledge in the filed and has has handled a wide range of complex cases and clients.
Notably, O’Toole secured a win for a recovery residence situated in a neighborhood in which neighbors had challenged its operation. He argued on behalf of his clients before the Supreme Court, which affirmed his victory with a published order. As a result, the residence is a permissible use by right under the city’s zoning ordinances.
O’Toole’s long and considerable commitment to pro bono work led him to represent Sincere Allah through the Virginia Redemption Project. Through his work in that case, he was able to secure the Project’s first-ever conditional pardon.
Arthur E. Schmalz
Partner, Hunton Andrews Kurth
For nearly three decades, renowned litigator Arthur E. Schmalz has handled a wide array of complex business disputes in both state and federal courts, obtaining over $135 million in compensation for his clients.
Most recently, Schmalz, as lead counsel in a federal trademark infringement and breach of contract trial in the “Rocket Docket,” won nearly $43 million in damages and attorneys’ fees for a nationwide building and development service provider client. The Court also granted a permanent injunction against the unlawful infringement.
Schmalz handles many business litigation cases involving commercial real estate, land use entitlements and land condemnation, particularly for large infrastructure projects. He also serves as a pro bono supporter, dedicating significant time to helping National Park Trust, a nonprofit that preserves park land, with complex land acquisition issues.
J. Scott Sexton
Partner, Gentry Locke
Combining an understanding of business and industry with decades of experience in the law, J. Scott Sexton is known as an aggressive but fair advocate who conducts his practice at Gentry Locke holding the fundamental belief that there are many paths to victory, and most are not obvious or easy.
Sexton has handled numerous notable complex commercial litigation cases, including a case in which he obtained the largest jury verdict on record in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, on behalf of mineral owners regarding deductions from royalty.
Sexton is a charter member of the International Institute of Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Law; a member of the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation; and a senior fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America.
John P. Sherry
Managing Partner, JPS Law
John “J.P.” Sherry started his legal career at one of the largest independent law firms in Virginia, where he became the youngest partner ever among the firm’s then 45-plus attorneys. During that time, he gained firsthand courtroom experience in both state and federal courts.
Sherry’s first jury trial resulted in a verdict of over $600,000 for his client, who was defrauded in a Nigerian “4-1-1” scam. In that case, the jury asked the judge if they could award the client additional money in court costs and out-of-pocket expenses.
A magna cum laude graduate of Tufts University, Sherry puts his psychology degree to good use in his law practice. He has long impressed colleagues with his aggressive but reasonable approach to matters and his ability to maintain an open and inquisitive mind.
W. Edgar Spivey
Member, Kaufman & Canoles
Through almost four decades of hard work, W. Edgar “Ed” Spivey has forged a reputation as a top-tier trial lawyer. As a veteran in the field, he has a diverse civil litigation and arbitration practice that has involved the representation of international, national and local businesses, public governmental bodies, and individuals.
Spivey has particularly deep experience representing public governmental bodies as plaintiffs and arbitrating and litigating investment and securities disputes for claimants, especially in FINRA proceedings.
Most recently, he has led efforts in Virginia by local governments to recover badly needed resources necessary to combat and abate the prescription opioid epidemic. In 2022, those efforts contributed to partial settlements that will flow over $500 million to Virginia over a period of years. Through such litigation, Spivey is working to halt the spread of opioid addiction and bring justice to the families of the lost.
Ashley L. Taylor Jr.
Partner, Troutman Pepper
As co-leader of Troutman Pepper’s nationally ranked State Attorneys General Practice, vice chair of the firm and partner in its RISE Practice Group, Ashley L. Taylor Jr. Offers his clients the benefit of his vast experience navigating the complexities of investigations, enforcement actions and accompanying litigation.
A former deputy attorney general, Taylor has gained valuable insight from handling high-stakes matters before every state attorney general in the U.S. The outcomes he achieves on behalf of his clients are due, in part, to his knowledge of the regulatory enforcement priorities of each state attorney general.
Taylor is also a sought-after strategist and problem-solver for clients facing bet-the-company government investigations, enforcement actions, and litigation. Drawing from his experience with industry-shaping, multistate investigations and litigation, he provides clear-cut advice to his clients to help navigate their toughest challenges.
David W. Thomas
If you ask David W. Thomas what he likes most about his job, he’ll cite the journey before the destination.
“The thing I love most about my job is the ability to work one-on-one with individuals and businesses to problem-solve,” Thomas said.
This MichieHamlett partner represents individuals and businesses on both sides regarding commercial litigation, real estate disputes, construction litigation, consumer protection law and standard contract disputes. His vast experience allows him to view litigation creatively and with an eye toward obtaining a satisfactory result rather than just engaging in litigation warfare.
Following his graduation from the University of Virginia School of Law, Thomas clerked for Judge Danny C. Reeves in the Federal District Court in Kentucky. In addition to sitting on the board of directors for Ronald McDonald House of Charlottesville, Thomas is also part of the adjunct faculty at UVA Law.
Partner, Berenzweig Leonard
As partner and co-director of government contracts at Berenzweig Leonard, Stephanie Wilson represents government contractors of all sizes in bid protest and claims litigation, counseling, transactional matters and contractor compliance.
Wilson has significant experience prosecuting and defending bid protests before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She advises government contractors on a variety of matters such as subcontracting and teaming issues, small business requirements, FAR compliance, and federal government-contracts specific labor and employment laws.
On the transactional side, Wilson helps government contractors negotiate and draft joint venture agreements, mentor-protégé agreements, teaming agreements, subcontracts and other corporate documents. She also advises corporate clients and executives on a variety of business and employment-related matters.
Wilson is a former clerk in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and is a member of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Bar Association.
Thomas M. Wolf
Principal, Miles & Stockbridge
Over the past 40 years, Thomas M. Wolf has focused his law practice on business litigation, particularly in cases involving construction law, corporate governance and shareholder disputes, intellectual property, and general commercial and international law.
Wolf has successfully handled a vast array of shareholder/partner disputes, including the matter widely considered the seminal Virginia case for closely held companies, Colgate v. The Disthene Group, Inc.
In addition to his notable litigation practice, Wolf acts as general counsel to several companies. He has been an adjunct professor of law at the University of Richmond School of Law since 1986.
Wolf is committed to improving the practice of law and promoting the next generation of legal professionals. He is a frequent lecturer on construction law, litigation, employment law and international law both in the U.S. and abroad.