May 17, 2007
James C. Roberts of Richmond Receives Tradition of Excellence Award
The Virginia State Bar’s General Practice Section bestowed its 21st annual Tradition of Excellence Award on James C. Roberts of Richmond. The award recognizes a lawyer who embodies the highest tradition of personal and professional excellence and enhances the image of attorneys in Virginia. It was presented during the Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.
Roberts, seventy-five, is a big-firm lawyer who has cultivated a general practice during the fifty years since he was admitted to the Virginia bar. He has spent his career with Troutman Sanders and its predecessor firms. He was lead counsel for A.H. Robins Co. Inc. when the company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy after its litigation losses over the Dalkon Shield. He also was lead counsel in U.S. v. Holland, in which a Virginia state senator and his son were acquitted on thirty-one charges of conspiracy, bank fraud, perjury and obstruction of justice. The court subsequently awarded attorneys fees against the government for groundless prosecution.
Roberts was nominated for the Tradition of Excellence award by W. Reilly Marchant, chair of the Richmond Bar Association’s Nominations and Awards Committee. “Mr. Roberts has done almost every kind of case imaginable and he has done it with skill in the law and a common-sense approach to justice,??? Marchant wrote. “He is a man of great character and integrity, and yet he remains completely approachable by the newest and youngest lawyer seeking encouragement or advice. He is a shining example of how lawyers can serve the community and their profession, as well as make a great living … as a general practitioner.???
Roberts was born in Taylorsville, N.C., during the Depression. He won a football scholarship to Hampden-Sydney College. When injury sidelined him, he finished his undergraduate education and earned a law degree at the University of Richmond. He worked odd jobs to put himself through college and almost had to drop out of law school. An anonymous alumnus donated the five-hundred-dollar tuition, and Roberts graduated first in his class. Now he is a leading fundraiser for the law school.
Roberts’s talents were recognized early by Richmond judges, who appointed him to defend indigent persons charged with crimes. His dedication to pro bono service has continued—he helped found a predecessor to Richmond’s legal aid system, which drew on the talents of young lawyers to represent those without means to pay.