Virginia State Bar

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

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Family Law

A Section of the Virginia State Bar.

Chair’s Message

Dan Gray, Esquire

At its last meeting, the Family Law Section Board had the pleasure of selecting its annual Betty A. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and its Family Law Service Award honoree. As in years past, the members of this Section were generous in nominating several worthy recipients, and I want to thank our members for the work put into the nominations. One of the benefits of this nominations process is learning how much the nominees contribute to the practice of law, and to their communities. It is inspiring.

The Family Law Service Award is designed to recognize and honor individuals or organizations who consistently give their time, talent, and energies to advance family, domestic relations or juvenile law in Virginia. The Board was so very pleased to name Cheshire I’Anson Eveleigh as this year’s award winner. If you visit the Wolcott Rivers Gates website and click on Cheshire’s biography, you can see the various professional and community organizations in which she participates, the articles she’s written, the honors she’s accumulated, and all the work she’s done. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with her in leadership in the AAML Virginia Chapter, and in the Virginia Family Law Coalition, and know first-hand the time and effort she puts into these organizations. Her commitment to improving the practice of family law in the Commonwealth is unparalleled.

It was her work with the Family Law Coalition, in particular – meeting with the Coalition members, bridging gaps between different organizations, learning the byzantine legislative systems that govern rule-making in the Commonwealth, corralling Coalition members to testify before the General Assembly, testifying herself about pending legislation, and taking heat from legislators on behalf of family law practitioners (and vice versa) – that merited our enduring gratitude.

I’m also lucky enough to know Cheshire in her roles as friend and mother, and her devotion to her family and friends is remarkable. That she has managed to achieve so much professionally while raising two wonderful children with her husband Bob is a further source of inspiration. She does it all with unfailing grace and good humor, and the Board is proud to present the Service Award to her.

Past recipients of the Betty A. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award – Carl Witmeyer and Betty Sandler are the two most recent examples – were deemed by the Board to have made a substantial contribution to the practice and administration of family law in the Commonwealth. As with the Service Award, the Board considered many worthy nominees, and was pleased to present the award this year to Joseph A. Condo, of Offit Kurman. For as long as I have been a practicing lawyer, Joe Condo has exemplified the superlative practice of family law. Most of you know Joe as either an adversary, the former President of the Virginia State Bar, a familiar face in the Bar’s Professionalism Course video, or in any number of other professional roles. His devotion to high ethical standards and the improvement of the practice is without equal.

He is also a decent man. More than 15 years ago, as a young associate, I worked a case against Joe, and I screwed something up. I’ll spare my insurer the gory details, but it was a stupid rookie mistake, and it could have been expensive. I went to Joe hat in hand, and to his great credit, rather than serving up a “Sorry, Charlie, you should’ve thought about that earlier,” he worked with me on it in the spirit of our clients’ agreement. I never forgot that, and several attorneys on the other side of my cases have benefited from that seminal experience. I tell them all they have Joe Condo to thank for it.

That is but one of what I am sure are thousands of examples of Joe’s professionalism, courtesy, and evident love of the practice of family law. I am pleased to add my personal congratulations to the congratulations of the Board and the practitioners of this Commonwealth in naming Joe Condo as the 2017 Betty A. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

Dan Gray, Chair
Family Law Section