Virginia State Bar

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General Practice

A Section of the Virginia State Bar.

Section News and Information

June 20, 2020

Michael McHale Collins Receives Tradition of Excellence Award

Covington lawyer Michael McHale Collins has been awarded the General Practice Section’s Tradition of Excellence Award. The award recognizes a Virginia lawyer who “…embodies the highest tradition of personal and professional excellence in Virginia, enhances the image and esteem of attorneys in the Commonwealth, and has devoted significant amounts of time, efforts, and/or funds to activities that benefit their community.”

In his nomination, Benjamin P. Thurman noted that Collins served “…the better part of a lifetime as a fine example of the quintessential southern gentleman lawyer.” Added Thurman, “Michael genuinely enjoys helping people and finds it difficult to turn away those in need, regardless of the complexity of the problem or the client’s ability to pay."

Thurman also noted that Collins is “…always courteous, genteel, and respectful to all who seek him out for help, and a masterful trial attorney and sharp legal mind.”  

In addition to being a founding member and senior partner of Collins & Hepler, PLC for 12 years, Collins has donated his time to the Covington-Hot Springs Rotary Club, the Advisory Board for the Alleghany Highlands Community Housing Improvement Program, and the Board of Trustees for the Dabney S. Lancaster Community College. He has served as the pro bono legal advisor to the Covington Fire Department and the Covington Rescue Squad since 1973. 

Jeanne M. Hepler, his co-partner said of him, “Michael is the classic example of the beloved country lawyer – he’s handled nearly every kind of case imaginable, is an outstanding litigator with a keen understanding of the law, always conducts himself with fairness, respect, and humility, and has a delightful sense of humor with many amusing stories to share.”

Collins’s leadership roles include positions at the William & Mary Law School Alumni Association, Founder and Director of the State Bank of the Alleghenies, and the Alleghany Highlands Free Clinic. 

Collins was a member of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary District Committee for the 6th Congressional District, serving as Chairman of the Northern Division in 1987. He was a long-standing member of the Local Government Attorneys of Virginia.

As a lawyer, Collins served Alleghany and Bath counties for almost 50 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and his law degree from The College of William & Mary, where he was the managing editor of the William & Mary Law Review and a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa Honorary Fraternity. 

He is married to Ellen Collins, and is the father of three children: Susan, Mary-McHale, and Adam.