Virginia State Bar

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

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General Practice

A Section of the Virginia State Bar.

Section News and Information

June 6, 2013

Summer 2013 Newsletter is available

The Summer 2013 Newsletter is available.

April 24, 2014

Stephen M. Quillen Named Recipient of Tradition of Excellence Award

Quillen photoStephen M. Quillen, a third-generation solo practitioner in Russell County, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Tradition of Excellence Award by the Virginia State Bar’s General Practice Section.

The award recognizes a lawyer who embodies the highest tradition of personal and professional excellence and who has benefitted the community and enhanced the esteem of general practice attorneys in Virginia. It will be presented on June 14 during the VSB annual meeting at Virginia Beach.

more information

May 4, 2015

Robin Wood Is Recipient of Tradition of Excellence Award

Robin C. Wood III, Esq.Robert “Robin” C. Wood III, who has been practicing law for more than fifty years, has been named the 2015 recipient of the Tradition of Excellence Award by the Virginia State Bar’s General Practice Section.

The award recognizes a lawyer who embodies the highest tradition of personal and professional excellence and who has benefitted the community and enhanced the esteem of general practice attorneys in Virginia. It will be presented on June 20 during the VSB annual meeting at Virginia Beach.

Wood, of Edmund & Williams in Lynchburg, is a graduate of Washington and Lee University and the University of Virginia School of Law.

Among his many other activities, Wood has been an adjunct professor of Virginia law and Procedure at Washington and Lee University School of Law. A former student, John C. Johnson of Roanoke, supported Wood’s nomination and wrote: “He was one of the toughest professors I ever had in law school. So tough that after two weeks I elected to take it ‘Pass/fail.’ The joke was on me because he made us work so hard that I thought I would actually fail. … I refer to his course book several times a year. He is a scholar and a solid lawyer.”

Ronald A. Page Jr., of Richmond, added, “[Wood’s] class was the most difficult, most interesting, and most useful class I took as part of my legal education.…Mr. Wood’s class was a crucible where raw iron was transformed into steel. Mr. Wood’s students were enlightened and given such a practical understanding of Virginia procedure that passing the bar became a near certainty. To this day, I still have all of my written materials from that class and look back at them at least a couple times each year.”

Wood is a fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation; author of Civil Procedure in Virginia, Virginia Law and Practice: a Handbook for Attorneys; a Member of Order of the Coif at Washington and Lee University School of Law; and an adjunct professor of Virginia Law and Procedure at Washington and Lee University School of Law. He is a former chair of the Boyd-Graves Conference, president of the Lynchburg Bar Association, chair of the Litigation Section of the Virginia State Bar and editor of its newsletter, and a member of the board of governors of the Virginia Bar Association. He was also an ACC football head referee from 1975 to 2001 and has served on many boards in the Lynchburg community, including the Chamber of Commerce, Lynchburg Fines Arts Center, Virginia Legal Aid Society, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Lynchburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and United Way.

June 18, 2016

Hon. Denis F. Soden Is Recipient of Tradition of Excellence Award

The Honorable Denis F. Soden, judge of the Henrico Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Tradition of Excellence Award by the Virginia State Bar’s General Practice Section.

The award recognizes a lawyer who embodies the highest tradition of personal and professional excellence and who has benefitted the community and enhanced the esteem of general practice attorneys in Virginia. It will be presented on June 18 during the VSB annual meeting at Virginia Beach.

Soden is a graduate of Hamden-Sydney College and the University of Virginia School of Law. He became a member of the Virginia State Bar in 1971, first as a lawyer for twenty-eight years and as a judge since 2000.

Matthew J. Zwerdling, of Zwerdling, Oppleman & Adams in Richmond, has practiced in Soden’s court for sixteen years. In nominating Soden, Zwerdling wrote: “Some of his standout characteristics and personality traits are his even temper, his quick sense of humor and wit, and his professional courtesy to all lawyers and the parties that appear before him in court. He is extremely even-handed in both his decisions and his temperament.  ...Judge Soden has always remained collegial and cordial to everyone who appears before him.”

Soden is a member of the Richmond, Chesterfield, and Henrico bar associations, the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, the Metro Richmond Family Law Association, the Virginia District Court Judges Association, the Virginia Council of J&DR District Court Judges, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the Committee on Judicial Independence. He served as chief judge of the Henrico Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court in 2002-04. He has been a lecturer at the First Day in Practice Seminar since 2002 and a member of the Richmond Bench Bar Conference since 2000. He has been a lecturer and judicial faculty member of the VSB Professionalism Course.

Soden received his B.A. degree in history and political science from Hampden-Sydney College in 1968. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1971. 

Updated: May 17, 2016

May 26, 2017

Penny Baber is Recipient of Tradition of Excellence Award

James P. “Penny” Baber, who opened his general practice in Cumberland County in 1961, has been named the 2017 recipient of the Tradition of Excellence Award by the Virginia State Bar’s General Practice Section.

The award recognizes a lawyer who embodies the highest tradition of personal and professional excellence and who has benefitted the community and enhanced the esteem of general practice attorneys in Virginia. It will be presented on June 17 during the VSB Annual Meeting at Virginia Beach.

Vivian Seay Giles, the Cumberland County attorney and county administrator, wrote in nominating him for the award that: “Mr. Baber stands as a monument in our community of the true southern gentleman lawyer who has served his community and the Virginia State Bar as a sole practitioner for fifty-six years.”

Baber has served as the commonwealth’s attorney and the Cumberland County attorney, and is currently the commissioner of accounts. He is also active in his community, where he has been a member of the Ruritan Club, served as a Boy Scout troop leader and on the board of directors of the Deep Run Hunt Club, and serves as a trustee of the St. James Episcopal Church in Cartersville.

“I am nominating Mr. Penny Baber for the Tradition of Excellence award, not because of any single monumental achievement or specific success of which I am aware, but for his fifty-six years of service, excellence and professionalism in the practice of law in Central Virginia,” Giles wrote. “Mr. Baber has served, and continues to serve, as an example of the highest professional ethics and legal skill for those of us fortunate enough to practice with him.”

Baber graduated from the University of Richmond in 1958. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1961.

Updated: May 08, 2017

February 25, 2019

General Practice Section Seeking Articles

The General Practice Section Board of Governors is seeking articles for its new online newsletter. The goal is to provide an informative periodical to keep members up to date on any changes in current and proposed laws. Articles can be on any general practice topic.

Submissions should be in article format and not in the form of an outline. Please include any citations, and use endnotes instead of footnotes.

Please note: Policy on Content of Publications of Virginia State Bar Committees, Sections, Conferences, and Virginia Lawyer

You may contact Chris Johnson, editor, with any questions and/or submissions.

February 25, 2019

31st Annual Tradition of Excellence Award

Additional Info

Information on submitting nominations.

Deadline for submitting nominations: April 8, 2019

By Ronald A. Page, Jr., chair

It is my great pleasure to seek nominations for the General Practice Section’s 31st Annual Tradition of Excellence Award.  As trite and sentimental as it may be, my earliest inklings of wanting to be an attorney are linked to my reading Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird in middle school.  The General Practice Section is seeking modern embodiments of Atticus Finch for consideration.  We are seeking nomination for those very special attorneys that serve their clients and communities in an untiring fashion.  We feel it is more important, now than ever, to recognize the individuals who uphold the highest ideals of the Virginia State Bar, especially the bar’s renounced reputation for civility.  As the award is bestowed by the General Practice Section, we give preference to the generalists over the specialists.

June 3, 2019

John Randolph Nelson Receives Tradition of Excellence Award

Lynchburg lawyer John Randolph “Randy” Nelson 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, David Neumeyer, executive director of the Virginia Legal Aid Society, noted that Nelson “truly embodies the award’s promotion of personal and professional excellence.” 

Debby Hudgins, Virginia Legal Aid Society pro bono coordinator, stated that Nelson was one of the original lawyers to volunteer when the VLAS was founded in 1991, and that he has closed over 30 cases for them. Says Hudgins, “Randy has made house calls for clients that were home-bound and defended a VLAS client in a jury trial that took more than fifty hours.”

In addition to his private law practice in Lynchburg and his volunteer efforts for the VLAS, Nelson has donated his time to the Lynchburg Lifesaving Crew, the Lynchburg Historical Foundation, Interfaith Outreach, and the Lynchburg Community Loan Fund. 

His leadership roles include positions at the Virginia State Bar, the Lynchburg Bar Association, and on the Lynchburg City Council. Lynchburg Vice Mayor MaryJane Tousignant Dolan states that Randy “presents with the utmost sense of integrity, honor, civility, and well researched and thought out reasoning when stating his case as pertains to challenges on issues facing the city.”

Nelson also served for 28 years as a special justice in the 24th Judicial Circuit. A graduate of Randolph Macon College and the University of Richmond Law School, Nelson once served as a police officer in Virginia Beach as part of the Law Student-Police Program. 

Nelson is married to Karen Nelson, a Lynchburg elementary school principal, and is the father of four grown children. He will be presented his award on June 15 at the Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.

July 23, 2019

2018-2019 Annual Report

The 2018-2019 Annual Report is available.

August 27, 2019

New Board of Governors Elected for 2019-2020

New Board of Governors elected for 2019-2020.