Virginia State Bar

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

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General Practice

A Section of the Virginia State Bar.

Tradition of Excellence Award

The General Practice Section’s 35th Annual Tradition of Excellence Award recognizes an outstanding 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.

General Qualifications

Nominees must be current members of the Virginia State Bar in good standing who have practiced for a minimum of ten years, five of which must be in general practice. 


Submit in writing to:
VSB General Practice Section
1111 East Main Street, Suite 700
Richmond, Virginia 23219-0026
or via email at

Include the following information:

  1. Name, age, and address of nominee;
  2. Brief biographical information and photograph;
  3. Firm or employment affiliation for past ten years or more;
  4. Bar memberships;
  5. Courts where admitted to practice;
  6. Details of significant community activities and/or contributions;
  7. Details of significant activities and/or contributions that have helped to enhance the image and esteem of general practice attorneys in the Commonwealth;
  8. A brief statement explaining why the nominee should be awarded the Tradition of Excellence Award; and
  9. Any other information that may be of assistance to the selection committee.

Nominees may also be interviewed by the selection committee or a representative of the committee at any time after submission of the nomination.


The General Practice Section must receive your nomination by close of business on Wednesday, March 29, 2023.

Notification of Winner

The recipient of this year’s award will be determined on or before May 22, 2023. The recipient will be invited to be the honored guest of the General Practice Section at the Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach. The 34th Annual Tradition of Excellence Award will be presented during the general session on Friday morning, June 16, at the Annual Meeting.

The family of Michael L. Rigsby posthumously received his 2022 Tradition of Excellence Award at the VSB Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach. 

Past Recipients

1987 Philip M. Sadler
1988 J. Sloan Kuykendall
1989 Henry C.Clark
1990 Phillip S.Walker
1991 The Hon.James Keith
1992 C.Flippo Hicks
1993 Mary Ellen Kerr
1994 E.Wayne Sawyers
1995 Tommy P.Baer
1996* Carl C.Gillespie, Sr.
1997 Nicholas A.Spinella
1998 George M.Warren, Jr.
1999 Eric V. Zimmerman
2000 Ebb H. Williams III
2001 T. L. Plunkett, Jr.
2002 Alexander F. Dillard, Jr.
2003 Kenneth McFarlane Smith
2004 Robert E. Sevila
2005 Lawrence H. Hoover, Jr.
2006 Frank O. Brown Jr
2007 James C. Roberts
2008 Roger C. Wiley Jr.
2009 Hon. Marilyn C. Goss
2010 V.R. “Shack” Shackelford III
2011 James J. Knicely
2012 William L. Schmidt
2013 W. Joseph Owen III
2014 Stephen M. Quillen
2015  Robert “Robin” C. Wood III
2016 Hon. Denis F. Soden
2017 Penny Baber
2018 Grayson P. Hanes
2019 John Randolph "Randy" Nelson
2020 Michael McHale Collins
2021 No recipient
2022 Michael L. Rigsby

* Mr. William C. Goforth was an honorary recipient of the award in 1996 for his outstanding years of service to the General Practice Section. The award was presented posthumously at the 1996 VSB Annual Meeting.