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VADA Awards

VADA Award for Excellence in Civil Litigation

Walter H. Peake III

The board of directors of the VADA is pleased to announce that this year’s Award for Excellence in Civil Ligation will be awarded posthumously to Walter H. Peake III.  The award will be presented to Walt’s family at the 2019 Annual Meeting in Norfolk on October 3.

Walt was a masterful trial lawyer who specialized in the defense of medical professionals. Walt was known not just for his keen intellect, skillful advocacy, unyielding concern for and devotion to his clients, but also for his adherence to the highest standards of ethics, integrity, and professionalism. Possessed of a quick wit, engaging personality, and an infectious laugh, Walt brightened most any gathering evidencing his boundless love of life and bringing levity and a smile to all.

Walt was a lawyer's lawyer who loved the intellectual stimulation of his chosen career and embraced representing his clients, regardless of how challenging, and he passionately advocated their cause. His immense legal ability and accomplishments earned him the respect and admiration of his clients, his peers, and the tribunals before whom he appeared. He was especially proud of the firm he helped found and of the young lawyers he mentored and was always quick to credit the efforts of others. Walt’s career serves as a model of excellence and professionalism in civil litigation and he leaves a great legacy for those privileged to call him their partner, colleague or mentor.   

The VADA board of directors believes Walt met the high standards for receipt of the Excellence in Civil Litigation Award. He was widely admired for his exemplary conduct inside and outside of the courtroom, his strong legal mind, and his commitment to mentoring younger attorneys.

Award Criteria

More than twenty years ago, the VADA Board of Directors instituted an award entitled "VADA Award for Excellence in Civil Litigation."

The Award honors a distinguished jurist, civil litigator, or other appropriate person who exhibits the following: 

1. The highest standards of ethics, demeanor and temperament; 
2. Exemplary conduct inside and outside the courtroom; 
3. Courtesy and fairness in dealing with others; 
4. Work of the highest quality; and 
5. Such other criteria as the Board may determine are appropriate, such as community involvement; judicial, bar-related and educational activities; and participation in activities that improve the civil justice system.

Phillip C. Stone - 1994
James W. Morris, III - 1995 

Chief Justice Harry L. Carrico - 1996 
The Hon. Albert V. Bryan, Jr. - 1997 
Ronald D. Hodges (posthumously) - 1998 
The Hon. Nicholas E. Persin - 1999 
John M. Oakey, Jr. - 2000 
Frank B. Miller, III - 2001 
Russell H. Roberts - 2002 
William B. Poff - 2003 
The Hon. Robert R. Merhige, Jr. - 2004 
The Hon. R. Terrence Ney - 2005 
Henry H. McVey III - 2006 
James Rudy Austin - 2007 
James E. Brydges, Jr. - 2008 
Colin J. S. Thomas, Jr. - 2009 
The Hon. Paul F. Sheridan (Ret.) - 2010 
John H. OBrion, Jr.- 2012 
George W. Wooten -2013 
James W. Jennings, Jr. - 2014
Frank N. Cowan - 2015
Mary M.H. "Molly" Priddy - 2016
M. Pierce Rucker II - 2017
Stephen A. Horvath - 2018

VADA - VTLA Civility Award

Stephanie E. Grana

This year marks the fourth year of the joint VADA-VTLA Civility and Professionalism Award, which is given by each association to a member of the other who exhibits the highest degree of civility and professionalism in dealing with litigation opponents.  This joint project is intended to nurture the spirit of civility in Virginia practice by recognizing the bar leaders who exemplify all that is best in the practice of law. This year, VADA will bestow its award on Stephanie E. Grana of Breit Cantor Grana Buckner at its annual meeting October 3.

An attorney for more than 26 years, Stephanie Grana’s professional integrity and ability has earned her an AV® Rating from Martindale-Hubbell®, a leading lawyer rating directory. She has personally handled numerous high-profile, high-stakes personal injury cases, and has successfully guided her clients to positive outcomes. She also has been selected to Best Lawyers in America®. Stephanie has often been recognized for her incredible track record including being selected by her peers to the Super Lawyers® list every year since 2007. Stephanie has also appeared consistently in the list of the top 100 lawyers in Virginia, top 50 female lawyers in Virginia and top 50 lawyers in Richmond. She has received numerous awards and accolades from many other organizations and publications, such as the “Top 40 Under 40” award from Style Weekly (2008), the “Influential Women of the Year” award from Virginia Lawyers Weekly (2010), the Woman of Achievement award from the Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association (2012), “Influential Women of Law” award from Virginia Lawyers Weekly (2019) and she has been inducted as a Virginia Law Foundation fellow.

Stephanie has been voted by her peers to numerous leadership positions in both local and statewide organizations. She is past President of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association. She is a past-president of the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. America Inn of Court and the Metro Richmond Women’s Bar Association and is a member of the American Association of Justice. Stephanie was selected by The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia to serve on the Virginia Model Jury Instruction Committee, which writes and edits jury instructions for all Virginia cases. She is currently an active member of the Boyd-Graves Conference and the Virginia State Bar Future of Law Practice Study Committee.

In addition to her trial work, Stephanie is often selected to teach other lawyers on various topics, including personal injury litigation, brain injury claims, trial practice, jury selection, and medical malpractice at conferences around Virginia. Stephanie completed her undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Richmond.

It is with great pleasure that the VADA honors a woman who enhances professionalism in the legal community and promotes the highest levels of competence, integrity, and ethical conduct.

Earlier this year, the VTLA honored
Michael E. Harman with its 2019 VADA-VTLA Civility and Professionalism Award.

Award Criteria

Beginning in 2015, the VADA and VTLA agreed to create an award which each year will recognize and honor a member of each organization for their civility and professionalism in the practice of law.

Both associations believe that their members have an obligation to be professional with clients, other parties and counsel, the courts and the public. This obligation includes civility, professional integrity, personal dignity, candor, diligence, respect, courtesy, and cooperation. Some go above and beyond obligation, and their conduct sets the standard.

The VADA honorees have been:

Rick Ladd - 2016

Steuart Thomas - 2017

Molly Priddy - 2018

Michael Harman - 2019

Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys

1915 Huguenot Road, Ste 301

Richmond, VA, 23235


Executive Director: Sherma Mather

Director of Meetings: Amy Gilbody

Journal of Civil Litigation Managing Editor: Molly Terry

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