This month’s spotlighted VADA member is Lauren Darden of Wharton Aldhizer & Weaver, in Harrisonburg. Lauren is a past member of the VADA’s Board of Directors. She first served as the Young Lawyers Chair (2010-2011) and then as the Blue Ridge Regional representative and at-large member (2011-2015). She has also served on the VADA’s Annual Meeting Committee and has attended numerous Annual Meetings as well as Spring Meetings and local happy hours, and has written for The Journal of Civil Litigation.
1. Where were you born?
Baltimore, MD—Land of blue crabs, Old Bay, and the O’s!
2. Spouse? Children? Pets?
I have been married to my husband, Christopher, for almost 19 years. We have a daughter, Hayley, who just finished her first year at UVA, and a son, Jackson, who is entering seventh grade. The family is rounded out by a sweet Jack Russel mix, London, and a surly cat named Chemicals, aka “Mike.”
3. What type of law do you practice?
Civil litigation, including insurance defense, employment discrimination defense and commercial litigation in state and federal courts. I also do some workers’ compensation defense work and have had the opportunity to work on patent litigation matters. On the non-litigation side, I also counsel employers on employment policies and compliance, as well as separation agreements and severance.
4. How long have you been a member of VADA?
I attended my first VADA Annual Meeting the weekend after I found out I passed the Bar, in 2006.
5. What do you like most about practicing law?
The interesting fact patterns that are presented. One of the most difficult and enjoyable parts about practicing law is the challenge of “turning the aircraft carrier” when I am working on a case where it seems like the facts are stacked against the defense.
6. What have you enjoyed the most about your time in VADA?
Developing relationships and contacts with attorneys across the Commonwealth. There have been many times I have picked up the phone to pick another member’s brain on a topic, and I have always been met with a warm response and valuable feedback. Playing darts at the Homestead at the Annual Meeting is also a lot of fun!
7. What was the first concert you attended?
(M.C.) Hammer, Too Legit to Quit Tour, April 26, 1992, at the Baltimore Arena.
8. What is your favorite sports team?
Virginia Cavaliers Basketball (since 2000, not hopping on the bandwagon!) Really, I enjoy all UVA sports, as well as NFL and MLB games, but going to college basketball games is my favorite!
9. What is the one app on your phone you cannot live without?
Podcasts—I guess that is Apple Podcasts? I drive up and down 81 every day during my commute and podcasts have become a great companion. Some of my favorites are Serial (Season 1), Dr. Death, The Dropout, Armchair Expert and Young House Love Has a Podcast.
10. What is at the top of your bucket list?
Traveling to Europe—hoping for Italy or Spain and Portugal in Summer 2020!
11. Do you have a favorite movie quote?
Not sure I would call it a favorite, but my son and I have taken to saying “You’re killing me, Smalls!” to each other pretty regularly during his middle school years. It tends to cover a lot of situations that arise.
12. What talent do you wish you had?
I’ve always wished I could draw. In my head I see things I want to put on paper, but the results bear no resemblance … .
13. When I am not in the office, I like to…
Hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains, travel, visit local wineries and craft breweries, try new restaurants, cook and read.
14. If I wasn’t practicing law, I would be…
I would love to do historical restoration and renovation work on old houses.
15. What would your courtroom walk-up music be?
“My Shot” from Hamilton. (I may have just seen it last month and have the soundtrack on the brain.)
16. What advice would you give to someone who just passed the bar?
Do as much as you can to get experience, even when it seems intimidating. The longer you wait, the more intimidating it becomes.
17. What is the last TV show you binge watched?
Dead to Me and Schitt’s Creek.
18. What is your guilty pleasure?
A jar of peanut butter, a bag of chocolate chips, and a glass of wine.
19. What is your definition of success?
To work hard, think hard, and find time to enjoy the people around me. I feel most successful and thankful in the moments when I am able to experience a new place or event with my family.