This month’s spotlighted VADA member is John McGavin of Bancroft McGavin Horvath & Judkins, PC, in Fairfax. John served as President of VADA in 2004-05. He was a member of the VADA’s Board of Directors from 1997-2000 and served on the VADA’s Executive Committee from 2000-06. In addition to his service, John has been a frequent and popular speaker on topics of interest to our membership.
1. Where were you born?
2. Tell us about your spouse. Children. Pets.
Spouse: Linda Peele McGavin—WM Law grad 1983
Children: Colleen Leitner, MD and her husband Evan Leitner MD; Carter (special needs); Maddie (William and Mary student) and Blaire (Virginia Tech student) (twins)
Grandchildren: Willa, age 9 months.
Linda and I are very grateful for our family, and they bring us great pride and joy.
3. What type of law do you practice?
Civil litigation—Products Liability, General Liability Defense.
4. How long have you been a member of VADA?
5. What do you like most about practicing law?
Every day presents a new challenge to learn about different products; events; medicine; people and their tragedies, real and imagined; and a host of other subjects. On a given day, the case may require learning about investigating a fire, to learning about how a nursing home operates, to investigating a tractor trailer accident on the day it occurred, to defending a defamation case. The idea that we get paid to learn about so many different subjects on a daily basis, and then take that information and present it in a way that makes sense to a jury that knows nothing about it is really exciting.
We are responsible for protecting the Rule of Law, and participating at the highest levels in protecting the sanctity of the legal system. This means demonstrating to the courts and our community a respect of the legal system and working to make it better. The opportunity to improve our community by being part of the leadership of a variety of organizations is very rewarding. As President-Elect of the Virginia Law Foundation, I am working to promote the rule of law, access to justice and legal education. That is a high honor and privilege. In addition, serving on the Steering Committee for Boyd Graves, and being an active member for over 17 years is so fascinating and, again, highly educational. As a past president of VADA, that was another chance to work across our state to make improvement in the practice of law and speak on a variety of issues. Over my many years of practice, outside activities, bar leadership, and contributions to our legal community have all enhanced and made practicing law more rewarding than just working on the cases.
The people who strive to make our state’s legal system the best are a constant source of pride. This includes our judges, staff, law enforcement, and the attorneys we work both with and against. In general, the interaction with really smart, conscientious people is another part of the law practice that is remarkable and adds to the fulfillment of a legal career.
Simply stated, practicing law is interesting, challenging, rewarding, and important work. I look forward to continuing this journey for many years to come.
6. What have you enjoyed most about your time in VADA?
There are so many things I have enjoyed about my affiliation with the attorneys and professional staff of the VADA. First, we have always had amazing professional staff who made serving as part of the VADA easy. Leigh, Molly, Sherma, and others who have served in various capacities deserve so much credit for their leadership.
The attorneys are congenial, smart, generous with their time and ideas, and true trial lawyers. This means they know how to tell a story, and how to work with each other. They are tough, hard-working, honest, and represent the best qualities of the outstanding lawyers in our state.
My tenure on the Board of the VADA, culminating in serving as President was one of the great honors of my career.
I have also enjoyed seeing other lawyers from my law firm succeed in the VADA. My partner Melissa Katz did a great job as President of the VADA during the pandemic of 2020. That was not an easy year, and seeing her success was awesome.
In summary, great people, great education, great friends, great network. I thank the VADA for everything it has done for me, and so many lawyers. The VADA sets the standard for the best we have to offer about being an attorney.
7. What is the one app on your phone you cannot live without?
Text messaging so I can see pictures of Willa, my granddaughter. This is especially true this year due to the pandemic limiting my visits and face-to-face time.
8. Do you have a favorite movie or television quote?
From Caddyshack, Bill Murray as Carl Spackler: “I’d keep playing. I don't think the heavy stuff’s gonna come down for quite a while.”
9. What movie or TV show can you watch over and over again, no matter how many times you have seen it?
Caddyshack, Animal House, Christmas Vacation, Goldfinger.
10. What is at the top of your bucket list?
Make a hole in one.
11. What was your undergraduate major?
12. What was your first job?
Paper boy, lawn mowing, working for a moving company.
13. When I am not at the office, I like to …
Play golf, tennis, bike, kayak, fish, waterski, and spend time with my family at our house in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
14. If I wasn’t practicing law, I would be …
Working in Financial Services or Analysis.
15. What would your courtroom walk-up music be?
John Fogerty’s Centerfield … “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play.”
16. What is your favorite travel spot?
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
17 What super power do you wish you had?
Faith in God.
18. What book is currently on your bedside table?
The Quotable Jefferson and Good to Great.
19. What is your definition of success?
On the last day of your career, when you finally retire and turn out the lights for the last time, does anyone notice, and did you truly leave the practice of law and the legal system in our State better. I hope and pray to reach that goal.
And when you do retire, do you have family, friends, and colleagues to share your good fortune on the next step in the journey of life. I hope and pray to reach that goal as well.