This month’s spotlighted VADA member is Michael H. Gladstone of McCandlish Holton in Richmond. A graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Richmond School of Law, Mike served on the VADA’s Board of Directors from 2004 to 2007. He also is a past Chair of VADA’s Legislative Committee, on which he has served since 1996.
1. Where were you born?
In a hospital, in Ahoskie, North Carolina.
2. Spouse? Children? Pets?
Married way up, to Ann F. Hagan of Roanoke, on April 25, 1987. We have four daughters, three grandchildren, and currently, one dachshund.
3. What type of law do you practice?
Civil litigation and immigration.
4. How long have you been a member of VADA?
When I was first eligible, which means around 1984 or 1985.
5. What have you enjoyed most about your time in VADA?
The annual meetings, the collegiality, and the educational support are tops on the list. My participation on the legislative committee has been very rewarding.
6. What do you like most about practicing law?
Assisting people in tough situations. Good outcomes.
7. What was your favorite subject in school?
8. What was your first job?
Grocery store stock clerk.
9. What is the best book you have ever read?
The Last Lion by William Manchester.
10. What is the one item you cannot live without?
It’s a tie: my pocket knife and dental floss.
11. What is your favorite travel spot?
Elbow Cay, Abacos, Bahamas.
12. What is at the top of your bucket list?
To explore western Australia.
13. What song or movie title best describes your personality?
“I May Be Used (But Baby I Ain’t Used Up),” by Waylon Jennings (1984).
14. What is your favorite movie, TV show, or podcast?
Podcast, The History of English.
15. What is your favorite sports team?
Any team coached by Tony Bennett,
Bronco Mendenhall, or Brian O’Connor.
16. When I am not in the office, I like to …
See my family, do projects, hunt, and fish.
17. If I wasn’t practicing law, I would be …
Somewhere on a boat.
18. What is something even your friends probably don’t know about you?
There are beers I will not drink.
19. Who is your hero and why?
My mom. She set a standard for faith, devotion and service to family and friends, and humility and gentleness that I will never achieve, but to which I will always aspire.
20. What advice would you give someone who just passed the bar?
Law practice has never been more challenging. Lawyers have never had more demands placed upon them. Focus on what you can control, which is principally yourself, your attitudes, and what you do. Work hard, thoughtfully, ethically, honestly, and soberly. Accept responsibility for mistakes and misjudgments—they will occur. Regardless of how others may behave, take the high road. Find an area you like and be the best you can in that area—become a genuine subject matter expert. Understand that technical proficiency, while essential, is only part of successful practice. Understand that what clients need and really value is your judgment. No matter how smart you are, accept that judgment comes with experience, which takes time to acquire. Accept that you cannot control everyone and everything, and there will be frustrating, even dazzlingly unfair, outcomes. There also will be surprise wins. Don’t trust the highs or the lows—learn from both. Recognize the lawyer’s limited role in our system. Remember it’s the client’s case. Accept that rewarding remuneration generally follows excellent lawyering, but poor lawyering practically guarantees poor remuneration. Most importantly, cultivate a life, personal fulfillment, and identity outside law practice. Define yourself as a lawyer by who you are, not who you are by being a lawyer.