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VBA Salutes Phillip Stone, Andy Nea

Tuesday, September 11, 2018   (0 Comments)
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In 2018, the VBA recognized two titans of the organization – Life Members Phillip C. Stone and G. Andrew Nea Jr. -- for their contributions. Life Members have continuously renewed their membership for 40 years and have reached age 70.

Phillip C. Stone – William B. Spong Jr. Professional Award

Phillip C. Stone-William B. Spong Jr. Professional Award recipient 2018The VBA's William B. Spong Jr. Professionalism Award honors inspiring examples of leadership to the legal profession and the public. This year's honoree, Phillip C. Stone, will be the award's 12th recipient since the initial honor went to Chief Justice Harry L. Carrico of the Supreme Court of Virginia in 1997.

Stone, a Life Member who joined the VBA in 1970, served as VBA president in 1997 and as a member of the VBA Commission on Professionalism from 2007-2010. He practiced law for 24 years in the Shenandoah Valley before taking a sabbatical to lead his alma mater, Bridgewater College, for 16 years, and then later to become president of Sweet Briar College after the private women's college nearly shut down, from 2015 to 2017. In between and afterward, he joined three of his children in the establishment of the Stone Law Group, PLC, in Harrisonburg.

He has served as president of the Virginia Council of School Attorneys and of the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys. In 2016, he received the American Inns of Court Professionalism Award in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. He holds four honorary doctorates, several on several boards of nonprofit organizations and enjoys researching, writing and speaking on Abraham Lincoln and Lincoln’s Shenandoah Valley relatives.

Past recipients of the Spong award include Thomas E. Spahn (2009), William R. Van Buren III (2009) and Jeanne F. Franklin (2014).

The honor is named for a U.S. senator from 1966-1973, whose outstanding legal career in private practice preceded public service also in the House of Delegates and Virginia Senate. Spong was the first Southern senator to support the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and he opposed the ongoing backlash against the 1954 court-ordered desegregation of schools.

Spong served as the 1976 president of the VBA. He was a member of the Executive Committee, the Committee on Lawyer Professionalism, and the Special Committee on Ethics and UPL. From 1974-1977, he led an initiative to update the VBA’s bylaws and constitution. He organized a study on public attitudes toward lawyers from 1975–1977.

The same year he led the VBA, he became dean of the William & Mary Law School, serving until his retirement in 1985. Former Sen. Chuck Robb said that Spong took the law school “from the shadow of disaccreditation to the brink of national distinction.” Notably, he also served as court-appointed mediator in the suits against the A.H. Robins Company (manufacturers of the Dalkon Shield, a defective contraceptive), and in the Westinghouse uranium case.

Spong was interim president of Old Dominion University from 1988 to 1990. He died in 1997, the year this award was created and named for him.

G. Andrew Nea Jr. – Roger D. Groot Pro Bono Publico Service Award

G. Andrew Nea Jr.-2018 Roger D. Groot Pro Bono Publico Service Award recipientLife Member G. Andrew Nea Jr. received the Roger D. Groot Pro Bono Publico Service Award in appreciation of his pro bono and community service. Nea, who joined the VBA in 1973, created the pro bono committee at the Richmond office of Williams Mullen and developed the procedures that institutionalized pro bono at the firm. He also is a founding member of Richmond’s Firms in Service, a group of local law firms and legal departments that organized to coordinate firms’ pro bono efforts, and which the VBA has helped expand across Virginia.

He created the Wills for Seniors program, which has become statewide in scope. Although retired for several years, he is the firm's pro bono partner and all his annual hours pro bono in nature. In 2016 alone, he coordinated 27 wills clinics that served 438 clients with the help of 98 attorney volunteers and 62 law students from three universities.

He has volunteered his abilities to numerous nonprofit organizations, most notably the Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity, the Boy Scouts and Christchurch School. Additionally, he has volunteered to teach U.S. law at nine Russian and Eastern European universities as well as to present CLE programs on life planning documents and pro bono ethics to help other attorneys perform community service.

Nea is the 16th recipient of the VBA pro bono publico award since 1987, when the honoree was R. Barrow Blackwell. Other honorees include George H. Hettrick in 1994, Professor Robert E. Shepherd Jr. in 1996 and Roger D. Groot himself in 2005.

In 2006, the award was renamed in honor of Groot, a scholar in criminal law and procedure, who taught at the Washington and Lee University Law School for 32 years and was a driving force in the success of the VBA's Capital Defense Workshop. Groot served on the VBA Board of Governors from 2001 to 2005, joining as law faculty representative. He chaired the legislative committee of the VBA Criminal Law Section and chaired a VBA board committee on Virginia’s Indigent Defense and Capital Defense Systems. Under his leadership, the VBA focused its core tenets of law reform and the administration of justice on advocating for changes to the constitution conduct of Virginia’s criminal defense system. He died in 2005.

Groot was appointed counsel in several Virginia capital cases, appointed as defense legal analyst in federal death penalty cases, and consulted in several hundred capital cases, including Lee Boyd Malvo (Beltway Sniper) and Peter Odighizuwa (Appalachian School of Law shooting). Groot regularly lectured at death penalty CLE programs, and was a frequent speaker to bar groups and specialty bars such as the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and the Virginia College of Criminal Defense Attorneys. He is the author of several articles on criminal law and the history of trial by jury.

The award named after Groot also has recognized the pro bono contributions of John D. Epps in 2012, James M. Hingeley in 2014 and Lori D. Thompson in 2015.

These honors were bestowed upon Stone and Nea at the 128th Summer Meeting in July 2018.

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