Monthly Archives: November 2017

Joseph A. Condo Receives Clarence Dunnaville Award

Chair Latoya Asia with Joe Condo and Judge Manuel Capsalis.

Joseph A. Condo received the Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. Achievement Award for 2017 at the June Annual Meeting,  Condo was honored for exemplifying the Diversity Conference’s mission of fostering, encouraging, and facilitating diversity and inclusion in the bar, the judiciary, and the legal profession

Latoya Asia Capers, chair of the Diversity Conference, noted that Condo has long been   a champion for diversity and inclusion in the legal profession in Virginia. His nominator noted that, “[a]s president of the Virginia State Bar in 2000-01, Joe prioritized diversity and created the Millennium Diversity Initiative, which in turn created an impetus and funding for the Oliver Hill/Samuel Tucker Summer Law Institute and other diversity-focused projects, including the Diversity Conference. For over 20 years, he has been at the forefront of promoting diversity and inclusion on both the state and local level, paving the way for so many to carry on that noble goal.  He continues to be a vibrant force for inclusion and is a leader and mentor for an entire generation within Virginia’s legal profession.”

In addition to serving as president of the Fairfax Bar Association (1985-86) and the VSB (2000-01), Condo served for twenty-one years on the Council of the VSB, and as a delegate to the American Bar Association  House of Delegates for six years.  Condo has chaired numerous sections, committees, and special task forces, including the family law sections of the Fairfax Bar Association and the VSB, and the VSB’s Bench-Bar Relations, Professionalism, and Judicial Candidate Evaluation committees.  He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the Virginia Law Foundation, and the American Bar Foundation. Condo, who  is a principal of  and a family law attorney at Offit Kurman, was also honored to be named the 2017 recipient of the Virginia State Bar’s Betty A. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award at the June  Annual Meeting.  

Speaking at his installation as president of the VSB in June 2000, Condo said, “People of color will soon comprise over fifty percent of our nation’s population; yet our profession is over ninety percent white. We need to expand access to the profession, so it is more reflective of the diverse society we serve.” 

We congratulate Joe Condo on becoming the 2017 Clarence M. Dunnaville Award recipient, joining past recipients, Clarence M. Dunnaville, Jr. (2012), Darrel Tillar Mason (2013), Martha JP McQuade (2014), Hon. Manuel A. Capsalis (2015), and the Hon. Gerald Bruce Lee (2016).

From the Diversity Conference Chair


Carole Capsalis

Executive Director Karen Gould highlights the recently released report from the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change *(the “Well-Being Report”) in her column in the Virginia Lawyer magazine this month.  The Report, aptly described by Ms. Gould as a “thoughtful amalgam of findings, recommendations and resources”,  issued by the Task Force on which Chief Justice Lemons is a member, lists its recommendations at pp. 12-46 of the Report.  Among the Recommendations, and of special significance to the Diversity Conference, is Recommendation 6, the Promotion of Civility, Collegiality and Respectful Engagement Throughout the Profession.  The Report states what we have long recognized and promote as part of our mission, that organizational diversity and inclusion bears the fruit of lawyer excellence and well-being, for our profession and to the public it serves.   The Report recognizes that a lack of diversity and inclusion is an “entrenched problem the legal profession”, and that “a significant contributor to well-being is a sense of organizational belongingness, which has been defined as feeling personally accepted, respected, included, and supported by others.  A weak sense of belonging is strongly associated with depressive symptoms”.  Recommendations 6.1 and 6.2 of the Well-Being Report are to Promote Diversity and Inclusivity and to Create Meaningful Mentoring and Sponsorship Programs.   The Report recommends urgent prioritization of diversity and inclusion through initiatives to foster inclusiveness and respectful engagement, such as scholarships, law school orientation programs that highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion, legal mentorship and sponsorship, CLE programs focused on diversity in the legal profession, and pipeline programming for low income high school and college students.

The ideals set forth in Recommendation 6 of the Well-Being Report are shared by the Diversity Conference in its mission statement and goals.  Through its programming and coalition building, the Diversity Conference seeks to advance and support many of the initiatives suggested by the Task Force, from CLE programs focused on diversity and inclusion in the legal profession to pipeline programming for low income and at risk high school students, from supporting diversity initiatives in law firms and in the academic and business sectors, to the creation of meaningful mentoring and sponsorship programs.  

We need you, the members of the Diversity Conference, to help us in our commitment to advance and maintain these initiatives and to add your ideas for the creation of new ways we can promote diversity and inclusion in the bar and work to ensure that our legal system is responsive to the legal needs of the people of Virginia.  Please get involved in one of our committees described in this newsletter.  The Law Student Committee, for example, will once again host its Mentor/Mentee Initiative at the Annual Meeting, sponsoring two law students from each Virginia law school to attend the Annual Meeting and be paired with a Diversity Conference member mentor.  The Pipeline and Community Projects Committee promotes the Hill Tucker Pre-Law Institute, the week long legal education scholarship program for high school students of diverse and academically at risk backgrounds from across Virginia.  This past year’s rewarding program is highlighted in this newsletter.  The Membership Committee promotes outreach to membership along with social and fellowship opportunities.  The Annual Meeting/CLE Committee plans the showcase CLE programming for the Annual Meeting and the Fore Diversity Golf Tournament.  Join us this year to help prepare for the June 2018 Annual Meeting, where the Diversity Conference is very excited to sponsor the topic of Racism, Rallies and Riots:  What Does the First Amendment Protect, and What Limits are There for Citizens, Local Governments and Law Enforcement, which we hope will be a most dynamic and thought provoking program.  For those of you who are e-technology and social media savvy, unlike me, there is a need for your talent on the Public Relations/Social Media Committee.  Share your ideas for future issues of Invictus.  There are many ways you can get involved, from volunteering at a local Rule of Law program to organizing CLE Programming, bring your fresh ideas for new initiatives that can be advanced by the Diversity Conference for the benefit of our members and the public we serve.  As always, encourage your colleagues to join the Diversity Conference.  Please contact me at, or visit our website at   Not a member? please join us by filling out our membership application found on our website.    

*The Report can be found on the VSB website at


Profile of a Quiet Virginian: Lt. General Clarence E. McKnight, Jr.

By: James G. Bequai*

 He who, secure within, can say: Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have liv’d today

 –Horace, Odes, III, 29

Chaucer, in his famous “Canterbury Tales,” takes the reader on a tour of Medieval English society; with all its trappings and failings. He does so, without boring us with minutiae and the battles of its kings and princess. Dante, in his “Inferno,” brings Renaissance Italy to life; with its dynamics and the underlying societal forces that came to shape it. There is much that we can still learn from these Great Masters, for our troubled times.

Great figures, we are told, are quiet in their approach to life; yet their impact is often profound. Gen. McKnight (U.S. Army-Ret) fits that description well. He has served his country as a decorated soldier, an engineer and one of the founders that led to the Internet Revolution, an educator, author and business executive.  “Mac,” as he likes to be called, is a Renaissance man. (Google Mac for a listing of his many accomplishments).

In spite of all of his professional accomplishments, the one dearest to his heart has always been helping the disabled and needy. Never forgetting, that before making his way through the halls of West Point, he came from a poor family in Tennessee. While he has given much of his time and resources to those in need; yet the scholar in him raises concerns about what he sees around him. A divided society. Where class is pitted against class, race against race, gender against gender, and so on.

 “Great civilizations,” Mac warns, “do not fall from without, but from within.” In the military, he’s fond of saying, you look on your fellow trooper as a friend and family member. When one bleeds, the color of blood is all the same. Yet the divisiveness in our society, unless we overcome it, he fears will not fare well for our future. Mac is a firm believer in inclusion.

Richard L. Lesher, a former President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and also a pioneer in the IT revolution, best described Mac: “I know of few individuals in……who have demonstrated more creative genius or inspired leadership than Lt. Gen. Clarence McKnight, Jr.  He is a national treasure.”  I have known Mac all of my life. He’s been a tutor, guiding light, and the reason why I opted to pursue the study of IT security. Through Mac, I learned that diversity is not division, but the compilation of the many skills of our society to best serve its needs and future.


  • The author is a graduate of the Auburn University College of Business, and a volunteer for groups that serve the needy and disabled.

October Is Pro Bono Month

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Governor McAuliffe declared the entire month of October Pro Bono Month in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Celebrate and support the critical value of pro bono services to our profession and to our communities.  Volunteer for pro bono events that provide counsel, advice and representation to low income individuals and the organizations that serve them.  Call your local legal aid office or join today!

Fore Diversity Golf Tournament


The 7th Annual Fore Diversity Golf Tournament at the 2017 Annual Meeting was once again a great success.  Beautiful weather greeted our golfers on Thursday, June 15, 2017 at the Virginia Beach National Golf Course.  VSB President Doris Causey was among the honored guests celebrating our mission, our  fellowship, and enthusiastically cheering on our foursomes.  Special thanks and appreciation for the generous support of our Premium Sponsor Hunton & Williams and to our hosts at Virginia Beach National.

2017 Tournament Chair Eva Juncker is ready to hand over the reigns to new blood.  Please consider volunteering as Chair or Co-Chair of the Fore Diversity Golf Tournament for the 2018 Annual Meeting.   No golf experience required !  There cannot be a more fun way to get involved.  

Contact Chair Carole Capsalis if you are interested or for more information.  

Hill-Tucker Institute Inspires High School Students to Consider Career in Law

Hill Tucker Institute students visiting Justice Powell at the Supreme Court of Virginia.

By Christina S. Parrish, Esq.*

From late-May to mid-June, high school students across the Commonwealth are dreaming of a summer full of rest, relaxation and summer vacations. This year, a select group of students chose to delay these summer staples in favor of an opportunity to attend the Hill Tucker Pre-Law Institute.

On June 26, 2017, seventeen inquisitive and eager high school students descended upon the campus of the University of Richmond to attend the Oliver Hill/Samuel Tucker Pre-Law Institute. The Institute, an annual program for diverse and academically at-risk high school students across Virginia, provided the students with a positive introduction to the legal system and immersed them in the basic fundamentals of the legal profession through an intensive week of programming and academic exercise.

The Institute featured a robust week of programming. Students enjoyed a guided tour of the Virginia Capitol building. After which, the participants engaged in an exclusive question and answer experience with The Honorable Justice Cleo Powell.  Students mixed and mingled with local practitioners during an evening networking reception in the University of Richmond Law School Atrium. Admissions representatives from several Virginia colleges and universities reviewed the college admissions process and offered helpful advice for students with the goal of gaining admission to law school. Five Richmond area attorneys—Colette McEachin, Doug Smith, Nicole Thompson Stock, Rita P. Davis, and Stacy E. Lee—discussed the array of legal practice areas and the many paths to a successful legal career during a very candid career panel. The students even completed a session on etiquette to prepare for the many business lunches and dinners to come in their future, as well as our closing banquet which featured Dr. Dietra Trent, Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia, as keynote speaker.

While managing a robust programming schedule, the students prepared for a mock trial competition throughout the week. Daily workshops provided an introduction to basic trial advocacy skills, such as opening and closing statements, as well as direct and cross examination. The Honorable Manuel Capsalis and The Honorable Michael Lindner from the Fairfax County General District Court  reinforced their knowledge base with a special session on trial advocacy from the perspective of the bench. With only four days of preparation, the students thoroughly impressed each volunteer practitioner during the mock trial competition and created memories that will last a lifetime.

Beyond the programming and the academic exercises, the Honorable David Eugene Cheek, Sr. from the Richmond General District Court offered the most impactful aspect of the program, imparting on each student the important legacy of Mssrs. Hill and Tucker. The Hill Tucker Pre-Law Institute was named in honor of famed African American civil rights attorneys Oliver J. Hill and Samuel W. Tucker.  In 1940, Mr. Hill began winning cases alongside his colleague and law school classmate, Thurgood Marshall, and was perhaps most recognized for his role in one of the four companion cases in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education.  Samuel W. Tucker, Esquire, after serving as an officer in the armed forces, later joined Oliver W. Hill’s firm and together they successfully and tirelessly combatted massive resistance to implementation of the Brown decision through a number of significant cases. FN 

Judge Cheek shared his personal reflections from working alongside Mr. Oliver Hill and Mr. Samuel Tucker.  He passionately impressed upon each student the legacy left by these two trailblazers and the opportunity afforded each student as a result of Mr. Hill and Mr. Tucker’s combined sacrifices and service as distinguished citizen lawyers.

The Institute is offered at no cost to the aspiring student lawyers, long made possible by law firm donations and grants from the Virginia Law Foundation and by funds raised by the Diversity Conference through its predecessor 501(c)(3) Millennium Diversity Initiative.  In its first year as a fully funded Conference of the Virginia State Bar, the Hill Tucker Institute is perhaps the most rewarding budgeted item for the Diversity Conference as it continues to further its mission of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.  Once again this year, the Diversity Conference is grateful to the Virginia Law Foundation for this year’s grant, without which the continued success of the Institute would not be possible.  

Finally, the success of the Institute would not be possible without a dedicated core of volunteer attorneys from the Young Lawyers Conference, the Hill Tucker Bar Association and the Diversity Conference.  Since its inception, members of the Young Lawyers Conference have served as chairpersons and organizers of the Institute’s programs.  This year the Diversity Conference would like to express its gratitude and appreciation to Co-Chairs Alicia Roberts and Christina Parrish, who dedicated countless hours in preparation for the annual event and then provided guidance and mentorship to the students throughout the week.    

Above all, the Institute represents opportunity. Mr. Oliver Hill and Mr. Samuel Tucker labored to ensure that each participant can not only have a seat at the table, but that they are equipped and emboldened to bring their own chairs. While we recognize that five days alone is insufficient to completely summarize the entire practice of law, we are confident that the Hill Tucker Pre-Law Institute lit a fire of curiosity and inspiration in each student that we hope will continue to burn and grow for years to come.


* The author was a director of the 2017 Hill Tucker Pre-Law Institute along with co-director Alicia N. Roberts, Esq.  Ms. Parrish practices law at the Richmond, Virginia firm of Boleman Law Firm, PC, and is the current president of the Hill Tucker Bar Association.    

An Introduction to the Legal Challenges of Autism


By Michael A. Williams, Esq.*

It is estimated that one in 120 families in the U.S. has a child who displays some symptoms of autism.  For families in the U.S. Military, the estimate is one in every 78 families.  As the study of autism progresses, experts speculate these numbers may be conservative.  The cost of autism to our society runs in the billions of dollars annually.

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.  Speech and nonverbal communication are frequently affected and individuals may have other medical conditions.  Globally, autism afflicts all races and economic groups.  It is 4.5 times more common among boys than girls.

Being a spectrum, the range of autism’s affects may be mild or severe.  Some individuals affected by autism may be able to care for themselves and meet many of their basic daily needs.  Others are unable to do so and are in need of assistance in their daily lives.  They constitute a protected class under federal, state and local laws and regulations; raising a cluster of challenges for lawyers, courts and their communities.  Our medical, dental and law schools do not offer courses on autism, leaving their graduates to fend for themselves when they enter practice.

Autism Speaks, a visible non-profit organization, teamed with Google for a collaboration they named MSSNG, with the goal of creating the world’s largest genomic database on autism.  The plan is to fully sequence the DNA of over 10,000 families affected by autism.  They recently reported completing the sequencing of over 7,000 autism-related genomes.

They also reported that, by analyzing more than 5,000 genomes “from families affected by autism,” they have “identified an additional 18 gene variations that appear to increase the risk of autism.”  Adding these to the previous discoveries, raised the number of autism-linked genes to 61.  There has been a decade of intense research in the area, so identifying 18 new genes is an exciting result.  MSSNG plans to make the DNA sequencing information available, and accessible for free, to researchers across the globe.

They believe each new gene discovery should help scientists explain more cases of autism.  Many of the genes are also associated with other medical concerns.

The majority of all autism-related genes affect a small group of biological pathways in the human brain, affecting development of brain cells and communications between cells.  Relating genes to pathways may help scientists target certain types of treatments to individuals with the identified gene variation.  Hopefully, the new knowledge will lead to more effective treatments.

So it appears, even with the strides made in autism research during the last several years, the overall research is still in its relatively early stages.  Current treatment programs are costly, with results that are far from assured.

We can let others debate whether the incidence of autism is rising or if it is that advances in science and diagnostic techniques have swollen the number of individuals diagnosed.  The large number of people affected makes autism important to all sections of the legal community—judges, police agencies, lawyers, and social services.  For example, trained and perceptive police officers may be able to recognize unusual behaviors as symptoms of autism rather than possibly confusing the actions as dangerous conduct and resulting in injury.  

Lawyers can play an important role in ensuring and safeguarding the rights of millions of Americans who fall within the autism spectrum.  Some high functioning individuals in the workforce may need legal help claiming accommodations so they can hold their jobs.  Other times, a family will be looking to a lawyer for help applying for or protecting public benefits—such as for medical care, education, life skills training, or housing—or planning their estates to provide for the autistic child after the parents are gone.  

There is a role for law schools too.  They might include one or two class periods training students to recognize the legal issues that autism gives rise to and how to address them.  The autism community is still under-recognized and underserved.

*   The author is a Virginia lawyer who has contributed over the years to organizations that work with the disabled and autistic community.  He is general counsel to the David H. Lawson Foundation, an organization that serves the intellectually and developmentally disabled community, which helps provide badly needed dental services.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  The Diversity Conference was a co-sponsor of the Autism and the Practice of Law CLE presentation at the 2017 Annual Meeting.    If you are a disability or special needs attorney and wish to collaborate with the Diversity Conference on a legal educational programs focused on disability law or the disability community at large, please contact Chair Carole H. Capsalis, at