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2023 Small-Firm Conference and Regional Bench-Bar Forum


11th Annual Small-Firm Conference and Regional Bench-Bar Forum

Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, Abingdon, VA
1 Partnership Circle, Abingdon, VA 24210


September 22, 2023
8:30 am – 4:45 pm


Live In-Person Event for Attorneys Practicing in the 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th Judicial Circuits

LIVE – Virtual Option Available Statewide


CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDITS

MCLE Credit Approved for (7.0) credit hours including (2.0) hours for Ethics by VA MCLE Board for both Live & Interactive attendees.

MCLE Credit Approved for (7.0) credit hours including (2.0) hours for Ethics by VA MCLE Board for both Live & Interactive attendees


Event Sponsors

Lunch Sponsor

The McCammon Group, Ltd., Leaders in Dispute Resolution
6641 W. Broad Street, Suite 400, Richmond, Virginia 23230, 888-343-0922

The McCammon Group Logo

Platinum Sponsor

ALPS, The Nation’s Largest Direct Writer of Lawyers’ Malpractice Insurance
1-800-367-2577, www.alpsnet.com/corporate-home

The McCammon Group Logo


For more information, please contact:

SARAH ANGLES
Human Resources Officer
Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society
email: sangles@svlas.org
phone: 276.783.8300, ext. 2009


Live In-Person Event for Fully Vaccinated Attorneys Practicing in the 27th, 28th, 29th, and 30th Judicial Circuits
Virtual Option Available Statewide

8:30-8:45Welcoming Remarks, Etc.
~ The Honorable C. Randall Lowe, Judge, 28th Judicial Circuit of Virginia
~ Chidi James, Esq., President, Virginia State Bar
8:45-9:45RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE AND ETHICS LAW (PART 1)
(1 HOUR ETHICS)

~ James McCauley, Esq., Former Legal Ethics Counsel for the Virginia State Bar
~ Jennifer Bockhorst, Assistant United States Attorney, Abingdon Office
9:45-10:45Dual Tracks: Choose 1 of 2 Presentations To Attend

FAMILY LAW UPDATE
~ David Scyphers, Esq., Partner, Scyphers & Austin, Attorneys at Law
~ Faith Esposito, Esq., Partner, Dillow & Esposito Law Office
~ Heather Howard, Esq., Partner, Jessee, Read & Howard, PC

OR

BREVITY IS ENJOINED: PLEADING IN THE AGE OF CHATGPT

~ John Koehler, Esq. Of Counsel, Law Offices of James Steele
10:45-11:00Break
11:00-12:00LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
~ Terry G. Kilgore, Esq., Majority Leader, Fourth District, Virginia House of Delegates
~ William C. Wampler III, Esq., Delegate, Fourth District, Virginia House of Delegates
12:00-12:30Grab Lunch and Take Your Seat for the Next Presentation 
~ Lunch Sponsored by The McCammon Group, Ltd., Leaders in Dispute Resolution
~ Remarks from a Representative of the McCammon Group, Ltd
12:30-1:30TRIAL PRACTICE AND TIPS: FEDERAL COURT AND BEYOND
~ The Honorable James P. Jones, Senior United States District Judge – Western District of Virginia
1:30-2:30Dual Tracks: Choose 1 of 2 Presentations To Attend

A NEWCOMER’S SUMMARY OF J&DR PRACTICE
~ The Honorable H. Lee Chitwood, Chief Judge, 27th District, Juvenile and Domestic Relations
~ Attorney Samuel Swindell

OR

TRUST AND ESTATE LITIGATION: COMPLICATIONS ARISING FROM DEATH
~ Travis J. Graham, Esq., Partner, Gentry-Locke
2:30-2:45Break
2:45-3:45Dual Tracks: Choose 1 of 2 Presentations To Attend

A PANEL DISCUSSION OF THE GAL IN J&DR PRACTICE
~ The Honorable H. Lee Chitwood, Chief Judge, 27th District, Juvenile and Domestic Relations
~ R. Cord Hall, Esq.. R. Cord Hall, Attorney at Law, PC.
~ Samuel Swindell, Esq.
~ R. David Warburton, Esq., Warburton Law Offices

OR

BUSINESS LAW
~ Phillip G. Hearl, Esq., Bolling & Hearl, Attorneys at Law
3:45-4:45RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE AND ETHICS LAW (PART 2)
(1 HOUR ETHICS)

~ James McCauley, Esq., Former Legal Ethics Counsel for the Virginia State Bar
~ Jennifer Bockhorst, Assistant United States Attorney, Abingdon Office
4:45Adjourn

David Scyphers, Esq.

David Scyphers graduated magna cum laude from Emory and Henry College in 1975.  He worked a year for the Boy Scouts of America before entering the University of Tennessee Law School, where he graduated in 1979, having passed the bar prior to his graduation.  David began his legal career as an Associate with former Delegate Joe Johnson in 1979.   David became Partner in Johnson, Scyphers and Austin, in 1982.  David has remained a partner in the firm of Scyphers and Austin, PC since 1987 where he litigates all manner of complex criminal and civil cases.  David has been a Family Law practitioner for 40 years.  David was past president of Washington County Bar, and has served in his community in many ways, including the Kiwanis Club and little league sports.   David has also served the legal community as a substitute judge for over 30 years.

Terry Kilgore

Delegate Terry G. Kilgore has been a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, representing the citizens of the 1st legislative district, since he was first elected in 1993. As Delegate, Terry represents Scott and Lee Counties, part of Wise County, and the City of Norton. In 2022, Terry was elected to serve as the House Majority Leader. He also serves as a member of the House Committees on Courts of Justice, Commerce and Energy, and Rules. He is the Vice Chair of the Commerce and Energy Committee. 

Terry serves on various boards and organizations in the Commonwealth, including the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, the Coal and Energy Commission, and the Southwest Virginia Health Authority. He also serves on the Appalachian Region Interstate Compact Commission, Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation, Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center and the Southwest Virginia Public Education Consortium.

Terry and his wife, Debbie, reside in Gate City, Virginia in Scott County. They have two grown children, Kayla and Kyle. They also recently welcomed their first grandchild, Nola. He practices law in Gate City and serves as the Rector of the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, VA.

Delegate William ‘Will’ C. Wampler III

A native of Southwest Virginia, Will was born and raised in Bristol. After graduating from Virginia High School, Will earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of South Carolina. Will went on to study at Liberty University School of Law and earned his law degree.

An attorney, Will is a partner at Wampler Wyer PLC, a general practice law office that that provides a broad array of legal services to individuals and businesses. Prior to establishing his own law office, Will clerked for Virginia Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth McClanahan and worked for a public affairs and consulting firm, McGuireWoods Consulting, where he focused on education and workforce issues, public infrastructure, and economic development in Virginia.  Will was elected as Delegate, Commonwealth of Virginia House of Delegates, District 4, in 2020 and has served in that capacity since.  He has been a Member of the Education Committee and General Laws Committee and a Member of the Subcommittee on Housing/Consumer Protection and Post-Secondary and Higher Education. 

Faith Dillow Esposito

*Senior partner in Esposito & Esposito, (formerly Dillow & Esposito) for 40 years, with emphasis on Family Law, including contested divorce, complicated equitable distribution cases, custody, support, protective orders, as well as a criminal law practice, including, felony, misdemeanor and Juvenile and Domestic Relation Court matters.

  • Graduated from King College, with BA in History and Political Science (1980).
  • Graduated from University of Richmond Law School (1983)
  • Partner in Dillow and Esposito Law Firm (1983-2016);
  • Owner and senior partner: Esposito & Esposito.
  • Former faculty member for Virginia Supreme Court Ethics Seminar for new Virginia lawyers.
  • Substitute Judge (25 years) for the 28th Judicial Circuit.
  • Former charter member and chair of the Bristol Virginia Public Schools Foundation
  • Recipient of YWCA Tribute to Women Award
  • Community service includes service and chair of various community boards and committees
  • (Library, Planning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, Industrial Development Authority, and others).
  • Married to Mark L. Esposito, three sons and three grandchildren.

Heather R. Howard

Heather R. Howard is a 2001 Appalachian School of Law Alumna who started her career at Southwest VA Legal Aid in Castlewood, later transferring to Central VA Legal Aid in Charlottesville.  After a few years of civil litigation experience, Heather opted for a change of pace and began working as a Public Defender in the City of Richmond.  After plenty of murder and mayhem in Richmond, Heather returned to her roots in Southwest VA.  Heather was an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Russell County and a Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney in Washington County.  Since 2012, Heather has been in private practice with the law firm of Jessee, Read & Howard, P.C., in Abingdon where she has focused on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Personal Injury law. Heather is active with the Southern States Police Benevolent Association and the United States Concealed Carry Association.  Heather is the first female Past Noble Grand of the International Order of Odd Fellows McCabe Lodge #56 in Abingdon.  Heather is a past President of the Washington County Bar Association; a recipient of the Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40” award; and a past President for the 28th Judicial District Criminal Defense Bar Association.  Heather chaired the Regional Bench Bar Planning Committee in 2016 and has been a committee member since that time. Heather was certified as a Collaborative Divorce attorney in 2014 and she is an advocate for using alternative dispute resolution alternatives in family law matters.  Heather’s proudest accomplishment, however, is her daughter, Kylie, who is a senior at VA Tech this year.

James M. McCauley

James M. McCauley is former Ethics Counsel for the Virginia State Bar. He served as staff liaison to the Virginia State Bar’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics and managed the staff in the Legal Ethics Department and the Legal Ethics Hotline. Mr. McCauley served on the faculty of the Virginia State Bar’s Mandatory Professionalism Course from 2004-2010.  For more than 15 years, Mr. McCauley has taught Professional Responsibility at the T.C. Williams School of Law in Richmond, Virginia and served on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics and Professionalism from 2008-2011.  He has served on the Planning Committee for the ABA’s Center for Professional Responsibility Annual Conference and the Lawyer Advertising Committee for the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers.  Mr. McCauley is a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation and American Bar Foundation.

John S. Koehler

John S. Koehler is an attorney licensed in Virginia who maintains a part-time practice as Of Counsel to the firm of The Law Office of James Steele PLLC where he concentrates in appellate law.  In 2020, he retired in October 2020 after more than 27 years as the Career Law Clerk in the Chambers of the Hon. Lawrence L. Koontz. Jr. of the Supreme Court of Virginia.  A graduate of the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, he holds a BA degree from Catholic University and an MA degree from American University. Prior to entering the practice of law, he worked for 10 years in publishing and non-profit administration.  Additionally, he serves as an Attorney Volunteer with the Center for Teaching the Rule of Law at Roanoke College and was previously an adjunct faculty member at Virginia Western Community College.  A Past-President of the Salem/Roanoke County Bar Association, he is a regular presenter of Continuing Legal Education Programs on Appellate Practice, Legal Writing, Legal Ethics and the Rule of Law.  He spends his copious free time volunteering with the Virginia Mountain/Valley Lawyers’ Alliance, a regional bar association dedicated to providing high quality, low cost CLE in Virginia’s Mountain/Valley region.

Phillip Hearl

Phillip Hearl is a principle in the law firm of Bolling & Hearl, P. C.. Phillip’s practice is limited to
assisting clients in obtaining, managing, selling and disposing of their personal and business
assets using his expertise in Real Estate Law, Business Law, and Estate Planning. He has handled
thousands of residential and commercial real estate transactions as settlement agent and as
counsel for lenders and individual buyers and sellers. His expertise includes documenting
residential and commercial real estate and other asset-secured loan transactions, the role of
licensed real estate agents in transactions, all aspects of title insurance, and real estate
development issues, including the formation and operation of residential and commercial
condominiums. Phillip has served as counsel to the Southwest Virginia Association of Realtors®
for many years.

Phillip also regularly advises clients in establishing, buying and selling businesses. He has
organized hundreds of business entities, including corporations, limited liability companies, and
non-profits. Phillip regularly works with business clients to establish buy-sale arrangements,
document asset and stock purchase transactions, create customized forms for clients’ use,
manage employees, craft succession planning documents, and draft contracts for various
business purposes. Phillip represents many providers of health care services and has particular
knowledge of the health care field.

As an intermediate estate planner, Phillip counsels clients on asset management and transfer
strategies during life and after death. Phillip uses tools such a revocable Trusts, Wills, durable
Powers of Attorney and credit shelter planning to protect clients from adverse legal
consequences that can arise upon disability and death.

A native of southwest Virginia, Phillip earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance, Insurance
& Business Law from Virginia Tech, and graduated with a Juris Doctor Degree in 1989 from the
University of Virginia School of Law. Phillip is a member of the Virginia State Bar and has been
qualified to practice law in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia,
the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Virginia, and the Fourth Circuit
Court of Appeals of the United States.

R. David Warburton

R. David Warburton is lawyer in Warburton Law Offices is Pulaski, Virginia.  He received his Bachelor’s degree from Miami University of Ohio in 1974 and his Juris Doctor, Washington & Lee University in 1978.  He has been licensed in all Virginia Courts and in the relevant Federal Courts since 1978, and in the United States Supreme Court since 2004. He began his career as a Law Clerk to Virginia Supreme Court Justice Alex. M. Harman, Jr., and has since kept an office in Pulaski. He has been an Assistant Commonwealth Attorney and for eleven years was the chief Public Defender for Pulaski and surrounding jurisdictions.  Mr. Warburton has served on the Town of Pulaski Planning Commission and as a Member of the Pulaski County Electoral Board. He spent nearly nine years as Town Attorney for the Town of Pulaski. He is active in the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, serving as President during the 2006-2007 year.  Mr. Warburton frequently serves as guardian ad Litem, a child’s representative in Court, by Virginia Supreme Court certification.  He has presented at various professional conferences.

Sam Swindell, Esq.

Sam Swindell is an attorney in solo practice working in the 27th Circuit in Virginia. He received his Juris Doctorate from Washington and Lee University School of Law in 1995, graduated of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 2006, and received his PhD in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University, in 2011.  He is the Vice President of the Virginia Mountain Valley Lawyers Alliance.  His research interests include legal instruction, sex crimes, victim services and rural policing, and has over a dozen peer-reviewed publications. He first was admitted to practice in 1995, qualified as a guardian ad litem for children in 2002, and has never practiced in a firm with more than 5 lawyers.  He retired from the U.S. Army Reserves in 2016 as a Lieutenant Colonel, where he spent his last 7 years teaching for the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He and his wife live in Blacksburg, Virginia.

The Honorable James P. Jones

Senior U.S. District Judge James P. Jones was appointed a federal judge by President Clinton in 1996.  Prior to becoming a judge, he was twice elected a Virginia state senator and later served as president of the Virginia State Board of Education.  In addition to his service on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, he served as a member of the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in Washington, D.C.

The Honorable H Lee Chitwood

The Honorable H Lee Chitwood graduated from the University of Virginia in 1983 and graduated from the University of Richmond School of Law in 1986. Judge Chitwood practiced law in Wytheville, Virginia for 13 years, and he was a substitute judge for two years in the 27th Judicial District. He has been a fulltime Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judge since 1999.  He is now serving his second term as Chief Juvenile Judge of the 27th Judicial District.

Judge Chitwood chairs the Pulaski County Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Best Practices Team, the Pulaski County Truancy Committee, and the Pulaski County Coordinated Community Response Team.  He currently serves on the Judicial Performance Evaluation Advisory Committee, the Judges’ Schools and Courts Committee, the CIP Advisory Committee, and the Advisory Committee on Domestic Violence Issues in Virginia.  He is serving a second term as a mentor for new judges under Virginia’s Judicial Mentoring Program. He also has been a Best Practices Judge for foster care matters since 2003.  Judge Chitwood is in the inaugural class of Peer-to-Peer Coaches appointed by the Supreme Court in 2022.

Judge Chitwood is serving a three-year term on the Board of Directors of NCJFCJ, with assignments to the Membership Committee and the Family Violence and Domestic Relations Advisory Committee.  He is a member of the NCJFCJ Judicial Responses to Animal Cruelty Work Group.  He was in the inaugural class for the Judicial Engagement Network (JEN) Fellowship Program in 2019.   OVW named the Pulaski J&DR Court one of four nationwide domestic violence mentor courts in 2020. 

Judge Chitwood received the 2019 VCCJA Award for Collaboration and Innovation.  He also received the 2021 Lelia Baum Hopper Service Award.  He has participated in the VTLA moot court competition for many years, and he is one of the contributors to the District Court Judges’ Bench Book.  Judge Chitwood appears in the Washington and Lee documentary “Intimate Violence.”    

Judge Chitwood previously served on the Education Committee, the Executive Committee, the Judges/Superintendents Liaison Committee, the Weighted Caseload Study Committee, and the Uniform Collaborative Law Act Study Group.  Judge Chitwood served eight years on the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission, with two years as Chairman.   

In collaboration with Gael Strack, Jaime Clemmer, and Madelynn Herman, Judge Chitwood created “12 Things Every Virginia Judge Should Know When Faced with Non-Fatal Strangulation.”  The Supreme Court of Virginia distributed this bench card to every trial judge in Virginia in December of 2020.  He also helped to create the Virginia Bench Guide for Addressing the Link between Animal Abuse and Human Abuse.  Another of Judge Chitwood’s bench cards, the Judicial Checklist for Motions to Dissolve Protective Orders, was mentioned in the December issue of the Link. 

Judge Chitwood resides in the beautiful mountains of Southwest Virginia, and he and his wife Pam have four wonderful children. 

Jennifer Bockhorst

Jennifer Bockhorst has been an Assistant United States Attorney in the Abingdon office of the Western District of Virginia since 2002.  In her years there, she has served in a number of capacities including fifteen years as a criminal trial AUSA and six years as an appellate and habeas AUSA. She has held a number of leadership positions within the office, including serving as Counsel to the U.S. Attorney, Acting Appellate Chief, and First Assistant. She is currently serving as Senior Litigation Counsel in charge of districtwide training and eLitigation. In addition, since 2010, Jennifer has served as the district’s Ethics Advisor, Professional Responsibility Officer, and Giglio Officer.  She has prosecuted a variety of federal crimes and handled numerous appellate, habeas, and post-conviction matters. In her role as Professional Responsibility Officer and Giglio Officer, she has on several occasions represented the United States in matters involving accusations of prosecutorial misconduct.

Prior to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Jennifer was a law clerk to the Honorable R. Lanier Anderson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Jennifer received her J.D. in 2001 from Stanford Law School.  She also holds an M.A. in Secondary Education from the University of New Mexico, and a B.A. in International Relations and Russian Studies from the University of Delaware.

Travis J. Graham. Esq.

Travis is a graduate of Virginia Tech and the University of Tennessee College of Law.  Following law school, he served as law clerk to Senior U.S. District Judge Glen M. Williams in Abingdon. He practiced in Tennessee for a number of years before returning to Roanoke, where he specializes in trust and estate litigation at the Gentry Locke law firm. He is admitted in Virginia, Tennessee, and the Cherokee Nation.