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Douglas J. Sanderson enjoys using his many decades of experience as a solutions-focused attorney to provide legal services to people and their companies in the multiple practice areas of family law/domestic relations, commercial real estate, and business organizations and transactions. Doug began his practice primarily focused on real estate litigation and transactions. After several years he changed his practice from real estate litigation to focus mostly on transactions. Next Doug began his practice of family law because it provided him the opportunity to work one-on-one with and help find and implement solutions for  people dealing with significant, personal and life-changing events, where he could help make a personal difference for them.

In his family law/domestic relations practice, Doug counsels and represents people with issues of or relating to divorces, separation agreements, child custody and visitation, equitable distribution, and support (spousal and child, as needed), as well as, on a more upbeat note, pre-nuptial agreements. Doug strives to apply problem-solving methods and skills for his clients that avoid or minimize litigation, and thus to save the clients on stress and attorneys’ fees. He prefers to avoid going to court where possible. To further that effort he has been trained in the process of Collaborative Divorce and has joined its local practice group, Collaborative Professionals of Northern Virginia, to continue his learning and implementation of Collaborative Divorce.

In Doug’s business and commercial real estate practices, which both also are non-litigation practices, he advises and advocates for owners and operators of businesses, including real estate office building and retail owners and tenants, asset advisors, business investors, and developers. His practice includes providing legal counsel for the acquisition, development, construction, leasing and sale of properties such as office buildings, retail properties, communications towers, mixed-use developments and condominiums; the negotiation, amendment and documentation of commercial, retail and telecommunications/celltower leases and of real estate-secured loans; the organization and financing of business entities; the organization of property owners’ associations; and the foreclosure of real estate-secured loans. Where real estate litigation is needed, he works with others in the firm to support our clients.

  • J.D., George Washington University’s National Law Center
  • B.A. (Economics), Trinity College, Hartford, CT
  • Virginia
  • District of Columbia

“Virginia Business” magazine has named Doug as one of its “Legal Elite” attorneys in Virginia, in the practice area of family law, in every year in the past decade plus, based on a statewide survey of attorneys by the magazine. He also has been named a “SuperLawyer” for the Washington, D.C. metropolitan and/or northern Virginia areas, by the magazines of the same name for the past decade or more; an Avvo Rated Top Lawyer; one of The Best Lawyers in America©; has been listed in Who’s Who publications for the South and Southwest, for America, for American Law, and for the World; and has been named by American Registry as one of “Americas Most Honored Lawyers - Top 1%.”

He is an AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated attorney, the highest rating from Martindale-Hubbell®. In 2016, Doug was selected by the Fairfax Federation of Citizens Associations to receive a Certificate of Merit for his then-25 years of pro-bono legal service to the citizens of Fairfax County as legal counsel for the Arts Council of Fairfax County (today known as ArtsFairfax). Doug was honored in 2023 both by the Virginia Access to Justice Commission as a Commission Pro Bono Service Honor Roll Member for his pro bono efforts over the past years, and by Legal Services of Northern Virginia as a member of its 6.1 Pro Bono Club, for pro bono services provided.

Doug has been an active volunteer in northern Virginia.  He has served since 1991 as volunteer legal counsel to ARTSFAIRFAX (formerly Arts Council of Fairfax County).  He has served as a member of the boards of directors of his family’s swim and tennis club, Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Inc. (of which he served as President from 1993 through 1996), Temple Rodef Shalom,  and the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce.  He has served on the Site Selection Committee for Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia and on the Board of Directors of Communities of Faith United for Housing.

Outside the office, Doug enjoys spending time with his wife and, when they are home, his adult children, and reading, sharing emailed jokes, surfing the Internet, and traveling.

One reason that I offer Collaborative Divorce as one option for separating families is the gentler, less antagonistic nature of the process, as shown in this two-minute video, by the International Academy of Collaborative Practice. As IACP asks, “10 years from now, how will your children tell the story of your divorce?”