For Immediate Release
19 McCandlish Lillard Lawyers Named to Virginia Business’s “Legal Elite” for 2019
Fairfax and Leesburg, VA –McCandlish Lillard is pleased to announce that 19 of its 21 attorneys, a record number for the firm, have been recognized by Virginia Business magazine as being among Virginia’s “Legal Elite.” Peyton Mahaffey, who along with Ralph M. Tener is one of only 21 attorneys in Virginia to be recognized every year since the project began in 2000, was featured in the category of Civil Litigation. Virginia Business determines the “Legal Elite” designation from a survey conducted with the Virginia Bar Association, which for two decades has polled thousands of Virginia lawyers to determine whom they consider the very best in the Commonwealth in various practice categories. This year’s list appears in the magazine’s December edition, which was just released.
Mark E. S. Abrajano, an associate attorney resident in the Fairfax office, was named among the best in the category of Civil Litigation. Mr. Abrajano began his legal career as a law clerk to The Honorable Michael F. Devine of the Fairfax County Circuit Court and has gone on to successfully represent both individuals and businesses across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Mr. Abrajano’s current practice focuses primarily on business torts and contract disputes, but he remains an experienced litigator in both personal injury and landlord-tenant disputes. In his spare time, he coaches trial advocacy teams for the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, and he also regularly serves as a judge for both local and national trial advocacy competitions. Mr. Abrajano earned his B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2010, and his J.D., cum laude, from the George Mason University School of Law in 2016.
Peter A. Arntson, a Senior Counsel of the firm, resident in the Fairfax office, was named among the best in the category of Trusts and Estates, in which he has been selected frequently over the past two decades. Mr. Arntson received his B.A. and J.D. from the University of Virginia and his L.L.M. (Taxation) from Georgetown University Law Center. He has been a frequent lecturer at Virginia Continuing Legal Education programs in Trusts and Estates, Taxation and Corporate and Partnership Law. Mr. Arntson authored several law review articles in The Washington & Lee Law Review and the Journal of Taxation; and has been honored to have been selected as a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation. He is a retired Colonel in the U.S. Army, and a graduate of the U.S. Army War College, and is a Trustee of The Claude Moore Charitable Foundation as well as a member or former director or trustee of numerous other charitable organizations.
Eric J. Berghold, a Principal and member of the firm’s Executive Committee, was named among the best in the category of Civil Litigation. Mr. Berghold’s practice focuses primarily on workers’ compensation and commercial litigation, and includes tort liability, health care malpractice, mechanic’s liens, and landlord/tenant law. He appears before the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission and has taught continuing legal education courses in Workers’ Compensation and Employment Law. Mr. Berghold received his B.A. from the University of Virginia, and attended The Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary, where he received his J.D. degree in 1987.
Alan B. Croft, a Senior Counsel of the firm, resident in the Leesburg office, was named as one of the best in the category of Civil Litigation. Mr. Croft has actively litigated for over 40 years, having first begun his legal career as a criminal prosecutor for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Although his practice has focused primarily on complex commercial, insurance coverage, complex construction and personal injury litigation, he continues to represent both plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of other matters. Mr. Croft has served as lead counsel in more than 100 trials in state and federal courts throughout the United States, as well as hearings before arbitral tribunals. In addition to his years as a trial attorney, he also draws upon his experience as a patent attorney and as the president of a real estate development firm, which has benefited him in handling complex technical and commercial issues. Mr. Croft also has been recognized in “Top Lawyers” in Virginia by American Registry and “Super Lawyers” in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He received a B.S.E.E. degree from Washington University in 1966, a J.D. degree from American University in 1970, was first admitted to practice law in Virginia in 1971 and the District of Columbia in 1994.
John W. Farrell, a Principal of the firm, was named among the best in the field of Real Estate/Land Use Law. Mr. Farrell has over 40 years of experience before governing bodies, planning commissions, boards of zoning appeals and circuit courts, representing landowners, developers, local governments, and environmental organizations in land use and environmental controversies. That representation has included one of the largest rezonings ever filed in Northern Virginia, dozens of plaintiffs in the Fairfax County C & I downzoning, the Loudoun downzoning, and the Loudoun County groundwater litigation. In 2018, he represented the first commercial condominium association in Virginia to successfully sell itself for redevelopment. He regularly lectures on land use law for the Virginia Law Foundation and is the author of “Planning and Zoning,” the comprehensive monograph on land use law in Virginia. He is the past chairman of the Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and has also served on the State Legislative Committee of the Home Builders Association of Virginia. He is admitted to practice in Virginia and Massachusetts.
Elizabeth L. Gray, a Principal of the firm, was named among the best in the field of Taxes/Estates/Trusts/Elder Law. Ms. Gray focuses her practice in the areas of estate planning, elder law, special needs planning, guardianships, and the administration of estates. She is a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation (NELF). In addition, she is a member of the Special Needs Alliance (an invitation-only nationwide attorney organization). Ms. Gray is a Past-President and the 2011 recipient of the “Outstanding Member” award of the Virginia chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA); and a member of NAELA’s invitation-only “Council of Advanced Practitioners.” She has been listed in “Best Lawyers of America” since 2012, an honor given to only 5% of attorneys; a recipient of the “Influential Women of Virginia” class of 2012; and a “SuperLawyer” in Elder Law for Virginia and Washington, D.C. each year since 2009; named in Washingtonian Magazine’s “Top Lawyers” in elder law since 2009; listed in Northern Virginia Magazine among the “Top Attorneys” in the Northern Virginia area since 2011; named one of the “Top Attorneys” in Virginia, by Richmond Magazine and in Arlington Magazine; and recognized as a Legal Elite by Virginia Business magazine each year since 2016.
Virginia C. Haizlip, a Principal of the firm, was named among the best in the field of Domestic Relations/Family Law. Ms. Haizlip has focused her practice in the area of family law since 2006. She offers a full range of services including litigation, mediation, and Collaborative Divorce. Ms. Haizlip is President of the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Virginia Women Attorney’s Association. She has been recognized as a “Rising Star” in Family Law for Virginia each year since 2010 and Washington, D.C. each year since 2013 and was named an “Influential Woman of the Law” in 2019.
Jenny T. Irwin, an associate attorney resident in both the firm’s Fairfax and Leesburg offices, was named in the area of Domestic Relations/Family Law. Ms. Irwin graduated from the University of Kentucky and received her J.D. from the Salmon P. Chase College of Law. She began her career in 2010, practicing in both Kentucky and Indiana. Upon being admitted to the Virginia Bar and joining McCandlish Lillard in 2018, she has focused her practice in the areas of domestic relations and trusts and estates. Her services include representing individuals in divorce and custody matters, as well estate planning, guardianships and the administration of estates. Ms. Irwin is a member of the Virginia State Bar, the Kentucky State Bar, the Indiana State Bar, the Virginia Bar Association and the Fairfax Bar Association. She resides in Loudoun County with her husband and three children.
Sotia M. Kyriacou an associate attorney who is resident in the firm’s Fairfax office, was named among the best in the category of Young Lawyers. Ms. Kyriacou practices on the firm’s commercial real estate, corporate, and business law teams. Ms. Kyriacou counsels and represents clients in a wide range of matters, including the negotiation and/or closing of purchase and sale agreements, loan agreements, and lease agreements, as well as in land use and zoning, corporate governance, and company formation matters. Ms. Kyriacou received her B.S.B.A. from American University and attended the George Mason University School of Law, where she received her J.D. degree in 2015.
Robert H. J. Loftus, a Principal of the firm, was named among the best in the field of Construction Litigation. He graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 1973. His practice has focused on business litigation, and he has successfully litigated numerous complex business and liability issues for nationally recognized companies. Recently, he successfully defended a massive, complex zoning litigation, successfully defended a government contracting company from raiding claims, defended a tech company’s general counsel from conspiracy claims, defended a bank from a multimillion dollar mechanics’ lien claim, prevailed in a dispute over founders’ shares in a European telecommunications company, defended a medical practice from fraudulent billing claims, and pierced a series of corporations and obtained a multimillion dollar verdict against its owners. His practice includes all aspects of real estate disputes, including partnership and corporate matters, finance, leasing, and construction, telecommunications, and defense of liability matters.
R. Peyton Mahaffey is the President and a Principal of the firm, and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. This year he was selected to the Legal Elite for the field of Civil Litigation for the twentieth consecutive year, and to the Virginia Lawyers Hall of Fame. Mr. Mahaffey has actively litigated business, corporate, commercial, and fiduciary matters on a continuing basis since 1980, with broad experience as a trial lawyer and lead counsel in State, Federal and arbitration cases. He has tried numerous jury and non-jury cases, written and argued appellate briefs to the Virginia Supreme Court and Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and been the principal attorney on a number of reported state and federal decisions. Mr. Mahaffey has been previously recognized by Virginia Lawyers Media as a “Leader in the Law”, and regularly appeared in “Top Lawyers” by Washingtonian Magazine; “Super Lawyers” in the Commonwealth of Virginia and in the Washington, D.C. area; “Top Attorneys in Business Litigation–Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel”; “Top Attorneys” in Virginia, by Richmond Magazine; “Top Attorneys” in Virginia by D.C. Magazine; and “Best Lawyers in America.” He served a 3 year term as a member of the Virginia Bar Association’s Board of Governors; has been named a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America; a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation; and to the Fellows Advisory Board of the Fairfax Law Foundation. Mr. Mahaffey graduated with High Distinction from the University of Virginia in 1977, and from its Law School in 1980. He is admitted to practice before all State and Federal courts in Virginia, as well as the United States Supreme Court.
Melinda Merk, a Principal and member of the firm’s Wills, Trusts and Estates and Taxation groups, was selected in the category of Taxes/Estates/Trusts. Melinda provides holistic multi-generational income and wealth transfer tax planning advice and estate and trust services to individuals, families, and business owners. She has over two decades of experience in the estates and trusts area, and brings a unique and diverse perspective from her work in private law practice, Big Four accounting firms, and private banking/trust services. She has been listed among “Top Lawyers” for Trusts and Estates by Washingtonian Magazine, and is an appointed member of the Legislative Committee for the Virginia Bar Wills, Trusts and Estates Section. Melinda was recently elected as Treasurer for the Northern Virginia Estate Planning Council, and is an active member and prior Board Member of the Washington, DC Estate Planning Council. She is also on the Board for the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. Melinda received her law degree from Duquesne University School of Law, and her Masters in Taxation (LL.M.), with distinction, from the Georgetown University Law Center. She is admitted to practice in Virginia and Maryland.
Lawrence J. McClafferty, a Principal and member of the firm’s Executive Committee, was selected in the category of Civil Litigation. He works out of the firm’s Fairfax and Loudoun offices. Mr. McClafferty is a trial and appellate lawyer who, in recent years, has devoted much of his practice to litigation involving business torts, as well as fiduciary litigation, which includes will contests, breach of fiduciary duty claims, and guardianship/conservatorship matters. Mr. McClafferty is a past president of the Loudoun County Bar Association, a Commissioner in Chancery for the 20th Judicial Circuit, and a Substitute Judge for the 20th Judicial District. He is a member of the Virginia State Bar, the Virginia Bar Association, the Fairfax Bar Association and the Loudoun County Bar Association, as well as the bars of all Virginia federal courts and the United States Supreme Court Mr. McClafferty earned his B.A. degree from Boston College and his law degree from Washington and Lee University. He resides in Loudoun County with his wife and daughters.
Autumn D. McCullogh, a Counsel to the firm, who works in both the firm’s Fairfax and Leesburg offices, was named as among the Legal Elite in the area of Taxes/Estates/Trusts. Ms. McCullogh focuses her practice in the areas of estate and tax planning, estate administration, trust administration, guardianships, conservatorships and fiduciary litigation. She advises clients on asset protection, wealth preservation (including issues related to the federal estate tax, gift tax and generation skipping tax as well as state and local taxes), charitable giving and, most importantly, navigating family dynamics. Ms. McCullogh leverages her experience as a small business owner to provide innovative strategies related to business succession and the formation of entities designed to seamlessly transfer business interests in a tax advantageous manner. Ms. McCullogh is licensed to practice law in Virginia, California and Georgia. She has been named by Virginia Business Magazine as a member of the Legal Elite in the area of estate planning since 2012 and recognized by Northern Virginia Magazine as one of the top 50 financial professionals in the area of estate planning every year since 2013.
Stephen C. Price, a Principal with the firm, was selected in the category of Business Law. Primarily from the Leesburg office of the firm, Mr. Price’s practice focuses on business litigation and transactions, with an emphasis on real property, condemnation, unfair competition, business tort, contractual and conservation easement matters. He also serves as a Commissioner in Chancery for the Circuit Court of Loudoun County, and as General Counsel to the Land Trust of Virginia and to HealthWorks for Northern Virginia (formerly known as Loudoun Community Health Center), and has been a substitute Judge for the General District Courts of Loudoun, Fauquier and Rappahannock Counties, as well as President of the Loudoun County Bar Association and several community organizations. Mr. Price has been recognized several times as an outstanding attorney, including prior recognition in the “Legal Elite.” He earned a B.A. with honors, from Virginia Military Institute, a J.D. from the University of Virginia, and an LL.M. from the University of Cambridge (Queens’ College).
Douglas J. Sanderson, a Principal with the firm, was recognized among the Legal Elite in the area of Family Law/Domestic Relations. Resident primarily in the firm’s Fairfax office, but also working in the Leesburg office of the firm, Mr. Sanderson counsels and represents people who need legal assistance with family law matters including pre-nuptial agreements, property and separation agreements, divorces, child custody and visitation, equitable distribution and support, and is trained also in mediation and in collaborative divorce. He also maintains a substantial practice in business transactions and commercial real estate law. Mr. Sanderson has been recognized among Virginia Business’ Legal Elite in every year since the inception of the list, except 2001. He served as President of Legal Services of Northern Virginia from 1993 to 1996, and has served as pro bono legal counsel to ARTSFairfax (formerly Arts Council of Fairfax County, Inc.) since 1991.
Ralph M. Tener, a Senior Counsel of the firm, was recognized among the Legal Elite in the area of Intellectual Property. A business lawyer who heads the firm’s Information Technology Group, he works with software and Internet companies from start-up through venture capital investment to sale or merger. Mr. Tener has been elected to the “Legal Elite” each year since its inception in 2000. He founded the Computer Law Section of the Fairfax Bar Association in 1986 and served as its Chairman for eight years. Mr. Tener served on the Board of Directors of the D.C. Computer Law Forum for five years, including one term as President, and is a former adjunct professor in computer law at the University of Virginia Continuing Education Center.
Benjamin J. Trichilo, a Senior Counsel of the firm, was recognized among the best in the area of Civil Litigation. Mr. Trichilo has more than 40 years of experience handling personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. He has been AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell for over 25 years, and has been recognized numerous times by his peers, in Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America. He is fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, and a member of the Diversity Law Institute and Trial Law Institute.
William J. Walsh, a Principal and member of the firm’s Executive Committee of the firm, was recognized among the Legal Elite in the area of Corporate Counsel. Will advises clients with regard to a broad range of business and commercial matters, including corporate law, information technology, and intellectual property. Will also dedicates a significant portion of his practice to representing clients in the hospitality industry. Previously Chair of the Business Law Section of the Fairfax Bar Association, Will is a member of Leadership Fairfax and the Future Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Virginia. Will is a graduate of Tulane University and George Mason University School of Law, and is admitted to practice in Virginia and the District of Columbia.
McCandlish Lillard, P.C. has 21 attorneys, with offices in Fairfax and Leesburg. The law firm has been providing creative legal advice and advocacy to meet the legal needs of businesses and individuals in Northern Virginia and throughout the Commonwealth for more than a century. For more information regarding McCandlish Lillard, P.C., call the firm at 703-273-2288 or visit our website at www.mccandlishlawyers.com/.