L. Steven Emmert
Partner at Sykes, Bourdon, Ahern & Levy, Virginia Beach
Founder and Past Chairman, Appellate Practice Section, Virginia Bar Association
Rated AV by Martindale Hubbell
Chair, Boyd Graves Conference (2014-15)
Practice focuses exclusively on appellate advocacy in Virginia’s appellate courts
• Virginia State Bar
• U.S. District Court, Eastern District of VA; Western District of VA
• Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
Honors and Awards
• Listed in The Best Lawyers in America in the field of appellate law
• Listed in Super Lawyers
• Virginia Beach Bar Association’s Joseph L. Lyle, Jr. Award for Professionalism
• Leaders in the Law from Virginia Lawyers Weekly
• Virginia Business magazine’s Legal Elite
• J.D., University of Virginia, 1982
• B.A., Richmond College, 1979 (departmental honors; Phi Beta Kappa)
• Private practice: 1982 – 1990 and 1999 – present
• Public sector: Virginia Beach City Attorney’s Office, 1990 – 1999
• Handled a variety of litigation for the City of Virginia Beach, including major tort cases, challenges to municipal authority, eminent domain, tax challenges, civil rights, public sector employment cases
• Founded (2005) and authors appellate Web site Virginia Appellate News & Analysis which provides same-day analysis of Supreme Court of Virginia and Court of Appeals decisions
• Developed Supreme Court of Virginia’s program that provides panels of volunteer appellate attorneys to represent indigent litigants in civil appeals
• Member of Virginia’s Appellate Rules Advisory Committee
• Organized and presented 2008 Virginia Appellate Summit in Richmond
• Introduced to Virginia the symposium method of teaching appellate advocacy to small groups of attorneys
• Frequent lecturer at conferences and seminars on appellate law
• Served as program planner and course moderator for Virginia CLE full-day Appellate Advocacy Program (2012)
• Delivered Professionalism lecture at the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law (Campbell University) (2009)
Work of Distinction
• Served on Supreme Court of Virginia Professionalism Advisory Committee (2013)
• Johnson v. Woodard, 281 Va. 402 (2011)
Served as lead appellate counsel for the Gloucester 40 in Johnson v. Woodard, 281 Va. 402 (2011), involving citizens who were sanctioned by a court for filing petitions seeking removal of certain elected officials. The Supreme Court of Virginia vacated the sanctions against the citizens and entered final judgment in their favor.
• Author, Appellate Law, 45 U. Richmond Law Rev. 169 (2010)
• Author, Election of Remedies in the 21st Century, 44 U. Richmond Law Rev. 149 (2009)
• Founder of Virginia Bar Association’s Appellate Practice Section (2009)
• MacArthur v. U.Va. Health Services Foundation, 275 Va. 319 (2008)
Obtained landmark reversal of ruling that had extended charitable immunity to doctors at U.Va. hospital.
• In re Moseley, 273 Va. 688 (2007)
Designated by Supreme Court to defend trial court’s disciplinary order against attorney; decision reaffirmed right of trial courts to suspend attorneys from practice in their given jurisdiction.
• McGuire v. Hodges, 273 Va. 199 (2007)
Obtained reinstatement of wrongful death verdict for child’s drowning death; frequently cited case on proximate causation.
• CTC v. Target Corporation, 274 Va. 341 (2007)
Successful defense of $3.5 million condemnation award; several important rulings on waiver and procedural defaults.
• Alcoy v. Valley Nursing Homes, 272 Va. 37 (2006)
Obtained reversal of order dismissing premises liability claim; distinguished this claim from medical malpractice claim; remanded for trial.
• McNally v. Rey, 275 Va. 475 (2008)
Obtained reversal of sanction award against an attorney who had filed bankruptcy petition for his client on the eve of trial; Supreme Court ruled that the filing of a bankruptcy petition is a protected right and cannot be sanctioned.
• AT&T Wireless PCS v. City Council of Virginia Beach , 155 F.3d 423 (4th Cir. 1998)
This was the first reported appellate opinion in the nation interpreting the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Obtained a reversal of a trial court’s order compelling the Virginia Beach City Council to approve a controversial cell tower site.
• Hadeed v. Abraham, No. 03-1779, No. 03-1962, 103 Fed. Appx. 706; 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 13496, (4th Cir. June 30, 2004)
Upheld significant award of sanctions for the filing of a frivolous civil rights lawsuit.
• City of Virginia Beach v. Giant Square Shopping Center Co., 255 Va. 467 (1998)
Obtained reversal of sizeable condemnation award due to the landowner’s appointment of improper commissioner.
• Virginia Beach and Federal Bar Associations
• Virginia State Bar (Past Chair, Appellate Practice Committee)
• Virginia Bar Association (Founder and Past Chair, Appellate Practice Section)
• Virginia Trial Lawyers Association
• American Bar Association (Council of Appellate Lawyers)
• Boyd Graves Conference (Conference Chair 2014-15)