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
Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation (2021)
Named to Virginia Lawyers Hall of Fame (2020)
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
Other Honors and Awards
• Listed in The Best Lawyers in America in the field of appellate law since 2008
• 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; faculty member on all subsequent Summits
• 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 on national Executive Board of American Bar Association’s Council of Appellate Lawyers (2020-22)
• Served as program planner and course moderator for Virginia CLE full-day Appellate Advocacy Program (2012) and two-day Appellate Advocacy Academy (2022)
• Delivered Professionalism lecture at the Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law (Campbell University) (2009)
Work of Distinction
• Toraish v. Lee, 293 Va. 262 (2017)
Obtained reversal in wrongful-death case arising from medical malpractice
• Ramsey v. Commissioner of Highways, 289 Va. 490 (2015)
Secured right of landowner to introduce evidence of condemnor’s pre-condemnation appraisal of property
• Dean v. Morris, 287 Va. 531 (2014)
Obtained reversal of judgment finding a contract to make a will
• Coalson v. Canchola, 287 Va. 242 (2014)
Secured favorable ruling regarding timeliness of notice of appeal
• PKO Ventures v. Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Auth., 286 Va. 174 (2013)
Reversal of condemnation of property for economic-development purposes
• 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; member, VBA Board of Governors 2021-24)
• Virginia Trial Lawyers Association (past member, Board of Governors)
• American Bar Association (Council of Appellate Lawyers)
• Boyd Graves Conference (2007-22)