Our Firm

We are a dynamic business and litigation law firm

Established in 1883

At our firm, you will know that you are important.

Our size and collective experience allow us to offer you the best legal advice available with the personal attention and value you might expect from a much smaller firm.

We take an integrative approach to client services.

We are a firm that represents clients across a broad spectrum of industries. Our AV® rated attorneys include qualified arbitrators and mediators for the American Arbitration Association, architects, and mechanical, chemical and civil engineers.

Others hold MBAs or other advanced degrees in their areas of practice and are recognized by their peers as being among the best in the legal profession.

When you sit down with us, we will bring the highest level of legal talent to the table.

Our expertise spans many disciplines and industries. We routinely represent clients in administrative proceedings, alternative dispute resolution, litigation, and appeals.

Our team members are leaders in professional organizations and associations.

Our attorneys serve as members on boards of banks, hospitals, colleges, museums, professional associations, industry associations, and are actively involved in many community organizations.

We are committed to serving the needs of our clients, staff, and communities in which we live, work, and play.

Our vision is to promote trust, richer solutions, and the ability for all to thrive professionally and socially by acknowledging the unique experiences and backgrounds that come from our differences and those of our clients and the communities we serve.
Historically, we’ve supported many local charities and non-profit organizations. We strive to help diverse organizations to provide our employees with multiple ways of giving back.

Company History

  • 1883

    Norfolk, Virginia, Floyd Hughes opened a solo law practice which would eventually become Vandeventer Black LLP.

  • 1884

    Francis M. Whitehurst became a partner of Mr. Hughes. The firm’s name became “Whitehurst and Hughes”, and stayed as such until 1906.

  • 1906

    Mr. Hughes resumed practice under his own name until 1912. (Although the records are not clear, it is believed that Mr. Whitehurst died or retired in 1906. His name does not appear in the list of lawyers after 1906.)

  • 1912

    Mr. Hughes was joined by a brilliant young lawyer, Mr. Braden Vandeventer, whose name is the “Vandeventer” in “Vandeventer Black”. Mr. Vandeventer had been practicing in Newport News. The firm’s name became “Hughes and Vandeventer.

  • 1918

    With the massive maritime presence in Norfolk and the surrounding region, there were numerous mishaps and disputes governed by admiralty law, and Messrs. Hughes and Vandeventer found themselves representing many of these maritime interests, both locally and internationally. As the firm’s prestige and reputation grew, so too did the need for additional legal talent. Mr. Hughes and Mr. Vandeventer remained the only members of the firm until 1918 when they welcomed John W. Eggleston into the partnership.

  • 1919

    John “Jack” W. Eggleston joined the firm, and shortly thereafter until 1928, the firm’s name became “Hughes, Vandeventer, and Eggleston”.

  • 1924

    A letter from Mr. Vandeventer to Tindall, Riley & Co., a current client that has been represented by the law firm for more than a century. Since its earliest days, the firm has been known both locally and internationally for its expertise in admiralty law, and firm clients have included many leading maritime companies and institutions at home and abroad.

  • 1928

    The firm’s name became “Vandeventer, Eggleston, and Black”. Mr. Hughes retired, and Barron F. Black joined the firm.

  • 1935

    Mr. Eggleston became a Judge of the Supreme Court of Virginia, Virginia’s highest court, and the firm name became Vandeventer and Black, and so it remained until 1948. Justice Eggleston became a highly respected and renowned Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court.

  • 1941

    Hugh S. Meredith worked for the firm briefly as an associate before entering the Navy in which he served as the CO of a minesweeper in the Pacific during World War II. Mr. Meredith would rejoin the firm after the war.

  • 1943

    Braden Vandeventer, Jr. joined “Vandeventer, Black & Meredith” as an associate attorney the following year. In 1952, nine years after his father’s passing, the young Mr. Vandeventer became a partner in the law firm bearing his father’s name. Like his father, Mr. Vandeventer was held in high esteem as a maritime lawyer, and he served in many leadership positions within the business community and the admiralty bar.

  • 1948

    Mr. Meredith became a partner, and firm name became “Vandeventer, Black, and Meredith”. Mr. Black chose not to place his name first even though he was the senior member of the partnership. The firm had been known for so long by its English clients as “the Vandeventer firm” that it would have been shortsighted to lose that designation. Further, Mr. Vandeventer’s son, Braden Vandeventer, Jr., was serving in the US Army in Germany and would join the firm in 1948.

  • 1957

    Charles F. Tucker joined the firm as an associate attorney in 1957. Mr. Tucker received his law degree from Washington & Lee University before spending three years in the United States Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps. He would eventually become the firm’s Managing Partner in 1969, a position he held until his retirement in 1997. Mr. Tucker was a Fellow with the American College of Trial Lawyers and also served as President of the Norfolk & Portsmouth Bar Association.

  • 1970

    In 1970, the firm brought aboard G. William Birkhead as an associate attorney. Mr. Birkhead, whom everyone knows as “Bill,” was a naval architect by training, having graduated in 1963 from the Webb Institute in New York, before attending law school at the University of Virginia. After receiving his law degree in 1966, Mr. Birkhead served as an officer in the United States Coast Guard from 1967 to 1969. He became an expert in the law of vessel finance and ship repair, and he served on the Board of Directors of the Maritime Law Association from 1994 to 1997. Following Mr. Tucker’s retirement in 1997, Mr. Birkhead was chosen by the firm to be Managing Partner, a position he held until 2000. Presently, Bill Birkhead continues to serve as a Partner at the firm.

  • 2000

    William E. Franczek, a professional engineer who received his law degree from Syracuse University in 1982. Franczek joined the firm back in the 1980s and served as the firm’s Managing Partner from 2000 until 2013. The firm opened an office in Manteo, North Carolina, to accommodate its new partner Daniel Khoury. Sadly, Daniel died of cancer in 2011, and the Manteo office was closed in that year.

  • 2003

    As the firm began the new millennium, it consisted of more than forty attorneys among offices in Virginia and North Carolina. The firm’s 120th anniversary in 2003 coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first flight near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. In celebration, the firm sponsored a reception attended by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, as well as Colonel Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to break the sound barrier, and resident and nationally known actor, Andy Griffith.

  • 2008

    Vandeventer Black celebrated its 125 years.

  • 2014

    Michael L. Sterling joined Vandeventer Black in 1985 to serve the rapidly expanding practice groups within the firm was elected as the firm’s 4th Managing Partner. Throughout his career, Sterling has served as the firm’s Construction and Government Contracts Practice Group, Practice Management Committee, and the firm’s Executive Board.

  • 2016

    The firm inaugurates Camp Civitan Volunteer Day with Eggleston Services to prepare Camp for hosting disabled adults during the summary session.

  • 2018

    The Mayor of the City of Norfolk presented a proclamation in recognition of the 135th anniversary of  Vandeventer Black:
    “I congratulate Vandeventer Black for withstanding the test of time and for proudly serving the region for 135 years. The firm’s commitment to serving its clients with the personal attention they deserve, as well as its devotion to philanthropy and community service, have been crucial in upholding its history and legacy.”

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