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Fellow Spotlight | October 2018 | Valerie Hughes
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Valerie Hughes graduated from George Mason University in 1984 with a B.A. in History and English. For the next 16 years she worked as a paralegal in Fairfax County, primarily in the domestic relations field, with two years in defense contracting. In 2004 she graduated from George Mason University School of Law and passed the Virginia State Bar that same year. In law school, Ms. Hughes was awarded top paper for her domestic relations class, which was taught by the Chief Judge of the Fairfax County Circuit Court. It was the highest grade ever handed out in that class during Judge Dennis Smith’s tenure as a professor. She was also awarded top paper in Pre-Trial practice.

If you did not practice law, what would you do?

"If I wasn’t a lawyer my dream job would be to write trash romance novels while building houses and schools for the poor in Zambia. Or running a tiki bar on the beach."


What was your first job?

"My first job was selling popcorn and candy at a movie theater when I was 14.  Never, ever have them put butter on your popcorn. They never clean the machine. It was a horrible job."


If you could choose a superpower, what would you chose?

"I would like to be invisible for my superpower so I can just come and go as I please. And spy on people!"


Favorite class in law school?

"My favorite class in law school is kind of an oxymoron, but I guess it would have been Judge Wooldridge’s trial ad class. He’s a doll and he made it so much fun."


Name one thing we would be surprised to learn about.

"You would be surprised to learn that I played piano for a small Baptist church for 4 years (I was terrible). At the same time, I starred as Abigail in The Crucible in high school and then lied about my age at 18 to get a job as a bartender in Charlottesville. I have many sides to me."


Why did you choose to donate money/time to the Fairfax Law Foundation?

"I chose to donate to the Law Foundation because of the obvious good they do for the community, both regular and legal. Also Al Bonin and Sharon Nelson sweet talked me into it!"


Who is legal practitioner that has had the biggest impact on your legal career and why?

"The person with the most impact on my career would obviously be Dick Byrd. I worked with him for years, he suckered me into going to law school and he threw me into a full day trial on my Third Year Practice Certificate. The other would be Judge Stanley Klein who got me involved with the GMU Legal Clinic, and definitely gave me a visible presence in the legal community. He would never hear my cases because I couldn’t resist talking back to him, even in the courtroom.  He heard me just once: 'Ms. Hughes, how long will your legal argument take?'  Me: “Depends on how long you argue with me.” Done and out."

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