Steven M. Stancliff

Steve advises commercial ship owners, salvors, ship repairers and their insurers in responding to collisions, groundings, marine pollution, machinery failures, governmental investigations, and other incidents and disputes in federal and state courts in Virginia and North Carolina, including vessel arrests, attachments, limitation actions, and salvage proceedings.

Practice Areas


Practice Group Chair

Business & Industries

Dredging Companies

Vessel Owners and Operators

Shipyard and Waterfront Facilities

U.S. and International Marine Insurers

Marina Owners and Operators

Marine Salvage

General Maritime Companies


Honors & Awards




Case Western Reserve University, J.D. 1996

University of Rhode Island, M.M.A. (Marine Affairs) 1992

United States Coast Guard Academy, B.S. (Marine Engineering) 1984

Bar/Court Admissions

Virginia State Bar

North Carolina State Bar

Ohio State Bar

United States Supreme Court

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina

United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio








James Kent American Inn of Court

Community Involvement

The Propeller Club of Norfolk



Trusted by Businesses and Entrepreneurs For Nearly 100 Years.

CWM is a multi-service firm dedicated to providing superior and cost-effective legal services to local, national, and international clients. Our nationally-recognized attorneys advise and represent individuals, government agencies, and emerging and experienced businesses in matters ranging from litigation and dispute resolution to project finance and mergers and acquisitions.

Clients have turned to CWM for over 90 years to help them achieve the best results possible. We have built strong and lasting relationships with our clients by providing individualized service and relentless determination, while still maintaining a tradition of high moral values, mutual respect and professionalism.

CWM’s attorneys are skilled and accessible, and assist clients in matters involving:

Darius K. Davenport

Leaders in Law endorses Darius K. Davenport as our exclusively recommended Maritime Law expert in the USA – Virginia. If you wish to get in touch with Darius please use the contact information provided above.

Darius is a partner and Chairman of the Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Practice Group of Crenshaw, Ware & Martin. His practice focuses on data privacy laws and regulations, helping clients mitigate cyber risk, and dealing with the legal and practical problems resulting from cyber incidents. His cybersecurity counsel to businesses and municipalities includes drafting and review of incident response plans, cybersecurity employee policies, technology contracts and conducting cybersecurity and breach response exercises. He is frequently invited to speak on cybersecurity and data privacy issues.

Mr. Davenport’s practice also includes complex litigation in state and federal courts with an emphasis on public sector law, employment law and insurance defense. He represents housing authorities, businesses and municipalities across the region. Mr. Davenport has extensive experience developing, drafting and interpreting government regulations and policies. As a former U.S. Army JAG attorney, he has provided legal advice and counsel to senior government officials on a wide variety of legal issues.

Firm Description

Trusted by Businesses and Entrepreneurs For Nearly 100 Years.

CWM is a multi-service firm dedicated to providing superior and cost-effective legal services to local, national, and international clients. Our nationally-recognized attorneys advise and represent individuals, government agencies, and emerging and experienced businesses in matters ranging from litigation and dispute resolution to project finance and mergers and acquisitions.

Clients have turned to CWM for over 90 years to help them achieve the best results possible. We have built strong and lasting relationships with our clients by providing individualized service and relentless determination, while still maintaining a tradition of high moral values, mutual respect and professionalism.

CWM’s attorneys are skilled and accessible, and assist clients in matters involving:


John T. Midgett

John T. Midgett is a Shareholder in the Law Firm of Midgett Preti Olansen. His practice is concentrated in the related areas of estate planning, administration and taxation, estate and trust litigation, and family business planning.

Mr. Midgett is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where he attained a Bachelor of Arts degree, with Distinction. He is a graduate of the T. C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond, where he was a member of the Law Review.

Mr. Midgett is a dynamic speaker on topics relating to estate planning, taxation, probate, elder law, and family businesses. He has written and lectured to attorneys, accountants, and trust officers in the related areas of estate planning, taxation and administration for the continuing education required in the various professions.

In addition to his practice and speaking schedule, Mr. Midgett is actively involved in the Hampton Roads Estate Planning Council and the Duke University Estate Planning Council, and served as Chair of the Trusts & Estates Section of the Virginia State Bar in 2008-2009. He is currently Chair of the Virginia Bar Association Wills, Trusts & Estates Section and serves on its Legislative Committee. Mr. Midgett is also on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils. He is a Past President of the Hampton Roads Gift Planning Council, the Hampton Roads Estate Planning Council, the Tidewater Chapter of the International Association of Financial Planners (now known as the Financial Planning Association) and the Hampton Roads Chapter of the Society of FSM™ Financial Service Professionals.

In May, 2006 he was elected by the Board of Directors of the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils as an Accredited Estate Planner®. Mr. Midgett has been rated as “AV” in the areas of estate planning and administration, the highest designation available to attorneys in the Martindale-Hubbell® Law Directory. He has been named to Virginia Business Magazine’s Legal Elite, is a “Super Lawyer” and has been included in the 2006-2018 editions of The Best Lawyers in America®, where he is designated as “Lawyer of the Year”® Litigation-Trusts and Estates-Norfolk, Va. in 2013, 2015 and 2017. He is a Fellow in the American College of Trust and Estate Planning Counsel.

The Estate & Trust Law Practice:

Each of the attorneys at Midgett Preti Olansen is experienced in the administration of probate estates, revocable and irrevocable trusts and taxable estates. For many individuals, acting as a fiduciary, whether it be as an Executor under a Will or a Trustee of a Trust, is an unfamiliar situation. Because of our experience in these matters, executors and administrators seek our counsel to assist them with the process of qualifying as the personal representative for an estate, determining which assets come under their control, obtaining the proper value of those assets, filing inventories and accountings with the Commissioner of Accounts, preparing individual and fiduciary income tax returns, preparing gift and estate tax returns and making timely distributions under the estate (whether by will or by statute). There are myriad issues which tend to arise during the estate and trust administration process, including spousal claims, assets passing outside the will or trust to family members, sale of real estate, reinvestment of assets and related tax matters, advancements to be charged against a beneficiary, and so on.

The popularity of revocable “living” trusts has affected the number of estates administered under the probate system in Virginia, but it also means that these trusts must be administered (albeit privately). Many decedents who established living trusts did not fully fund them (in other words, re-title assets into the name of their trust), requiring those assets to be administered through the very probate system they sought to avoid. Until the assets are passed through probate and legally transferred to the trust, the intended wishes of the decedent cannot be carried out, and the beneficiaries of the trust cannot receive their inheritance.

Given the number and significance of issues which can (and do) arise in the administration of an estate or trust, no matter how small or large, experienced counsel is advisable for all fiduciaries. Our commitment is to provide timely and accurate guidance to our executor, administrator, trustee and conservator clients so that they may meet the various fiduciary obligations to the beneficiaries of the estate or trust which they administer.

Midgett Preti Olansen:

The roots of Midgett Preti Olansen begin with founding of The Trust & Estates Law Firm in 1999 by John Midgett as a solo, boutique estate planning firm specializing in planning for the protection and efficient transfer of family wealth from one generation to another. Building on his commitment to excellence, the firm has been able to carefully grow to include eight exceptional attorneys who not only carry on Mr. Midgett’s original vision of providing preeminent family wealth transfer planning, but are able to offer a more robust, diverse set of legal services to its clients.

Within our primary practice groups, clients will find a multitude of sub-specialty practice areas, including, basic and advanced estate planning, asset protection planning, will contests, trustee risk mitigation, estate and gift tax planning, guardianship and conservatorship, special needs trusts, closely held business law, small business planning, business succession planning, audit resolution, tax collection and tax preparation. The attorneys of the firm have over one hundred years of combined experience in these complex practice areas.

William E. Franczek

Bill Franczek is a partner with Vandeventer Black and is in the Firm’s Norfolk office. Bill was formerly a civil engineer working in construction, and his practice focuses on construction law, public contract law, and alternative dispute resolution. His extensive background in the construction field includes commercial building projects, highway projects, power plants, pulp and paper mills, rail projects, petrochemical facilities, airports, and marine terminals.

Regionally, nationally and internationally, Bill handles claim preparation, negotiation, and litigation/arbitration on behalf of construction industry clients. His experience includes privately-owned projects; federal, state and local public projects; and hybrid developments such as public-private partnership projects. His clients span across the construction industry and include owners and developers of large projects, general contractors, subcontractors, design professionals, and suppliers. Bill has also served in leadership roles in many construction trade associations, including the ABA Forum on Construction Law, The Associated General Contractors of Virginia, Builders and Contractors Exchange of Hampton Roads Virginia, The Associated Builders and Contractors of Virginia, and the Hampton Roads Chapter of the Design Build Institute of America.

Bill is regarded as an expert in mediation, arbitration and conflict management. He is a member of the American Arbitration Association’s National and International Construction Panel for arbitrators and mediators as well as its Mega Project Panel List, from which he has served across the nation as a neutral in all types of construction disputes. Bill is also a Fellow in the College of Commercial Arbitrators and has served on over 200 ADR matters both privately and for the AAA. He is also currently a member of several Dispute Resolution Boards across the country.

Bill was recently inducted as a Fellow into the American College of Construction Lawyers, a national organization of lawyers who have demonstrated skill, experience and high standards of professional and ethical conduct in the practice of construction law, and who are dedicated to excellence in the specialized practice of construction law.

The Construction Law Practice:

Our Construction attorneys team with our construction clients to help them achieve business vision and goals, solve problems, and resolve disputes. Our mission doing so is to provide our construction clients with excellent, innovative, and cost effective legal services for our clients. In fulfilling that mission, we bring our Construction Practice Group’s wide array of both legal and practical construction project experiences to our clients.

Vandeventer Black’s Construction Law services include:

· Contract negotiations and preparations, including company formations, teaming agreements, joint ventures, and project financing
· Contract and other disputes resolution, including claims analysis, claims preparation, and claims resolution through mechanic’s liens, payment bonds, mediation, arbitration, litigation or other disputes processes
· Safety, environmental and other regulatory compliance, including assessments, action planning, administrative hearings, and appellate proceedings
· Employment contracts, wages and regulatory compliance, including wage determinations, benefits, right-to-work laws, labor agreements, and non-competes
· Procurement fraud compliance, including false claims acts, qui tam actions, whistleblower matters, crimes against corporations, and white collar criminal actions

Our Construction Law experiences include projects of varied sizes, types, and complexity, including vertical, horizontal, heavy civil, and industrial construction projects, and including many types of projects within those sectors such as commercial buildings, multi-family housing projects, airports, marine terminals, shipyards, bridges, highways, schools, hospitals, electric power generation facilities, and wastewater treatment plants. Our clients include Fortune 500 companies, state and local government agencies, architecture and engineering firms, international, regional and local contractors, specialty subcontractors, and suppliers.

While disputes are an unfortunate aspect of construction, we focus on preventive law to help our clients evaluate risks and avoid disputes, but for those that cannot be avoided identify issues early to help develop prompt, effective and cost-efficient solutions. Our training and internal assessments improve our clients’ business processes, and when needed we provide in-the-field assessments and advice to identify issues and formulate solutions for them.

Our Construction Team members include attorneys with field experience, civil and mechanically degreed engineers, a registered professional engineer, and a registered architect with extensive experience in forensic architecture. Our Construction Team attorneys are licensed in a variety of states including Virginia, North Carolina, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Florida, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York, and have handled construction matters nationally and internationally.

Vandeventer Black LLP:

We are a dynamic business and litigation law firm established in 1883. We focus on responsiveness and results while providing internationally recognized services across a wide variety of legal sectors. Headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, our accomplished attorneys assist clients from offices located in Virginia, North Carolina and Germany.

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, including bankruptcy and collections, commercial transactions, creditors’ rights, criminal defense, director and officer liability, eminent domain and land use, environmental, ERISA, intellectual property, labor and employment, maritime and admiralty, professional liability, regulatory compliance, trust and estate planning, and workers’ compensation. Vandeventer Black routinely represents clients in administrative proceedings, alternative dispute resolution, litigation, and appeals.

Merritt J. Green

In 2004, Merritt Green founded General Counsel, P.C. Under his leadership, General Counsel, P.C. has steadily grown to become a full-service law firm providing comprehensive legal services for businesses ranging from start-up to multi-billion dollar organizations.

Merritt serves as an outside general counsel to clients by providing guidance on legal issues confronting businesses, non-profit organizations and executives ranging from contracts and agreements to the structuring of corporate transactions and business formations. Merritt also represents businesses in all aspects of labour and employment law, including employment agreements, discrimination, wrongful termination, and harassment matters. In this regard, Merritt is a frequent lecturer on labour and employment law issues for human resource professionals and business executives.

Merritt, and other General Counsel, P.C. attorneys, also serve as U.S. Counsel for numerous foreign clients.

Merritt received his J.D., cum laude, from the Syracuse University College of Law (1997). At Syracuse, he was an Associate Editor of the Syracuse Law Review and was Editor-in-Chief of The Labor Lawyer, the publication of the American Bar Association Labor and Employment Law Section. He was a College of Law Scholar and was inducted into the Justinian Honorary Law Society. Merritt received his undergraduate degree from Middlebury College (1992) and spent a year as a student of Wadham College, Oxford University. Prior to opening General Counsel, P.C., Merritt was an associate with Venable LLP.

Merritt is married with three children.  He lives in Arlington, Virginia.  He has been honoured with numerous awards, including 2018 Top Lawyers in Virginia (The Legal Network); Client Champion – Gold (Martindale Hubbell); and as a 2016 National Eagle Scout Association Outstanding Eagle Scout Award Recipient.

Located in McLean, VA, just miles outside Washington, D.C., General Counsel, P.C. represents businesses, non-profit organizations, and individuals throughout the Washington, D.C. Metro Area and throughout the United States.

Firm Description:

With a team of ten attorneys, General Counsel, P.C. represents clients in four (4) core areas of law.

  1. Employment Law: General Counsel, P.C. represents local, national and foreign entities as employment law counsel.  Our employment counsel encompasses the entire breadth of the employment relationship – from hiring to firing (and beyond).  We strategically work with clients to structure their employment relationships to comply with local, state and federal laws while balancing business goals.  We assist with any/all employment documentation from offer letters, employment agreements, restrictive covenants (non-compete agreements), employee handbooks, employment policies and procedures, and severance/separation agreements.  We work with clients on day-to-day employment matters ranging from compliance with employment laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (“Title VII), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”) or the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), to state and local employment laws.  We help clients navigate and avoid employment-related obstacles during the employment relationship and, when necessary when terminating employees.  General Counsel, P.C. truly serves as a trusted advisor on employment matters to our clients regionally and throughout the United States.
  1. Corporate / Business Law: General Counsel, P.C. provides comprehensive corporate / business law representation to businesses within the Washington, DC Metro area and across the United States.  Our attorneys represent clients for the entire business lifecycle.  We help with business formation matters from determining where the entity should be established (Virginia or Delaware) to entity selection and drafting organizational documents (shareholder agreements, bylaws or operating agreements).  We help our clients with day-to-day business representation related to conducting business.  We draft and prepare business contracts, review and negotiate non-disclosure agreements, and help clients navigate federal and state and local regulatory and administrative requirements.  Finally, we advise our clients on business transactions including mergers, acquisitions and divestitures.  We serve as the outside general counsel to our clients.
  1. State/Federal Litigation: General Counsel, P.C. has a strong team of attorneys that represent clients in state and federal court litigation, in arbitration and mediation proceedings, and before state and federal administrative agencies and regulators.  Importantly, whenever possible, our attorneys proactively work with clients to avoid and amicably resolve disputes.  Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, our strongest litigation presence is within Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.  However, as appropriate, we serve as counsel for clients in litigation and/or arbitration proceedings throughout the United States (either as lead counsel or finding and managing local counsel).
  1. Government Contract Law: General Counsel, P.C. represents businesses doing business with the United States Government.  Government contractors need legal counsel with specialized knowledge and experience working with state and federal government agencies.  Our attorneys have the knowledge and skills to represent clients in contract formation and contract performance. We resolve government contract disputes at all levels, draft documents such as teaming and subcontractor agreements, and counsel clients through all issues related to contract administration.  Our attorneys are able to resolve disputes with government customers without resorting to costly litigation that can damage ongoing business relationships.  But, when necessary, we file bid protests and pursue contract claims against the government. We have been involved in numerous bid protests and know what it takes to succeed at every available forum, including state and federal courts.

For more information on how General Counsel, P.C. can assist, please contact its Founder/Managing Partner, Merritt Green at 703-556-0411 or or visit our website: or


Tanzeela Ahmad

Tanzeela Ahmad is an Associate in the Washington, D.C. Region office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counseling.

Jackson Lewis is a founding member of L&E Global, an international alliance of independent law firms. More information can be found on our L&E Global page.

Firm Overview:

Jackson Lewis P.C. is a law firm with more than 850 attorneys in major cities nationwide serving clients across a wide range of practices and industries. Having built its reputation on providing premier workplace law representation to management, the firm has grown to include leading practices in the areas of government relations, healthcare and sports law. Named the “Innovative Law Firm of the Year” by the International Legal Technology Association, the firm’s commitment to client service and depth of expertise draws clients to Jackson Lewis for excellent value-driven legal advice.