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TED Talk Tuesday: "The Revolutionary Power of Diverse Thought" by Elif Shafak

In this TED Talk Tuesday piece, we explore the complexity of our current times. Elif Shafak, a writer blending East and West, feminism and traditional, shares her perspective of today’s trend toward tribalism that pulls us apart and her hope for humanity’s ability to move towards multiplicity as the antidote and nuance as the connector.

Noting her multicultural, multinational, complex experience self, Shafak shares her appreciation of storytelling and individual human rights, much like Wayne Powell. A white man born and raised in the south can quickly get a label and tossed into a tribe before opening their mouth. The same way a black man can be labeled as he walks across the street at night or a Latino-looking woman getting out of her car with many children might begin a story in one’s mind that assumes something about them. Sadly, research today shows social media drives tribalism and this “clash between two certainties” that Shafak speaks of is highlighted. She points out how we are being denied the right to be complex. And complex the Powell Law Group knows the world is.

Wayne learned from his heritage, both good and bad, and crafted his future to treasure the nuance. His education steeped in learning multiple languages to better understand others, rooted in belief for our country, as well as helping other countries, and a burning passion to help the “common man” when life is at its most bleak, it’s the unique story of each client that keeps Wayne passionate about his legal practice of almost 40 years.

So from populist demagogues, we will learn the indispensability of democracy. And from isolationists, we will learn the need for global solidarity. And from tribalists, we will learn the beauty of cosmopolitanism and the beauty of diversity.
— Elif Shafak

Above we give you a glimpse of Elik Shafak’s literary works. They are all available on Amazon and worth checking out, if you enjoyed her TED Talk like we did.

Also, if you or a loved one face a dark time due to an injury, you don’t have to feel alone no matter if your far from your “motherland” or in the same town you were born. From traumatic brain injuries to back problems and mental health, Powell Law Group understands the “what happened to you” for each client is going to be different and range from simple to complex, but we go into every case with the same goal: Make sure our clients are getting the best medical care possible and receive maximum compensation to live the best life possible for their unique personal situation. Case reviews are free and our experience in helping people find justice is vast.

TED Talk Tuesday: "How Diversity Makes Teams More Innovative" by Rocío Lorenzo

Diversity in companies. Yes, thankfully these days people are trying to be more thoughtful with their hiring strategy and team structure. But why? Just because “diversity” is a buzz word. NO. Because diversity matters.

In this 2017 TED Talk by Rocío Lorenzo, a telecom and media company consultant for the current digital age, she walks us through the research of 171 companies that clearly outlines how a company can be more innovative through diversity. Bolstering up your company’s competitive advantage through more original ideas by attaining a richer diversity, now that’s a TED Talk you should have 11 minutes and six seconds for!

For the last fifteen years, Lorenzo has worked extensively in telecommunications and media, advising senior executives across Europe and the US on strategy development, growth programs and large scale transformations. Below are a few noteworthy excerpts from her TED Talk:

  • Many leaders I met saw diversity as something to comply with out of political correctness, or, best case, the right thing to do, but not as a business priority.

  • Our data shows that for gender diversity to have an impact on innovation, you need to have more than 20 percent women in leadership.

  • My generation, your generation, represent the best-educated female generation in history, but we have failed to achieve leadership in significant numbers. Education just did not translate into leadership.

  • Making or breaking the success of diversity in your business boils down to two things: Who to hire, and who to develop and promote.

Diversity in the workplace is one of the things that set the Powell Law Group apart from other small law firms. It is one thing to be able to provide a service in Spanish, it is another altogether to have an understanding for cultural norms and customs, and respect for the humanity of others.
— Wayne Powell

Wayne Powell believes in the innovative nature and ideas that a diverse team bring to his business. With native Spanish speakers, a predominantly female staff, and a broad range of ages, we embrace the diverse demographics that make up our staff. Check out Powell Law Group’s amazingly talented and experienced staff, both in life breadth and legal help.

And just in case you need a visual reason to listen to this TED Talk, these slides are just a few of Lorenzo’s interesting findings.

TED Talk Tuesday: "Why smart statistics are the key to fighting crime" by Anne Milgram
Public safety is the most important function of government. If we’re not safe we can’t be educated, we can’t be healthy, and we can’t do the other things we want to in our lives.
— Anne Milgram

When Anne Milgram became the Attorney General of New Jersey in 2007, she was stunned to find out just how little data was available on who was being arrested, who was being charged, who was serving time in jails and prisons, and who was being released. Anne Milgram is focused on reforming the criminal justice system through smart data, analytics and technology. She is currently a Professor of Practice and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at New York University School of Law.

Anne Milgram excerpts to note:

  • Two thirds of the people in our jails are there waiting for trial. They haven't yet been convicted of a crime. They're just waiting for their day in court. And 67 percent of people come back. Our recidivism rate is amongst the highest in the world. Almost seven in 10 people who are released from prison will be rearrested in a constant cycle of crime and incarceration.

  • Using data and analytics to help make the most critical decision in public safety: whether they pose a risk to public safety and should be detained, or don’t and should be released. This one decision impacts everything- sentencing, drug treatment, crime, violence.


Anne explains current US arrest stats and the simple tool she and her team of data scientists and researchers and statisticians to build a universal risk assessment tool, so that every single judge in the United States of America can have an objective, scientific measure of risk.

They can now predict three things:

  1. Whether or not someone will commit a new crime if they're released

  2. Phether someone will commit an act of violence if they're released

  3. predict whether someone will come back to court

Practicing personal injury and workers’ compensation law for nearly 40 years, Wayne Powell has seen the crime and incarceration cycle first-hand:

Fortunately, working in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we have one of the lowest recidivism rates in the country. It goes to show the system is not totally incapable of change, especially with changemakers like Anne Milgram, and attorneys who follow through with their clients, offering them more than just legal advice and council, but resources that they can turn to once they leave the courtroom. I am determined to support my clients so that they’re not part of that statistic or that cycle.
— Wayne Powell
 Click to read the full article on

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Report: Virginia Has Lowest Inmate Recidivism Rate Again

Virginia officials have announced that the state's re-incarceration rate is the lowest in the country for the second year in a row. (November 3, 2017)

The Powell Law Group in Midlothian believes in the justice system and your rights. Working hard to bring justice to each of their personal injury and workers’ compensation clients, Wayne Powell and his team of lawyers, law clerks, paralegals and assistants are dedicated to continued education which they find echoed in this insightful Tuesday TED Talk series. Hope you enjoy them and learn something, too.

If you or someone you love has been injured on the job or in an accident, please reach out to us. We provide free case reviews and decades of experience to get you what you deserve.

personal injury | Workers’ Compensation | Criminal defense | Contact us

TED Talk Tuesday: "The Human Stories Behind Mass Incarceration" by Eve Abrams
I’ve been working in the justice system for a long time, but it will still take my breath. I’ll walk into a courtroom struck by the fact that there are a disproportionate amount of people of color.
— Eve Abrams

In this TED talk, Eve Abrams talks about mass incarceration and discusses her research about convictions in the United States of innocent people based on faulty eyewitness testimony and without forensic evidence. Mrs. Abrams biggest piece of advice is to not just assume that your criminal justice system is working, but to take on the responsibility to question and challenge those assumptions for a just society.

Recently, Wayne Powell has been involved in a case that included partnering with the Innocence Project at the University of Virginia School of Law. This client was convicted and sentenced to 40 years over a crime with no forensic evidence, no testimony from witnesses, and was referred the representation of a fraudulent attorney. Cases like these are why Wayne Powell is a dedicated member of the legal community, striving to represent justice in his community and in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Powerful Abrams Quotes:

“Estimates of how many innocent people are locked up range between one and four percent, which maybe doesn't sound like a lot, except that it amounts to around 87,000 people. That's not even counting the roughly half a million people who have been convicted of nothing -- those presumed innocent, but who are too poor to bail out of jail and therefore sit behind bars for weeks upon months, waiting for their case to come to trial -- or much more likely, waiting to take a plea just to get out.”

“We elect the district attorneys, the judges and the legislators who operate these systems for we the people. As a society, we are more willing to risk locking up innocent people than we are to let guilty people go free. We elect politicians who fear being labeled "soft on crime," encouraging them to pass harsh legislation and allocate enormous resources toward locking people up.”

Thanks for checking out our latest TED Talk Tuesday, a series of posts where Wayne Powell from the Powell Law Group in Virginia shares his favorite TED talks about the justice system, crime in America, democracy, the rule of law, and mass incarceration. TED is a nonprofit devoted to welcoming highly-trained professionals, educators, authors, researchers, and creative thinkers from every discipline and culture to spread innovative ideas to national and international conferences and lesson series.

TED Talk Tuesday: "How teachers can help kids find their political voices" by Sydney Chaffee

This weeks TED Talk is by Sydney Chaffee, the 2017 National Teacher of the Year who has spent the past year traveling the country to talk to educators and social justice leaders about the power of education. Sydney takes a look at education in America, and how the classroom environment can make or break the path for social justice in our country. Education is an important issue to Wayne Powell, the product of a public school education that gave him the opportunities that lead him to a career in the military, public service, and running a small business.

Education can be a tool for social justice.
— Sydney Chaffee

One of Wayne’s most notable contributions to education in the Commonwealth of Virginia was during his time as President of the Richmond Association of Phi Beta Kappa. Founded in 1776, The Phi Beta Kappa Society advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. Its campus chapters invite for induction the most outstanding liberal arts and sciences students at America’s leading colleges and universities.

When our students walk into our classrooms, they bring their identities with them. Everything they experience in our rooms is bound up in historical context, and so if we insist that education happens in a vacuum, we do our students a disservice. We teach them that education doesn’t really matter, because it’s not relevant to what’s happening all around them
— Sydney Chaffee

The Powell Law Group is dedicated to creating a positive impact for education in our community. This year, we are sponsoring the classrooms of two teachers in the Chesterfield County Public School system. Check out their classrooms, their wish lists, and updates here.

Whether you want to help us in this mission or begin your own, remember as Chaffe said, "Teaching will always be a political act. We can't be afraid of our students' power. Their power will help them make tomorrow better." May we work together to give each student their chance.

Thanks for joining us for our TED Talk Tuesday, a series of posts where Wayne Powell from the Powell Law Group in Virginia shares his favorite TED talks about the justice system, crime in America, democracy, the rule of law, and mass incarceration. TED is a nonprofit devoted to welcoming highly-trained professionals, educators, authors, researchers, and creative thinkers from every discipline and culture to spread innovative ideas to national and international conferences and lesson series.

TED Talk Tuesday: The Mothers Who Found Forgiveness, Friendship

Welcome to our next TED Talk Tuesday, a series of posts where Wayne Powell from the Powell Law Group in Virginia shares his favorite TED talks about the justice system, crime in America, democracy, the rule of law, and mass incarceration. TED is a nonprofit devoted to welcoming highly-trained professionals, educators, authors, researchers, and creative thinkers from every discipline and culture to spread innovative ideas to national and international conferences and lesson series.

In remembrance of the lives lost on this date 17 years ago, today’s TED Talk is a collaborative speech by Phyllis Rodriguez and Aicha el-Wafi at TEDWomen 2010.  Phyllis Rodriguez and Aicha el-Wafi have a powerful friendship born of unthinkable loss. Rodriguez' son was killed in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001; el-Wafi's son Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted of a role in those attacks and is serving a life sentence. In hoping to find peace, these two moms have come to understand and respect one another. Their friendship has become a powerful symbol for forgiveness and their story has become a platform for the dialogue about national resilience.

You have to be generous, and your hearts must be generous, your mind must be generous. You must be tolerant. You have to fight against violence. And I hope that someday we’ll all live together in peace and respecting each other.
— Aicha el-Wafi

911 | Powell Law Group.png

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City is a tribute of remembrance and honor to the 2,977 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993. The National September 11 Memorial Museum serves as the country’s principal institution for examining the implications of the events of 9/11, documenting the impact of those events and exploring the continuing significance of September 11, 2001. Please visit their website for more information and donation page.

Tuesday TED Talk: How jails extort the poor

We hope you've been enjoying our weekly Tuesday TED talks about the justice system, crime in America, democracy, the rule of law, and mass incarceration curated by Wayne Powell.

In this talk, Salil Dudani discusses the problems created in our country by a bail-based jailing system. As an investigator with civil rights lawyers, Dudani reflects in his experience with racial profiling, debtors prisons, and how the justice system disproportionately affects poor and marginalized communities. Salil Dudani works as a legal activist for Civil Rights Corps, a nonprofit dedicated to researching and representing those affected by poverty jailing and systemic injustice in the legal system.

With almost four decades of experience as a practicing attorney, Wayne Powell knows the barriers that exist for individuals living in poverty, and the impact that a debtors based legal system plays in undermining justice. As an Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division in the 1980’s, Wayne worked as an advocate against pre-trial detention that is designed to punish poor and marginalized members of communities in the Commonwealth.

Here are some of the quotes and concepts from Mr. Dudani’s TEDTalk that Mr. Powell found especially powerful and worth emphasizing:

“It is easy to forget how demeaning and coercive it is to cease control over another person’s body when your society has normalized the images of arrests and handcuffs.”

“Illegal extortion schemes aren’t being run in the shadows, they’re being run out in the open, as a matter of public policy”.

“Poverty jailing plays a very visible, central role in our justice system. In our bail system, whether you’re detained or free pending trial is not a matter of how dangerous you are or how much of a flight risk you pose, it’s a matter of whether you can post your bail amount.”

"We are told that jails are for criminals, but in reality, that’s not the case. 3 of every 5 people in jail in the U.S. are there pre-trial; they haven’t been convicted or plead guilty to any offense.”

TED is a nonprofit devoted to welcoming highly-trained professionals, educators, authors, researchers, and creative thinkers from every discipline and culture to spread innovative ideas to national and international conferences and lesson series. Powell Law Group in Virginia hopes you have been enjoying our Tuesday TED Talk Series. You can CLICK HERE to see others we have shared. 

Back To School: Supporting A Second Classroom in Midlothian

The Powell Law Group is excited to announce that this year, we’ll be sponsoring not one- BUT TWO CLASSROOMS in the Chesterfield County Public School system!

School supplies collected for Chesterfield Middle School

With most teachers spending an average of $479 of their own income on supplies for their students and classroom, we began helping a middle school classroom near us.  Thank you for all your amazing help! 

These supplies will be going to Ms. Wyatt's class this week to help her get ready for the first day of school, September 4th. Learn about our second classroom below!

Ms. Jordan Liesfeld, a first year Biology teacher at Midlothian High School

In addition to Ms. Wyatt from Robious Middle School, we will be sponsoring Ms. Jordan Liesfeld, a first year Biology teacher at Midlothian High School! Ms. Liesfeld graduated from Randolph-Macon College with a major in biology and a minor in secondary education.

The Powell Law Group is excited to be partnering with both of these talented new educators in preparing their students for a successful school year. As a high school teacher, Ms. Liesfeld has different needs for her classroom than what we’ve listed for the middle school classroom we’re sponsoring. She will be helping students understand concepts like the scientific method, cells, photosynthesis, and ecology through hands on lessons and labs!

High school is when you can really start to follow your own passions, taking the classes that you want and exploring the world outside of your school. Whether it is what work you’ll do or what you’ll study in college, high school is a really important time to expose you to the ideas and information that spark that kind of interest. I hope that in sponsoring her classroom, we can continue to provide Ms. Liesfeld with all the resources and support she needs to help her students prepare for their future.
— Wayne Powell

How can I help?

Midlothian High School

1. Donate supplies from the comfort of your own home through our Amazon Wish List

2. You can bring unused loose-leaf paper, pens, pencils, latex free gloves, highlighters, folders, sharpies, paper towels, index cards, sticky notes, staples, and tape  to our office at 14407 Justice Road Midlothian VA 23113 and drop them in our donation box in the lobby.

3. You can also mail or drop off gift cards to the following places: Kroger, Office Max, Walmart, Target, Amazon.

Our school supply drive is only the beginning- we’ll be sharing updates from Ms. Liesfield’s classroom and activities throughout the school year, so there will be additional opportunities to donate again. We understand that teachers’ needs and students’ needs change as the year goes on- so we’re here all year!

It's not too late to help us give these teachers a great kick-off to their teaching careers. Every supply will help these teachers have a successful year in the Chesterfield County School District! 


TED Talk Tuesday: Ronald Sullivan speaks of freeing the innocent

Welcome to our next TED Talk Tuesday, a series of posts where Wayne Powell from the Powell Law Group in Virginia shares his favorite TED talks about the justice system, crime in America, democracy, the rule of law, and mass incarceration. TED is a nonprofit devoted to welcoming highly-trained professionals, educators, authors, researchers, and creative thinkers from every discipline and culture to spread innovative ideas to national and international conferences and lesson series.

Being a representative of the law is a powerful role, and attorneys, prosecutors, and elected representatives in the judicial system should consider the weight of their decision making in every case they come across.
— Wayne Powell

In this talk, Harvard Law Professor Ronald Sullivan talks about his defense of thousands of innocent persons wrongfully convicted. Professor Sullivan has merged legal theory and practice over the course of his career in unique and cutting-edge ways. Professor Sullivan is a leading theorist in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, trial practice and techniques, legal ethics, and race theory. He is the faculty director of the Harvard Criminal Justice Institute and the Harvard Trial Advocacy Workshop.

“Justice doesn’t happen. People make justice happen. Justice is something that people of good will make happen.”
— Ronald Sullivan
Wayne Powell | TED Talk Tuesday | Ronald Sullivan.png
Separated Border Families: Wayne Powell & International Association of Lawyers

Viewpoints Aligned

As a United States representative of the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA – International Association of Lawyers), Wayne Powell attended the June conference in New York where the separation of border families was a hot topic. Below is the intro to a joint statement, followed by aligned thoughts from Wayne Powell.

New York, June 30, 2018


UIA | Wayne Powell | Separated Families.png

Upon the occasion of the Governing Board meeting of the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA – International Association of Lawyers), convened in New York, NY, USA, on June 30, the undersigned signatories note with grave concern the recently imposed United States policy, as implemented by President Donald J. Trump, ordering the inhumane separation of immigrant children from their parents at the United States borders. While we note that the Executive Order recently issued by President Trump revoked the policy for future child detainees, the Executive Order did not address a plan with respect to the more than 2,300 children who have already been separated in the wake of the implementation of President Trump’s stated “zero tolerance” policy.

Click to continue reading the joint statement on the International Association of Lawyer's website.

As a member of the UIA, I stand in support of the statement issued urging that all children affected by President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy be reunited with parents within 30 days, 14 days if the children are younger than 5 years. We must insist that these authorities help the parents and children establish communication with one another, and make a continued effort to reunite these families.

We must put an end to sending young children in court without legal representation and without their legal guardians. I, along with many of my fellow lawyers from the UIA, are here to assist in reuniting these children and their families, and ensuring they have an advocate for them in court, and that they understand their rights.

Almost 20 years ago, I represented a Hispanic family whose children had been taken from them by an American family while in their home country handling the legality of their formal immigration to the United States. My clients, a modest, humble, religious couple returned to their home country to visit the American Consulate and retrieve their immigration papers. The couple left their children in the temporary custody of the father's employer. After they obtained their papers and came back to the U.S. "legally" and anxiously awaited their reunion with their children, the American couple simply responded that they would be taking the children permanently and not returning them to the parents.

I petitioned the juvenile relations court at that time in a predominantly Caucasian, suburban county to retrieve the children for their parents. I incorrectly assumed that this would be a straightforward process seeing as there was no reason why the birth parents of these children were undeserving of their custody rights, and the law would be on their side. Neither father nor mother had any criminal background, no prior legal troubles, and were involved members of their Protestant church and their community. Much to my shock, when I attended the hearing before the substitute judge, the ruling stated that the children were "better off" with the Caucasian, American couple. The motivation was clear. Without reference to the integrity of the biological parents and without evidence to suggest that they were anything other than loving parents, a family was ripped apart. U.S. citizenship was equated to good character or parenting competency in this case, a superiority complex rooted in prejudice. This process was grueling for my clients both emotionally and financially. They were unable to pay me for my representation after our initial appearance in juvenile and domestic relations court. I was unwilling to leave them without representing in the pursuit of an appeal. During the appeal in the Circuit court, the judge immediately granted custody to the natural parents, my clients. I instructed the American couple to deliver the children to the parents’ house within a half an hour of leaving the courthouse.

In my case, justice was done, but it's significant to know that the same racist, intolerant attitude, and superiority expressed by the judge and the Caucasian couple remains strong in our society. These opinions are even articulated among the highest officials in the land. An intolerant justice and immigration system should not be considered a new "normal" by a nation whose foundation is built on immigrants. Crime does not have a skin color, an ethnicity, a language, or a religion. Officials, citizens, migrants alike should be held to the same standard of due process.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an injustice,

call Powell Law Group today. (804) 794.4030

TED Talk Tuesday: Four ways to fix a broken legal system

We’re continuing our posts for TED Talk Tuesday, a series where Wayne Powell from the Powell Law Group in Virginia shares his favorite TED talks about the justice system, crime in America, democracy, the rule of law, and mass incarceration. TED is a nonprofit devoted to welcoming highly-trained professionals, educators, authors, researchers, and creative thinkers from every discipline and culture to spread innovative ideas to national and international conferences and lesson series.

In this video, Philip K. Howard talks about how certain professions in America are limited because of complexity of the laws that govern them and the fear of being sued, particularly in areas like business, education, and healthcare. Attorney Philip K. Howard founded the nonpartisan group The Common Good to combat this culture and reform several key areas of our legal system.

Wayne Powell understands how similar business, healthcare, and law are, mainly because of how difficult these areas of our society are to navigate.

In Powell Law Group's line of work, we're not only tasked with helping our clients navigate the legal system, but in workers compensation and personal injury.  We’re also constantly working with physicians, providers, and insurance companies. The healthcare system, the judicial system, the business world are full of defensiveness and therefore can lead to mistrust.

Bout Philip K. Howard | TED Talk Tuesday with Wayne Powell of Powell Law Group

Some quotes from Mr. Stevenson's TED Talk that are particularly powerful and worth highlighting:   

“The law is a powerful driver of human behavior”.

“For law to be the platform for freedom, people have to trust it."

“We’ve been told that we can judge any dispute against the standard of a perfect society where everyone agrees to what is fair. That just isn’t realistic.”

I appreciate Mr. Howard’s point of view that the biggest hurdle for success in our legal system is the trust of the American people.
— Wayne Powell
Powell Law Group Sponsors a School Supply Drive
 Ms. Wyatt

Ms. Wyatt

Did you know that most teachers spend an average of $479 of their own income on supplies for their students and classroom?

The Powell Law Group is excited to announce that this year, we’ll be sponsoring a classroom in the Chesterfield County Public School system!  We will be sponsoring Ms. Madeline Wyatt, a second year Latin teacher at Robious Middle School! Ms. Wyatt graduated from Randolph-Macon College with majors in both Latin and Classics and minors in Secondary Education and Archeology.

How can you help?

1. Donate supplies from the comfort of your own home through our Amazon Wish List

2. Drop off unused loose-leaf paper, colored construction paper, dry erase markers and erasers, pens, and pencils to our office at 14407 Justice Road Midlothian VA 23113 and drop them in our donation box in the lobby.

3. Mail or drop off gift cards from the following places: Kroger, Office Max, Walmart, Target, Amazon.

We wanted to sponsor a classroom because we understand that parents and teachers alike are required to buy lots of supplies for their classes, and the cost adds up. I am a product of a public-school education, and I’m a father and grandfather. My staff is made up of moms and dads too, and we all agree that the only thing a teacher should have to worry about is being a great educator and a great role model. We see it as a small investment in a classroom for a big investment in the future of education and the future of our Chesterfield County Public Schools
— Wayne Powell

Powell School Supply Drive

Educators dedicate their lives to helping children and young adults grow, learn, and reach their full potential as thinkers and as people. At the Powell Law Group, we want the teachers in our community to know that the time and money they spend giving our students the best education, the best activities, and the best support to help them succeed, matters to us. Setting up a teacher for a year of success is helping set up a child for a lifetime of success.

Our school supply drive is only the beginning- we’ll be sharing updates from Ms. Wyatt’s classroom and activities throughout the school year, so there will be additional opportunities to donate again. We understand that teacher and student needs change as the year goes on- so we’re here to help all year!

TED Talk Tuesday: How I defend the rule of law

Today on TED Talk Tuesday with Wayne Powell of Powell Law Group, we share Kimberley Motley.  The only western litigator in Afghanistan, she discusses her learning over the past 10 years from CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies to pro bono work for young girls. 

Justness is using laws for their intended purpose: to protect. Justness is a global problem. The need for justness is so great, it cannot be ignored.
— Kimberley Motley

Highlighting the hard job journalists have in sharing global injustice and helping to understand what's going on in the world around us, Motley talks about the need to protect journalists in order for keep governments accountable and transparent. 

She points out that 280 million boys and girls under 15 are in marriages that prolong the vicious cycle of poverty, poor health, lack of education.

One specific case Motley shares talks about a 12-year-old girl sold into marriage by her brother. This child is tortured after refusing to become a prostitute for the family. When Motley finally meets her while given a safe haven by Women for Afghan Women, she begins to understand the lack of education partly kept the child in this situation.

... she didn’t know what her rights were, but she did know she had a certain level of protection by her government that failed her, and so we were able to talk about what her legal options were.
— Kimberley Motley

After watching this TED Talk, Wayne Powell points out several personal beliefs that have driven his career and litigation practice for almost four decades:

  • A law is not just a piece of the legal system, but a cultural change, adapting people’s impression of justice, fairness, and other principles that the system depends on.

  • The law is suppose to be what governs behavior in order to protect the people, and a change in the law should reflect the will and the way those people wish to be governed.

  • Protecting everyone's right to be free protects all of us, because it means we have built a system of fairness. What we once saw as individual problems, or state level problems, are global problems, and are amongst the shared responsibilities we have as a part of the international legal community.

At Powell Law Group, we find many of our clients who have been injured don’t always know the laws, but feel their current injury is the fault of another person or company. It is in our understanding of the law that we are able to help clients find justice.

If you or someone you know needs help to find justice, call Powell Law Group to learn how Wayne Powell and his team have been helping people navigate the American justice system for nearly four decades.

We all need to create a global culture of human rights and be investors in a global human rights economy, and by working in this mindset, we can significantly improve justice globally.
— Kimberley Motley

Tuesday TED Talks: Curated By Wayne Powell - Post 2

This is our second TED Talk Tuesday, a series of posts where Wayne Powell from the Powell Law Group in Virginia shares his favorite TED talks about the justice system, crime in America, democracy, the rule of law, and mass incarceration. TED is a nonprofit devoted to welcoming highly-trained professionals, educators, authors, researchers, and creative thinkers from every discipline and culture to spread innovative ideas to national and international conferences and lesson series.

In this video, Bryan Stevenson, human rights lawyer and founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, talks about the hard truths of the American justice system. He focuses on the imbalance of incarceration rates for the African American male population and the power of identity in the pursuit of justice.  Stevenson spends his career fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.

After watching, Wayne Powell notes how compelling Bryan Stevenson’s remarks are about how the makeup of our prison system and how the identities of those incarcerated has changed drastically in the past 40 years. Mass incarceration has changed our world, and disproportionately affects poor communities and people of color that shapes future generations. 

As an attorney, I think it’s vital that the legal community stay committed to understanding the challenges of those who are disadvantaged by the justice system based on their identity.  
— wayne powell

Quotes from Stevenson's TED Talk that are particularly powerful and worth highlighting:   

“There is a capacity within every person to contribute to perspective that is hopeful.”

“The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. We cannot be fully, evolved human beings without caring about human rights.”

Bryan Stevens TED Talk | Wayne Powell Thoughts | Powell Law Group
Tuesday TED Talks: Curated by Wayne Powell - Post 1

This is a our first TED Talk Tuesday, a series of posts where Wayne Powell from the Powell Law Group in Virginia shares his favorite TED talks about the justice system, crime in America, democracy, the rule of law, and mass incarceration. TED is a nonprofit devoted to welcoming highly-trained professionals, educators, authors, researchers, and creative thinkers from every discipline and culture to spread innovative ideas to national and international conferences and lesson series.

In this first video, Vivek Maru discusses the importance of changing the relationship between people and the laws that control them.

How to put the power of law in people’s hands- Vivek Maru, TED Global 2017

Wayne denotes how Vivek Maru makes one brilliantly important statement, "The law should be simple and understandable in order to protect everyone. It is the responsibility of lawyers like myself not only to represent our clients during their cases, but help them understand the laws to better protect them in the future. Well informed citizens make for well functioning communities.”

Here are some quotes from Mr. Maru’s TED Talk that are particularly powerful and worth highlighting:   

Law is supposed to be the language we use to translate our dreams about justice into living institutions that hold us together.
It can feel like law is shrouded in a coat of complexity.
If we’re going to make justice a reality for everyone, we need to turn law from an abstract thought or a threat into something every person can understand, use, and shape.
TED Talk Tuesday | Wayne Powell | Vivek Maru's TED Talk
Life Care Planning for Traumatic Brain Injury Victims

Unfortunately, if you are discussing the need for a life care plan, chances are you or your loved one has had some type of accident that resulted in a traumatic or catastrophic injury.  Perhaps it was an auto accident, a truck accident from a tractor trailor, or an injury sustained while working. Generally speaking, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), spinal cord injuries, and/or paralysis warrant the need for a long term life care plan.  

Life Care Plans consider all aspect of one’s long-term care needs throughout the next phases of life. For some families, a life care plan is the first and most comprehensive explanation of the traumatic condition and its long-term implications. Each case and each individual must be evaluated based on their needs such as assisted living and rehabilitation facility choices, medications, medical equipment, and mental health services. Living with a traumatic brain injury or supporting a loved one is an ongoing process of decision making. Many personal injury attorneys contract with Life Care Planning firms to see their clients are informed about the options available to them, and aware of their clinical and legal support network. Life Care Planners assist attorneys, financial planners, insurance companies, physicians and other stakeholders in understanding the level of specialized care necessary to fulfill the needs of the injured party to enhance their quality of life.

The North American Brain Injury Society writes on their website that 80,000 people are estimated to be discharged from the hospital with some TBI-related disability annually.  

Life Care Planners are life savers for people with catastrophic injuries. Virginians suffering from traumatic brain injuries have a strong network of resources and support through the Brain Injury Association of Virginia. THE BIAV advocates for patients, physicians, and caregivers at the state, local, and federal level to provide the best assistance to the brain injury community. They have a personalized assistance programs and support groups for friends and family, education and training programs for caregivers and Life Care Planners, and conduct public awareness and prevention campaigns to reduce the number of traumatic brain injuries in the Commonwealth.

If you have questions or are looking for more information, visit the Brain Injury Association of Virginia’s website or call 804-355-5748.

Traumatic Brain Injury - What do I do now?

The first priority for anyone who has been a victim of a personal injury to their head and brain is timely access to expert trauma care.  Properly coordinating your medical and legal point of view is of the utmost importance.

The Powell Law Group knows that no two traumatic brain injuries are alike, and therefore each case should be handled uniquely both medically and legally. Your doctors and physicians are tasked with personalizing your treatment and care. You deserve the same individual attention and representation from your attorney, too.

Some of the most common traumatic brain injury accident causes include:

  • Slipping or falling on wet or icy floors
  • Assault by another person
  • Being injured in a motor vehicle accident: car accidents, truck accidents, and tractor trailer accidents
  • Domestic Abusive head trauma: spouse, parent or caregiver administering physical abuse
  • Workplace injuries: Injured by large machinery, unsafe work environments, co-workers
  • Military blast injury

With over three decades of experience helping clients and their families navigate the complicated world of everything from managing an interdisciplinary treatment team to repatriation and long-term life care planning, Wayne Powell and his firm are ready to help you find justice and create the best future possible.

If you have been hurt in an accident which resulted in a serious traumatic brain injury from an external force that has altered your brain function, such as a concussion, loss of consciousness or your brain's ability to continue healthy body functionality and obtain mental stability, the Powell Law Group is here for you.

We want to help.
Wayne Powell | Families Belong Together | Powell Law Group | Richmond VA Personal Injury.png

Pro Bono, Bilingual Legal Counsel For Separated Immigrant Families

"Two months ago, border authorities began to jail undocumented immigrants charged with crossing the border illegally, a sharp change from previous administrations' policy of releasing such accused misdemeanor offenders until their deportations could be handled administratively. Because children can't stay with a jailed parent, thousands were transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. Since early May, 2,342 children have been separated from their parents after crossing the Southern U.S. border, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Many of these detainees are asylum seekers."

If you know of a family or child being detained, please contact Wayne Powell with more information. Mr. Powell along with a network of Immigration lawyers in Virginia are working diligently to provide pro bono, bilingual legal counsel to reunite these children with their families, and help all involved understand their rights.

Having built a multicultural legal practice for both English and Spanish speakers in need of justice, the horror of today's border situation strikes me at my core as an attorney, a father, and a grandfather. With background in helping both documented and undocumented workers manage complicated personal injury and workers' compensation scenarios for three decades, I'm confident that I have the experience necessary to help these parents obtain due process in our asylum system and safely reunite with their children. There is no place for prejudice in the justice system.

Whether you need to be reconnected with family members victim of this current situation or you're suffering an injury that is also unjust, English or Spanish speaking alike, contact Powell Law Group today to see how we can help you. From on the job accidents to defective product and auto accidents, our track record for three decades stands strong for the people we fight for.
(804) 794.4030

Please share this post to reach as many people as possible, and help us find the children and parents who need representation. We want to help. 
-Wayne Powell & The staff of the Powell Law Group

You can also share a similar article I posted on LinkedIn, if it is a social channel you use.

5 Trial Tips I Learned from my Years as a Deputy Commissioner at the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission
 Wayne Powell

Wayne Powell

I spent from March 1985 until March of 1991 as a Deputy Commissioner of the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission (VWCC).  I was selected for this judicial post by the three commissioners of the VWCC who were elected by the legislature of Virginia. I left the Commission in 1991 to pursue opportunities in the private sector.  

1. Objectivity

Before my appointment to the VWCC, I had been practicing for approximately five years, three years of which as an Assistant Attorney General. During that time, I was fortunate to learn from a series of challenging trials in state and federal courts.  As an advocate for state defendants, I would become so focused on my clients’ side of the case, that I would fail to adequately consider for the weaknesses that created in my own case. This affected my perspective on the case which sometimes created obstacles for me at trial. As a Deputy Commissioner, I was required to approach every worker’s compensation case objectively without any sort of bias. I had to remain open to consider the evidence from both sides of every claim. This included weighing the evidence and considering the credibility of the testimony as well as the arguments of opposing lawyers in order to give a fair hearing to the litigants. During my time as a Deputy Commissioner, I attended the National Judicial College in Nevada where I took courses to further develop my skills in areas such as judicial writing. This helped me better express my objective reasoning in deciding cases. By opening my mind to both the claimant and defense perspectives, the cases were much easier to resolve. It also became easier to evaluate all the documentation submitted as evidence in each case as well as the oral testimony. I would say that applying objectivity as a judge for six years is a skill that I have carried from the VWCC.  In fact, in my subsequent practice as a defense lawyer and as a plaintiff lawyer, it was easier to place myself in the position of either party in order to better my case. Objectivity is a valuable asset for any trial lawyer in order to more adequately represent his or her client.

2. Thoroughness

During my five years of trial experience before beginning work as a Deputy Commissioner at the VWCC, I had several paralegals and secretaries assigned to assist me in preparing for depositions, motions practice, and trial. At the Commission I had one secretary and was also assigned a bailiff to drive to jurisdictions. and I was expected to issue my opinion where I presided in my circuit within eight weeks of the hearing date. On average, I presided over cases for several days in different jurisdictions, so there was a limited time within which to prepare and formulate my opinion. My territory spanned from Richmond, Fredericksburg, Winchester, on to Harrisburg, Staunton, Charlottesville, and sometimes to Clifton Forge. Essentially, I was on the bench 11 days of a 20-workday month. This required that I needed to be very thorough in how I ruled on evidentiary issues at the hearings, and I needed to be thorough in reviewing all the records submitted by both sides. After a hearing, I would have to review the medical reports submitted by both sides in the hearing and I would have to consider opinions rendered by the opposing doctors and healthcare practitioners as well as the doctor’s treatment notes taken in the emergency room.

I developed a technique to preserve the significant evidence presented at the hearings. While everything that I had heard was fresh I dictated a summary of the evidence presented at the hearing and some of the conclusions that were reached. This included a summary of the medical documents cited in the hearing as well as a summary of the various testimonies of the witnesses. If the issue was straightforward and easily resolvable by this summary, then I'd sometimes sketch my findings, but they were always subject to my review. If the cases were complex, I would review a typed transcript of the testimony that I "recalled" after the hearing. In the late 1980s and early 1990s when I served at the Commission, it was not routine to request a transcript of the hearing, although all hearings were on the record. So, requesting a transcript was unusual, hence the taking of thorough and copious notes was essential as a Deputy Commissioner. 

3. Respect

Since I began practicing law in 1980, I have consistently felt that respecting your opponents, their counsel, and the presiding judicial officer, as well as the process itself, was essential to obtain justice. My experience at the VWCC confirmed my belief in the basic need for respect for the process, the rule of law, and the judicial system. As a Deputy Commissioner, regardless of how a lawyer acted, I never engaged in emotional exchanges with lawyers, parties, or witnesses, or in any other behavior which might express my dissatisfaction in the conduct of a lawyer or witness. I maintained a calm and professional demeanor, regardless of what my ruling might be for any particular motion or for any litigant while in court. In a trial context, there is a certain solemnity and a natural tendency for restraint and respect. However, in my experience, as a judge, one realizes that both sides are looking at the person who is supposed to be making independent judgments based on the facts and evidence without emotion in the case. That respect for not only the litigants, their representatives, and the process, is something that has reinforced my prior belief and has helped me maintain a high level of dedication to the rule of law and the respect that I have for other lawyers. With few exceptions, I found the respect to be reciprocal. 

4. Professionalism

Professionalism is the foundation of any career. My prior experience as a military officer before going to law school prepared me for the type of conduct which I felt was appropriate in my legal career; this was further buttressed by my experience as a judicial officer. The professionalism of a judge has to permeate the court and the location where the hearing is held. The judge must establish that atmosphere of professionalism that inspires not only fellow deputy judges to act professionally themselves, but the attorneys, parties, and the witnesses.  This is based on the solemnity of the occasion when parties are in court, and the way in which the litigants are expected to act when they are present. In the now 38 years I have been practicing, I have noticed in recent years a lack of professionalism on the part of some of the younger members of the bar. Perhaps my view of this is the result of my own experience in the military. Regardless of the reason, my experience led me to conclude that professionalism is essential to exhibit not only to the judge when you're in court, but the lawyers, witnesses, and other litigants when you're out of court as well. It has often been said that a person’s ethics can be judged by how one conducts himself when no one is looking. I've always remembered that adage, and I've always tried to act that way whether I was in court or simply on a telephone call with an opposing counsel. Professionalism will permit a more objective consideration of all the evidence adduced at the hearing over which I presided. 

It is essential that all participants show themselves to be professional at all times in the litigation process. 

5. Curiosity and Creativity

Creativity is closely aligned with curiosity. In my profession, one has to be curious about the law and take a creative approach to obtain justice. Curiosity and creativity are essential to properly consider how the facts lend themselves to interpretation by certain precedent, and how they fit into a legal context.  One of the things that I was always fascinated by as a Deputy Commissioner was the fact that every case that you thought had a certain fact pattern which would fit in a certain case precedent, did not always fit in that precedent.  In fact, there are always unique aspects of every case -- either by medical report, or by a factual anomaly that would make the case not fit into one category, but perhaps fit in another category.  In order to determine which category a case would fall into, it would take research skills, and it would take thinking of or defining the issues such that you could look up other precedents, which might change the way you viewed a certain case or a certain fact pattern.  Because of curiosity and the creativity that comes with it, frequently when I was faced with a certain fact pattern that appeared to fall into a certain category of cases, but by the time I considered all the facts, medical records, and the law, I came up with a different decision than I started out with.  This frequently happens in appellate cases as well. I participated by designation in a few appeals at the WCC when a Commissioner was unavailable, and I have been in various continuing legal education seminars in which the appellate judges frequently will talk about how a case comes in and appears to fall into a certain category, but after due consideration, the disposition of the case changes. I also have found that in the many appeals I’ve filed anticipation of adverse ruling have helped preserve unlikely issues at final that we effective in everything adverse rulings below on appeal. 

Curiosity and creativity apply in active practice. I have engaged in cases which other lawyers have refused to take on. In one case, I received more than $1M in settlement brought about by an inexplicable exploding multi-part wheel of a commercial vehicle. My curiosity led me to research multi-part wheels developed for commercial vehicles. The average driver is only familiar with the one-piece wheels on their vehicle. As it turned out in that case, not only did I find out that there were multi-part wheels still in the market from the early 20th century, but I was able to find a lawyer who won a settlement when an identical wheel exploded in a similar accident in Tennessee.  He gave me the name of the experts I needed in order to develop a large liability case while representing my brain-injured client in the claim related to the defective multi-part wheel which exploded under high pressure.  In that case, curiosity was a very valuable asset, to the client and his family, but also to my legal expertise and my firm. I opened a new specialty area in my current firm and I continue to win cases such as these based on the skills that I have developed from years of applying curiosity and creativity to problems or obstacles that come up in cases.  

The Long Road to Justice
Heavy Machinery

In late April of 2014, a man was riding on a large construction vehicle on the farm owned by his employer.  He was working on a Saturday, which was not his normal workday. This weekend workday became an issue after he suffered a catastrophic accident, which left him a quadriplegic. Not only were the facts which led to the injury contested by the employer, the nature of the work the client was doing also became an issue.  If he was working for the employer when his injury occurred, then he would be covered by workers’ compensation insurance, but if he was working for his own benefit, then this would be a basis for denying benefits. If he was in fact working for their mutual benefit, then it would be a compensable accident. At the hearing level, the Deputy Commissioner found that he was working for his own benefit, and also that he failed to prove how his injury occurred, since his back was turned to the large boom that he claimed was lowered onto his head.

In addition to the assistance of an expert mechanical engineer at the evidentiary hearing, Mr. Powell successfully developed the facts at the hearing that showed that the client was moving his personal items so that his employer could sell the land on which a trailer he rented to the client was located.   The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission reversed the Deputy Commissioner when it found that the circumstances were such that the client was working for the mutual benefit of himself and his employer.   The Court of Appeals of Virginia affirmed the Full Commission’s decision.  Further, the Commission and Court of Appeals found that the employer's testimony that the boom on the heavy construction machine did not lower therefore crushing the client’s neck, was not credible. The mechanical engineer who had testified on behalf of the client stated unequivocally that the accident had to have been caused by the boom being lowered on the client’s head as he was getting up to get off the machine. In this case, the retention of an expert engineer was crucial in finding the employer’s testimony not credible.

The client was awarded back compensation for the almost 4 years of his incapacity and medical benefits for life.  These benefits together have been estimated by experts to be valued between $8 million and $18 million dollars. After almost four years of litigation, the options at this point for an individual such as the client are the following: 

  1. To try to remain in the US in order to attempt to seek treatment by obtaining a hardship VISA.

  2. To remain where he was hospitalized or to be moved to long-term care, without the benefit of rehabilitation.

  3. To be rehabilitated, preferably in his home country, in a specialized hospital where he could receive the same level of care as he would receive in the US. Also, he would be in a location where he would have access to his family who could assist in his rehabilitation and repatriation.

Mr. Powell chose option three (3).  He had been serving as the client’s attorney, guardian and conservator for the client since shortly after he was retained, and felt this would be the best option and would enable the client to be able to improve his condition the most for his well-being.  Over the past 19 years, Mr. Powell and  Powell Law Group have handled several of these multifaceted cases involving foreign workers who have suffered catastrophic injuries while working in the United States. Regardless of immigration status, often it is wise to consider assisting these severely injured workers to return to their home countries to live out their days close to their families.

Fortunately, given the experience from past cases, Mr. Powell and his firm have developed relationships with a group of Life Care Planning experts, as well as governmental and medical contacts, particularly with foreign consuls and embassies, and healthcare providers in other countries, particularly from Mexico, Central and South America.

Once the client decided to return to his native country, the firm arranged for his transportation through these contacts with transportation companies, which provide door to door as well as air service, he will become one of a half dozen other clients who have benefitted from the expertise and contacts of Mr. Powell and Powell Law Group.   He is expected to be transported with his new electric wheelchair, to a special accredited rehabilitation hospital in Mexico in the coming weeks, where he will be treated by healthcare providers in Mexico. 

Further, as he has done in other cases previously, Mr. Powell will travel to Mexico to ensure that the client has been placed in a facility properly managed to fit his needs, as he will be cared for there for a period and will ultimately live in a specially designed house close to medical care to live the remainder of his life with access to his family.

The challenges of repatriation are significant and require specialized experience. Working together, Mr. Powell and the Powell Law Group workers’ compensation team accomplish what others might view as too challenging to undertake.  With the expertise described above at his fingertips, Mr. Powell has also succeeded in fashioning a unique full and final settlement in this case which should fulfill the client’s special needs for the rest of his life. The work on behalf of the client will not end when the settlement papers are signed, since there is continuing concern for hiring the appropriate caregivers in Mexico to provide continuing care for the remainder of his life.  This will again be set up with the assistance of Mr. Powell and his law firm and also with the help of retained experts in Mexico. Certainly, this is not an easy process to follow, however experience and success in doing this mean everything to a catastrophically injured worker and his family.