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Posted on: September 21, 2020

Chesterfield Assistant County Attorney Named “Up and Coming Lawyer”


County Attorney’s Office

September 21, 2020

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — This month, Virginia Lawyers Weekly announced Assistant County Attorney Emily C. Russell as a member of the 2020 class of Up and Coming Lawyers. According to the publication, the awards program is in its fifth year and “recognizes lawyers from across the commonwealth who are making their mark within their first 10 years of practice.” Russell was the only local government attorney to be recognized in the 2020 class.

As assistant county attorney, Russell is responsible for providing in-house counsel and legal representation before Virginia’s state and federal courts. As counsel for the county’s code enforcement staff and Department of Social Services, Russell regularly appears in Chesterfield’s juvenile, general district and circuit courts, totaling over 150 court appearances yearly.

“Emily is a passionate and effective attorney, dedicated to supporting her clients and improving the community for those who live in, work in and visit Chesterfield County,” said Deputy County Attorney Julie Seyfarth. “This is a well-deserved honor for Emily.”

Since joining the Chesterfield County Attorney’s Office in 2015, she has been vital to several key county initiatives, including co-leading Boots on the Ground, a multidisciplinary team of representatives from eight county departments that identifies strategies and resources to address nuisance properties, dilapidated properties and unsafe housing conditions for elderly residents.

In a recent success, Russell’s code enforcement litigation led to the sale of a large manufactured home park in the county, which will be redeveloped by a local non-profit to provide modern and code-compliant housing for residents. In addition, Russell is leading an effort to preserve the Colbrook Motel sign on Jefferson Davis Highway to commemorate the property’s history as Chesterfield’s only hotel featured in the Green Book, a resource for Black travelers in Jim Crow-era America. Her work has resulted in the county, in partnership with the Chesterfield Historical Society and community representatives, exploring options for redevelopment of the abandoned site that will honor the historic motel.

Before starting with Chesterfield, Russell worked as the policy manager for the Virginia Conservation Network, a non-profit partnership of Virginia environmental and conservation organizations. She previously served as the environmental law and policy analyst for Appalachian Mountain Advocates, a non-profit public interest law and policy organization.

A Henrico native, Russell graduated magna cum laude from Tulane University Law School, where she earned her J.D. She received her B.A. with Distinction from the University of Virginia. 

The 2020 class of Up and Coming Lawyers will be honored at a virtual ceremony on Oct. 22, 2020.

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