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‘Getting the law right’ for commercial real estate and business clients

When Adam Nelson started here fresh out of law school in 1995, his office was next to John Thompson, the namesake founder of ThompsonMcMullan.

“I sat down on one of those first days and he told me one thing: ‘Get the law right. We’re too small to get it wrong,’” Adam recalls. “The idea was that we were perfectly capable of going up against larger firms, but only if we got the law right.”

Getting the law right, for Adam, means attention to detail and caring – professionally and, yes, personally, too – for every client matter.

In Adam’s real estate and business transactions practice, he listens carefully to each client to understand the business and the need, rather than merely “jumping into drafting” or “pulling a form off a shelf” to resolve a legal issue. He recognizes that every legal agreement is an aspect of managing a client’s business relationship, from a one-time transaction like selling a business or a property, to a long-term transaction such as leasing a building.

To succeed, Adam pulls from not only more than two decades of legal experience, but also five years’ experience as a corporate financial analyst and his background in psychology. “I often tell people that the most important degree I earned is my psychology degree,” he says. “So much of my work is about understanding people.”

As Adam tells his law school students in advanced transactions classes: the deal drives the drafting, so the lawyer must understand the deal before drafting a document. Your job, he tells his students, is to fix problems for your client and get your client’s deal done, while protecting your client as best you can. “Or, if you cannot protect your client,” he says, “you need to let your client know this truth, so your client can decide whether to walk away from the deal.”

When asked why he had stayed with Adam for more than two decades, a long-standing client of the firm said that Adam is “a businessman with a law degree, who has made me money, and who really cares about me.”

Adam joined the firm after graduating from University of Virginia School of Law; prior to that, he earned his psychology degree and a Master’s in Business Administration (Finance) from the Pennsylvania State University, graduating first in his MBA class. After graduating, he served as a corporate financial analyst for Ford New Holland, Inc., the agricultural subsidiary of Ford Motor Company.


Business Transactions, Corporate and Real Estate

Representative Experience

  • Drafting agreements to resolve real estate and business issues – boundary line disputes, easement issues, forbearance by lenders, and other issues
  • Commercial leasing (including resolution of commercial landlord and tenant disputes and representation of landlords in tenant bankruptcies)
  • Sales and purchases of commercial real estate
  • Sales and purchases of businesses and business assets


  • AV Peer Review Rated in Martindale-Hubbell
  • Selected by peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the field of Real Estate Law (2024)
  • Virginia Lawyers Weekly “Go To Lawyers” for Commercial Real Estate Law (2023)
  • Virginia Business Magazine’s “Legal Elite,” Real Estate/Land Use category (2012-2023)
  • Selected to the Super Lawyers Virginia List, Business/Corporate Law category (2014-2016)


  • University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 1995
  • Pennsylvania State University, MBA, Finance, 1987
    • Graduated first in the class
  • Pennsylvania State University, B.A., Psychology (Business Minor), 1985


  • All Virginia courts, including the Supreme Court of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Courts for the Eastern District of Virginia


  • Virginia Bar Association
    • Community Service Program (2004-present – Charter Member)
  • Richmond Bar Association
  • Hanover County Bar Association
    • President (2013-2014)
    • President-Elect (2012-2013)
    • Secretary (2011-2012)
    • Treasurer (2010-2011)
    • So You’re 18 Program, Organizer (1999-2000, 2003-2018), Presenter (1999-2000, 2003-present)
    • Nina Kilian Peace Award of the Hanover Bar Association for Community Service (2010)
  • Adjunct Professor
    • University of Richmond School of Law, Contract Drafting (Spring 2022, 2023)
    • William & Mary Law School, Advanced Writing – Transactional (Spring 2017, 2018; Fall 2017)
  • Jewish Community Federation of Richmond
    • Enterprise Circle Steering Committee (2008-present)
    • Senior Leadership Institute (2014-2015)
  • Junior Achievement of Central Virginia
    • Ethics Instructor (2005-present)
    • Volunteer Hero of the Year award (2015)
    • Classroom Instructor (2002-2011)
    • Volunteer of the Year Finalist (2004)
  • ChamberRVA – Executive Committee, Board and Business Council (2008-2009)
    • Hanover Business Council
      • Chair (2008-2009)
      • Vice Chair (2007-2008)
      • Cabinet (2004-2013, 2020-2021)
      • Government Affairs (2014-2021)
  • Penn State Alumni Association, Richmond Chapter (1997-present)
    • Board of Directors (1999-2006)
    • Treasurer (1999-2004)

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