March 8, 2024

James Cottrell Receives the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award

Portrait of James R. Cottrell.James Ray Cottrell, founder of Cottrell Fletcher Cottrell PC in Alexandria has been awarded the Virginia State Bar Family Law Section’s highest accolade, the Betty Ann Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award, established to “recognize and honor an individual who has made a substantial contribution to the practice and administration of family law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Born in Norton, Virginia, the smallest city in the Commonwealth located in the Appalachian Mountains in the far southwest corner of the state, Cottrell graduated from the Virginia Military Institute before receiving his law degree from the University of Richmond School of Law.

In her nomination letter, Amy Spain, partner at Ain & Bank in Washington, D.C., said of Cottrell, “I am certain that few family law attorneys know the domestic relations laws, the history of those laws, the evolution of case law, and its application as well as Jim. I will also be so bold to say that no one can command the Courtroom like Jim Cottrell.”

Spain went on to commend Cottrell’s unwavering commitment to sharing his knowledge with other family lawyers, noting, “He has co-authored the Virginia Family Law: Theory and Practice treatise since 1990 which serves as a resource to law students, practitioners, and judges across the Commonwealth.”

Having worked in the same firm as Cottrell from 2015–2021, Spain remarked, “I know first-hand that Jim does not often have time for impromptu inquiries, but he always answers the call to answer a colleague’s question. To many, Jim is a fierce and intimidating litigator (which is absolutely true), but he is also a resource and willing mentor to anyone who asks because he wants all family lawyers to practice at the highest level.”

Cottrell has been a member of the VSB since 1977. He is a former chair of the Family Law Section and faculty member of the Professionalism Course, as well as serving on the Boyd-Graves Commission. A prolific author, Cottrell has taught enumerable CLEs beginning in the 1990s, while handling a practice that includes numerous cases before the Supreme Court of Virginia and the Virginia Court of Appeals.

The Betty A. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to James Cottrell at the 40th Annual Advanced Family Law Seminar on April 18 at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond.