Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Distinguished Alumni: Chris Fortier

Distinguished Alumni 
of the 
Appalachian School of Law: Chris Fortier

As the press release describes:  In less than a decade, ASL alumnus Chris Fortier earned one of the highest honors bestowed on a young lawyer by the Virginia State Bar. The Bar's Young Lawyers Conference awarded Chris its 2013 R. Edwin Burnette Jr. Young Lawyer of the Year Award.

The award recognizes young lawyers who demonstrate dedicated service to the conference, the legal profession, and the community. It is named in honor of Lynchburg Judge R. Edwin Burnette Jr., past president of the VSB (1993-1994) and the YLC (1985-1986), with whom Fortier is pictured.

Fortier served as chair of the Young Lawyers Conference (YLC) annual Professional Development Conference for two years and then expanded that program from Richmond to a second location in Northern Virginia. The Professional Development Conference provides courses in basic substantive legal skill training to Virginia lawyers.

YLC president Brian R. Charville noted: “In his work on the PDC he has demonstrated creativity, implementing skills, and a real selflessness in service of the program and its participants.”

Fortier also founded the Professional Development Series (PDS), which he envisioned in late 2012 as a vehicle for broadcasting YLC programs and other bar organizations' content throughout the bar year, one program each week. He recorded the Professional Development Conference segments and content from other bar organizations including the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyer’s Division and developed a schedule to air the programs. “While the PDS is still quite new and its effects aren't yet known, there is no doubt that Chris's vision and hard work have led to the creation of a useful practice resource for the YLC's members,” Charville wrote. “Chris simply has enviable abilities to brainstorm and implement programs that serve our profession well.”

He also helped the VSB staff develop a website and its contents.

Educational Background and Activities at ASL

Fortier is a graduate of James Madison University (2002) and the Appalachian School of Law (2005).

He grew up in Poquoson, VA, and he and his wife Brittany, also an ASL graduate, live and practice law in Vienna.

While on the ASL campus, he worked with the Student Bar Association, serving as the Student Bar Treasurer in 2003-2004, where he led a team of senators and students who drafted the rules for financing student organizations. 

In 2004-2005, Fortier served as the American Bar Association (ABA) Law Student Division representative and the Executive Lieutenant Governor for the 4th Circuit in the ABA Law Student Division. He also served as the law student liaison to the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division that year. 

During his year of leadership, ASL won the Bronze Key for highest membership in the Circuit. Chris won a Silver Key and the Liaison of the Year Award from the ABA.

While at ASL, he also served as Treasurer of SPIA in 2004-2005.

Employment History

After graduating from law school, after a short stint as a contract attorney, Fortier joined the Social Security Administration as an Attorney-Adviser in the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. 

In that role, he researches case files; the Code of Federal Regulations; Social Security Rulings; rules from the Social Security Administration’s Hearings, Appeals, and Litigation Law Manual; claimant and expert testimony; and case law. He also creates written decisions, interrogatories, memoranda, and correspondence. Finally, he reviews, prepares, and summarizes evidence for the hearing.

When he first joined the Social Security Administration, he drafted decisions for up to seven administrative law judges. He also handled child disability claims, remands from the Appeals Council, and cases involving mental and physical impairments.

In 2011, his workplace recognized his contribution with the Associate Commissioner’s Citation for excellent work (team award).

While in law school, Fortier interned for the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance; the Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS); and for United States Congressman Michael Michaud (ME).  Thus, Fortier has consistently shown a passion for community and public service.

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