Law firm honored with Cunningham Award

Published 11:00 am Thursday, October 13, 2022

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The Charlotte County law firm Elder, Watkins & Friedman was honored last week, as the group received an award from the Virginia Legal Aid Society (VLAS). On Thursday, Oct. 6, the group was given the Joel C. Cunningham Sr. Award for increasing access to justice in Virginia’s 10th Judicial Circuit.

“Since its founding in 2016, Elder, Watkins & Friedman has shown a steadfast commitment to providing pro bono, volunteer legal services to benefit low-income people in Southside Virginia,” said Executive Director of Virginia Legal Aid Society David Neumeyer, in a statement.. VLAS began presenting the award to honor Judge Cunningham, who has served the circuit as the first managing attorney of VLAS’s Halifax office and later as a general district and then circuit court judge. Other winners of the award have included Circuit Judge Richard Blanton of the 10th Circuit and Halifax attorneys Alan and Carol Gravitt.


Elder, Watkins & Friedman has offices in Farmville and Charlotte Court House. The firm was founded by Gary Elder and David Watkins, and was initially known as Elder & Watkins. From the outset, the firm made commitment to and investment in the community one of its foundational principles. In its brief history, the firm has devoted more than 100 hours to serving VLAS clients without charging a fee, in addition to untold hours providing pro bono services directly to people in need.

“Living in Southside Virginia inherently involves interacting with people from vastly different socio-economic backgrounds,” said Gary Elder. “Practicing law in Southside Virginia provides the same experience. Since its founding, one of our firm’s principles has been about helping those who need help, regardless of what class or economic category they might fit into.”

“Partnering with the Virginia Legal Aid Society allows us to fulfill that principle,” Elder continued. “We are committed to our partnership with Virginia Legal Aid Society, and we are proud of the work that we have done and that we continue to do for our neighbors in need.”

In 2018, the firm hired Matthew Friedman, who had served previously as Assistant Attorney General for 10 years in Virginia and South Carolina. In 2020, the firm added a fourth attorney by hiring Carter Allen. In 2021, the firm changed its name to Elder, Watkins & Friedman.