Tuesday, May 28th, 2024

James E. Short, PLC Story


Attorney James Short's Lessons Learned on the Trout Stream

by Wendell Ward

James E. Short, PLC

James E. Short, PLC

Once upon a time, we looked to the "well-rounded individual" for leadership. They possessed qualities we admired. They were honest, courteous, and dignified. They were dedicated to the idea that hard work would get you somewhere in life-and they had proven it. We valued their friendship. We applauded them because they were confident enough to pursue their interests and because their versatility made them sought after for guidance and advice. They had a genuine interest in people. They felt responsible and wanted to serve their communities.

Jim Short is one such embodiment of the well-rounded individual, a man who embraces life's pursuits with open arms. As an attorney, he tirelessly advocates for justice and fairness. Like a street fighter, he champions the cause of the underdog and the average Joe.

And yet, Jim is equally devoted to the grand mystery of the natural world, finding solace and joy in the sport of fly fishing. Meeting Jim for the first time, one feels like they've known him forever...especially when the conversation turns to this passion of his. Many lessons learned on the trout stream can also be applied to his passion for the law.

"Just like the law, fly fishing requires careful thought and attention to detail," Jim observes. "I see it as a thinking man's sport because it requires careful planning and execution. Fly fishing involves using an artificial fly to mimic the fish's natural prey, which requires an understanding of entomology and the aquatic ecosystem. You have to read the water and understand the movement of currents to find the best spot to cast your fly."

Jim is a seasoned attorney who has made significant contributions to the legal profession. A graduate of the University of Richmond, he received his law degree from the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William and Mary in 1986. Shortly after, he was admitted to the Virginia State Bar and began his career as a prosecutor for the City of Portsmouth before starting his own firm, James E. Short, PLC., in 1991.

With over 30 years of experience in private practice, Jim specializes in criminal law, DUI defense, and family law. He has represented clients in courtrooms across the state, including the U.S. District Court and Eastern District of Virginia, and has also been admitted to practice before the Bar of the United States Supreme Court. In fact, his admittance to the Supreme Court is one of his most coveted professional accomplishments, having been sworn in to practice before the Court by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. himself.

"As a prosecutor in the role of Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney for the City of Portsmouth, and as a former President of the Chesapeake City Bar Association, I forged relationships with attorneys in many different practice areas," Jim says. "I also served on the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Committee, which is responsible for ensuring that lawyers behave ethically."

"I firmly believe that an error in judgment, an honest mistake,
or an unexpected obstacle shouldn't ruin
everything a person has worked for their entire life."
-Jim Short

But even with his professional achievements, Jim has always remained dedicated to fighting for the rights of the vulnerable. He understands that justice is not always served equally and that it is his duty to fight for those who may not have the resources to fight for themselves.

"Maybe you got behind the wheel after having a little too much to drink," Jim says. "Maybe you lost your temper and spent the night in jail after being charged with assault. Maybe you've decided to end your marriage, but you want to move forward in a way that's best for your children without putting your financial security at risk. Sometimes life doesn't turn out as you planned, but I am here to navigate the obstacles with you to achieve the best possible outcome."

Jim is sensitive to the fact that being charged with a DUI, assault, or any other crime can leave one feeling overwhelmed, anxious, scared, and as if life is spiraling out of control. Clients may worry that the consequences of the charges could be severe and long-lasting. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed, especially if the charges are the result of their own actions or choices. The impact of such charges on one's reputation, job, relationships, and future opportunities can be daunting, leaving one feeling isolated and alone.

"If you find yourself in this situation, it's crucial to seek legal help right away to help you overcome this setback and find a path forward," Jim explains. "When I work with a client, I put myself in their shoes and try to see things from their perspective. I firmly believe that an error in judgment, an honest mistake, or an unexpected obstacle shouldn't ruin everything a person has worked for their entire life."

During Jim's free time, a day on the river is time well spent. The water is alive with the glimmer of the sun and the sound of the rapids. The scent of fresh water, silt, and wildflowers ground one to the earth. A forest hugs the banks of the river, where the trees teem with life. A family of deer may come to the river to drink. And there are the fish themselves, darting and weaving beneath the surface of the water. Rainbow trout is his favorite, but each species has its unique characteristics, and catching one is an unforgettable experience.

"Just like the law, fly fishing requires careful thought
and attention to detail…
You have to read the water
and understand the movement of currents
to find the best spot to cast your fly."
-Jim Short

"As a fly fisherman, there's just something about trout that captures my imagination," Jim says. "Their speckled skin and rainbow colors make them one of the most beautiful fish in the world. But it's not just the way they look that makes them so special; it's the way they move in the water, their strength and power, and the fight they put up when you hook them."

It has been said that fly fishing isn't just a sport; it's a lifestyle. As Jim insists, it's about taking the time to appreciate the beauty of the natural world, tune out the noise of the everyday, and connect with something bigger than ourselves. The quiet concentration required to make the perfect cast centers one in a way that's hard to find in any other activity.

"It's thrilling, that moment when you feel the tug on the line and know that you've hooked a fish," Jim says. "But it's not just about catching fish-it's about the joy of being in nature. You stand in the middle of a river with the sun on your face, and you feel grateful for the chance to be a part of this beautiful ecosystem and engage with the natural world in a meaningful way."

Jim's dedication to meaningful engagement is evident in his involvement in numerous community organizations. He has served as the Chairman of the Chesapeake Law Library Board, the Chairman of the Chesapeake Regional Local Human Rights Committee, and is a former board member of Girls Incorporated. Jim is currently the Treasurer of the Portsmouth Sports Club Foundation, which provides scholarships to deserving local high school student-athletes.

"I feel like community involvement isn't just a way to give back, but also a way to enrich one's own life," Jim says. "Through service and volunteerism, people can develop new skills, meet new friends, and gain a greater appreciation for the diverse needs and perspectives of others."
In short, Jim is a people person. But it isn't just his friends and legal associates who appreciate him. His clients, too, rave about his unparalleled dedication to their cases.

One client said of Jim:  "When it comes to professionalism and ethics, he's simply top-notch. I've never encountered an attorney who worked harder for his clients than Jim. He was consistently available to answer my calls and keep me updated, and he always prioritized my best interests. I had complete trust in his decisions and recommendations regarding my case."

His clients confirm that Jim is an exceptional attorney who will thoroughly examine the facts and circumstances of a case and develop a comprehensive legal strategy. Many clients appreciate his ability to keep them focused on what's important and guide them to make their own smart decisions. They trust him.

Another client said: "When my son was charged with reckless driving, it was his first time getting in trouble, and I didn't know what to do. Luckily, I found Mr. Short. He was honest and made the process easy. He took the time to get to know my son and our family and stayed in contact with us throughout. It was clear that being a lawyer wasn't just a job for him, but that he really cared."
As for the cost of his services, Jim believes in transparency and honesty. He wants his clients to know that there are no hidden fees and that he's always candid about the financial requirements of his services. While fees are certainly a consideration in such matters, Jim insists that cost should never be a client's primary concern when choosing an attorney.

"After all," Jim points out, "when your life's on the line, you wouldn't choose a surgeon based on cost alone. You'd want the best doctor available. The same is true for lawyers, especially in the case of criminal charges, which can permanently alter your future. I understand the gravity of the situations my clients are facing, and I'm committed to helping them."

"As a fly fisherman, I am constantly reminded of the importance of conservation and the need to protect our natural resources," Jim says. "The very act of fly fishing is grounded in an understanding and respect for the environment."

As Jim notes, fly fishing is often regarded as a conservationist sport due to its contribution to preserving the natural world. For instance, many fly fishermen, like Jim, adhere to the catch-and-release practice, which entails returning caught fish unharmed to their habitat, thereby promoting healthy ecosystems and preserving fish populations.

"Fly fishing requires a deep understanding of river environments and the delicate balance of the species that inhabit them," Jim says. "Anglers have to know about the life cycles of aquatic insects and other organisms that are essential to the food chain, and we must be aware of the impact that human activity can have on these ecosystems."

Jim's dedication to his clients is matched only by his passion for his family and fly fishing. He looks forward to traveling to Yellowstone National Park with his wife, daughter, and son this summer, where he will show them all the well-rounded sport of fly fishing.

"The most important skills in fly fishing are patience and strategic thinking-knowing when to be quiet and when and how to act," Jim says. "Similarly, in the legal profession, patience and strategic thinking are often crucial for achieving a favorable resolution. And whether you're facing criminal charges or need help with a family law concern, I can help you work towards the best possible outcome for your case."

James E. Short, PLC

652 Independence Parkway
Chesapeake, VA 23320