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More than "Helping People," Helping Norfolk - One Step at a Time

By Sean Burke

The Decker Law Firm has a long history in the city of Norfolk. You can recognize attorneys from the firm on the street as they exercise during a lunch break, at city events as they show support for local causes, or on Granby Street as they enjoy monthly concerts during First Fridays. This law firm isn't just committed to serving clients, it strives to enrich the surrounding community of Norfolk.

When Peter Decker Jr. started practicing law, he had one goal in mind: helping people. That single, simple goal has guided The Decker Law Firm's growth over the years, making it one of the best-known and most respected law firms in Norfolk today.

Each of The Decker Law Firm's employees is regarded as a friend and treated with honor and respect. Most importantly, every member of the staff - attorneys and support crew alike - share Decker's priority of helping people.

However, this concept doesn't stop at the door of the firm. The employees of The Decker Law Firm take this spirit of helping people into the community, and over the years, have made some incredible strides in the local area.

For example, Peter Decker, III is a member of numerous Hampton Roads groups and organizations including the Board of Commissioners of the Norfolk Airport Authority and Peter Decker Children's Charity - which raises funds for charities including St. Jude, St. Mary's, and CHKD among others. These positions along with others in Norfolk and Virginia Beach allow members of The Decker Law Firm to keep in touch with the pulse of the community, and act as local leaders in ushering the area toward a brighter future.

Michelle Parker of the firm was elected president of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association in June. Parker has organized and participated in several Norfolk events, including: the "Pink in the Rink" night to benefit the Susan G. Komen Tidewater Chapter; the Adopt-A-Student project to help equip local children with school supplies each year; the Foster Care Holiday Project; and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and CHKD Run/Walk for Kids. She also volunteered at several Regent University School of Law events to promote female attorney membership in the area.

George Neskis is a local leader on the parish council at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Norfolk. You may know this church for organizing the annual Norfolk Greek Festival, where 30,000 guests experience fine Greek cuisine and culture while supporting the church as well as local charities. Neskis is also a member of the Law & Disorderly Club of Norfolk. This charity organization was founded by Peter G. Decker in 1984 and has donated thousands of dollars to local charities over the years.

This culture of community involvement within the firm makes its way through the ranks to the leading paralegals like Nichelle Stone. Stone is the President of her local civic league in the Northside neighborhood in Norfolk and she is the Vice- Curator of the local chapter of Global Shapers. Global Shapers is an international organization, currently represented in over 160 countries, composed of professionals aged 20-30 who seek to elevate the voice of young people in the world. The organization's Norfolk chapter has been active for only two years, but it has already made a significant impact on Hampton Roads. Members have coordinated multiple social media campaigns to raise awareness on key issues in the 757 and they recently organized a sold-out event at the Brock Environmental Center titled "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me! There's Sea Level Rise?" The Global Shapers community also seeks a place at the table on larger issues as well, such as the expansion of public transportation, economic development, and arts and culture activities throughout the city.

Martin Thomas, Jr. of The Decker Law Firm took his commitment to the city to new levels last year when he was elected to Norfolk's city council.

Since then, he's spearheaded an effort to implement a formal process for the city council to introduce legislation, and voted in favor of a ban on discrimination in city hiring or contracting practices based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Thomas has helped guide city policy directly with the help of fellow council members.

The Decker Law Firm is so entrenched in Norfolk's history that the old Decker Building façade was reconstructed piece-by-piece as part of The Main, the latest addition to the Norfolk skyline. But that isn't the only recognizable landmark the firm has contributed. Everyone knows Norfolk's iconic mermaid statues have decorated the city for well over a decade. What you may not know is that in 1999, Pete Decker Jr. introduced the idea of city-wide mermaid statues during a breakfast with 300 Norfolk leaders. The concept is attributed to his wife, Bess, who had recently returned from Chicago and suggested Norfolk adopt something like the Windy City's "Cows on Parade" art exhibit.

The decorated mermaids - each unique with their own quirky decorations and personalities - were auctioned off at the event "Mermaids on Parade" in November, 2000. Since then, many more have been added to Norfolk and they have grown to be a symbol of our city.

The Decker Law Firm has always had a hand in helping Norfolk grow into the city we love today. As its lawyers and attorneys help Norfolk citizens with legal advice, they also help the community thrive and grow because it's not just where they work, it's where they live, and as active members of their community they're here to help.


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