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
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.