David Harless is a partner in the firm's Litigation department and serves as head of the firm's Employment practice group. He represents a wide variety of corporations, closely-held companies, and individuals in complex business and commercial disputes, such as contract, business tort, restrictive covenant, trade secret, and employment litigation, and products liability, premises liability, and tort defense litigation. He spends significant time advising clients regarding employment matters, and defending against discrimination, wrongful discharge, and hiring claims. He also serves as general legal counsel to the Capital Region Airport Commission, which owns and operates the Richmond International Airport.
Mr. Harless is a member of the firm's Executive Committee, a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a former president of the Virginia State Bar and the Bar Association of the City of Richmond. He has been a faculty member of the Virginia State Bar's mandatory professionalism course, the panel that trains such faculty, as well as the National Trial Advocacy College of the University of Virginia. In addition, Mr. Harless has lectured on numerous business and employment litigation and trial practice topics.
Trials / Appeals / Alternative Dispute Resolution
Complex Business and Commercial Disputes
Employment Issues and Executive Agreements
Non-Competition and Trade Secrets
Products Liability and Torts
Municipal Governance and Public Sector
• U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
• U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia
• U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
• U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
• Hon. Glen M. Williams, U.S. District Court Judge, Western District of Virginia, 1981-1982
Representative Business Litigation
• Defense of companies against business conspiracy, trade secret and interference with contract claims.
• Represent parties in disputes over indemnification and allocation of liability for commercial and products liability claims.
• Defense of claims involving fiduciary duties of officers, directors, and members of corporations, closely-held companies and partnerships.
Representative Employment Matters
• Defense and assertion of violations of restrictive covenants, such as non-compete, non-solicit, confidentiality, trade secret and no-hire clauses.
• Representation of employers against alleged violations of overtime compensation and wage claims.
• Response to and defense of numerous harassment, hostile work environment, sex, race, age, disability, FMLA, workplace defamation and wrongful discharge claims and charges.
• Representation of executives and companies in negotiating and preparing compensation and benefit packages, exit strategies, and severance and release arrangements.
Representative Products Liability/Tort Matters
• Defense of product liability claims against manufacturers and distributors of various products, such as forklifts and forklift products, construction equipment, brake systems, propane cylinders, all-terrain vehicles, playground equipment, breast implants, motorcycle helmets, commercial floor finishing products, pesticides and herbicides, and mechanical platform lifts.
• Representation of resort complex in premises liability matters involving winter sports and water sports, and commercial tort claims involving easements and cable television rights.
University of Virginia School of Law, J.D., 1981
University of Kentucky, B.B.A., 1978
American College of Trial Lawyers
Virginia State Bar
• President, 2012-2013
• Chair, Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee
The Bar Association of the City of Richmond
• President, 1999-2000
Virginia Bar Association
• Member, Committee on Special Issues of National and State Importance
• Member, Labor & Employment Law Section
• Attorney Member
Lewis F. Powell Jr., American Inn of Court
• Master of the Bench
U.S. Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference
• Attorney Member
American Bar Foundation
Virginia Law Foundation
Virginia Supreme Court
• Member, Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee
• Member, Committee on Lawyer Well-Being
Boy Scouts of America, Heart of Virginia Council
• Executive Board, 2002-2011
• Adult Advisor, Troop 772 Philmont Expeditions, 2001, 2003
Commonwealth Public Safety Medal of Valor Review Board
• Member and Chair, 2003-2010
Virginia Public Safety Foundation, Director Emeritus
• Director, 1992-2006
• President, 1997-1998
• Distinguished Service Award Recipient, 2001
The Best Lawyers in America©
• Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Employment Law-Management, Litigation-Labor & Employment, Personal Injury Litigation-Defendants, 1995-2023
• Litigation: General Commercial, 2004-2022
Virginia Super Lawyers
• Business Litigation, 2006-2022
Legal Elite (Virginia Business)
• Civil Litigation, 2010, 2019-2020, 2022
• Labor/Employment, 2000-2009, 2011-2019, 2021
William J. Brennan Jr. Award, National Trial Advocacy College at the University of Virginia School of Law, 2020
Walker Award of Merit, Virginia Bar Association, 2017
• Co-author with Michael W. Smith and Henry I. Willett III, Business Torts Desk Reference, Virginia chapter, (Morton F. Daller ed., Aspen Law & Business 2009-2013)
• Co-author with Craig T. Merritt and David B. Lacy, Survey of Virginia Employment Libel Law (Media Law Resource Center 1999-2003
• Faculty, National Trial Advocacy College, University of Virginia Law School
• Faculty, Virginia State Bar Mandatory Course on Professionalism, 2000-2003