Steven Garver of Reston is one of the most respected - and accomplished - independent trial lawyers in Virginia today. Now in his third decade of practice and in his professional prime, the 65-year-old Garver in many respects embodies the abiding virtues of our legal system - fair-minded, hard-working, and with a sense of moral purpose and low-key dignity, something some of his higher-profile peers don't always project. That personal style - and his results for his varied clients - has earned him a place among the leading trial attorneys practicing today. The oldest of three sons of a man who left college to join the Army during World War II, Garver spent his early years in New York, then Boston, and finally, as a teen, in Rockville, Maryland. "We went where my dad's opportunities took him," recalls Garver today. Early on Garver knew he might pursue the law, his sense of social justice emerging at the height of the Vietnam War. As an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, he focused on economics; but ultimately he chose law school ("The law was considered then a profession, not simply a business or job.") Garver's instincts for social justice grew further at George Mason, where he was part of its first law school class and "you were sure not to be hired by the big firms downtown." Garver's early mentors, including the late Kaletah Carroll, were like himself: scrappy, energetic, and with excellent courtroom instincts. Remarkably, Garver launched his own practice at the unheard-of age of 27, a move the quietly strong-willed Garver still regards as hardly impressive. Early on Garver took on criminal and divorce cases (he still does some criminal-defense and divorce work today); in later years, with strong knowledge of courts and judges in the Northern Virginia, he served as local counsel to major corporations (such entities, following the explosive growth of the region, have since opened their own offices). Although he has had partnerships, over his career Garver has generally led his own practice; since 1976 he has been based in Reston. His cases today reflect the needs of his clients: victims of accidents that weren't their fault, victims of medical negligence and other life-changing trauma. Garver himself has served as mentor to many young and capable attorneys, and his staff reflects his own energy and commitment. Last year he served on AAJ's executive committee. Away from the office Garver enjoys boating and photography; he and his wife Patrice have two grown daughters.