Still in his 40s, John E Byrnes has emerged as one of Virginia's leading young matrimonial lawyers. Named in 2002 a partner of the well known and widely respected McLean firm, Byrnes recently launched an independent practice in Fairfax. Focused, earnest, even-tempered and the veteran now of hundreds of cases, Byrnes is likely to lead the profession in the years ahead. He has already assumed important roles in the profession, serving on both the Virginia State Bar's Disciplinary Committee (which reviews complaints against attorneys) and the Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee. Some colleagues even suggest there may be, a decade or two from now, a place for Byrnes in the judiciary.
Growing up in Fairfield County, Connecticut, the son of a management consultant, Byrnes was a standout swimmer - his Wilton, CT, club team competed on the national level; he was a state champion in the 200-yard and 500 yard freestyle. It's a famously demanding sport - "in the pool, six days a week, from 5:30 to 7 every morning" - and Byrnes went on to compete for Berkeley for a year, before "I finally decided I wanted to experience college like everyone else." After graduating with a degree in English, Byrnes worked for a San Francisco general practice, until his fiancee was admitted to medical school at George Washington University. In Washington - still before law school - Byrnes was a paralegal researcher with a 200-lawyer firm.
When he matriculated at George Mason Law School, his maturity showed quickly: Within a year he was named to the prestigious Dean's Scholar Program, teaching legal writing; he later served as lead articles editor of the school's Law Review.
After a clerkship with a Fairfax County Circuit judge, Byrnes commenced his family law career, and within six years became a named partner while still in his mid 30s - light speed in the legal profession, and giving Byrnes a stature that's led to several bar appointments in a short time.
Byrnes is an influential and productive manager of his firm. Most of his practice today is in the jurisdiction of Fairfax County, although he handles cases in all Northern Virginia jurisdictions. First-time clients will find Byrnes no-nonsense, almost low-key, but his evenhanded style has a welcome, calming effect on so many emotionally charged cases. Byrnes and his wife - Dr. Laura Byrnes, a physician with Fairfax Pediatric Associates - have two teenage children, who both enjoy swimming. Byrnes enjoys travel and a round of golf when he can get away from the office.