Vermont Bar Journal
Fall 2007 - #7.
An Interview with VBA President Stacy Chapman
THE VERMONT BAR JOURNAL FALL 2007
An Interview with VBA President Stacy Chapmanby Robert M. Paolini, Esq.
On October 5, 2007, at the VBA's Annual Meeting in Burlington, outgoing president Sam Hoar passed the gavel to incoming president S. Stacy Chapman III. Earlier this year, VBA Executive Director, Bob Paolini, sat down with Mr. Chapman to learn more about his background and his goals for the coming year. Bob Paolini: Stacy, why don't you tell us a little about you and your practice in Rutland?
Stacy Chapman: Sure. I grew up just outside of Boston and attended college at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. After graduating in 1976, I went to Vermont Law School, graduating from there in 1979, and I stayed in Vermont. My first job was as a judicial law clerk in Burlington at the Chittenden Superior Court, and at that time there were, I believe, eight superior court judges for the entire state, and they shared three law clerks. So it was a great opportunity because I had the chance to work with six out of the eight judges and I traveled from St. Albans to Rutland. I worked a lot with Judge Valenti, Judge Martin, Judge Morrissey, Judge Tom Hayes, and saw everything from divorce and minor small-claims and civil cases all the way up to murder trials. Oh, and Judge Underwood. In fact, the murder trial was with Judge Underwood right around Christmas in 1979.
BP: In those days the superior court had jurisdiction over life-sentence cases.
BP: Was that a one year appoint-ment?
SC: Yes. The way it worked back then was it was just for one year, and you had to pass the bar exam in order to keep your job, so you were hired contingent upon passing the bar exam. So for the first couple of months I was a little nervous about whether I was going to keep my job. At the time my first daughter was not around yet; in fact, she was born in November of that year. Obviously, everything worked out. After I clerked, Judge Valenti, Judge Hayes, and Judge Martin were pretty instrumental in helping me stay in Vermont and come to Rutland with the firm of Webber and Costello. In fact, Judge Valenti even found an apartment for us, and when we moved from Burlington he supervised the move because we lived right across the street from him. And he pointed out where the couch should go.
BP: So you came down to Rutland around 1980?
SC: Right. And started in August of 1980.
BP: And you're still with John Webber, working in a firm that bears his name.
SC: Right. When I first started Chris Webber, Sr., John's father, was the senior partner, along with Bart Costello. Then there was Chris Webber, Jr., John Webber, and Tommy Costello. So I was the token non-family member.
BP: What kind of work do you do? What's your practice been like over those twenty-seven years?
SC: It has developed over the years. It started out, I would say, probably 75 percent insurance defense and trial work. We were also, in a sense, general counsel to Marble Savings Bank and then Marble Bank. So I did a lot of litigation and bank collections, general banking law. We still have a general civil practice, still do a fair amount of litigation, a lot of real estate, a fair amount of banking work. My partner, Gary Kupferer, does a lot of business work. But we try to stay diversified, because we're worried that if the legislature ever passed a no-fault statute, and we were strictly insurance defense, we'd be out of business.
BP: You mentioned your partners. There are four members of your firm now?
SC: Well, right now it's John Webber, Gary Kupferer, and myself as partners. We have an associate, Tim Budd. Then we have two paralegals, a secretary, a bookkeeper, and a part-time administrative person.
BP: Let's talk about your volunteer service in the Bar Association. I know you've had a prior stint on the Board of Managers. I don't know if you remember those dates, but it's a while ago.
SC: It was in the early Eighties. I became active in the Young Lawyers Section, and held a couple of offices there, ultimately becoming president of the Young Lawyers. And as a member of the Young Lawyers, there was a seat on what we used to call the Big Board, so I served on the Board of Managers for I believe four years back then. And then I ran for office with the Board of Managers. There were three of us running and I was not selected. So I was off for, oh, probably about seven or eight years and then had the opportunity to get elected to come back. And here we are.
BP: So let's talk about volunteer service to a profession in an organization such as the Vermont Bar Association. I mean, you obviously got something out of your years on the Board as a Young Lawyers representative that...