MARY G. COMMANDER was born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1956. She graduated with honors from Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 1974. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia where she served as an elected member of the University Senate. In 1981, she graduated with honors from University of Richmond School of Law in Richmond, Virginia. During law school, she was a member of the Law Review Staff (chosen based on grades and a writing competition); Moot Court Board (chosen based on brief writing and oral argument competition) and McNeill Law Society (honorary academic society). Her article was selected for publication in the University of Richmond Law Review in the Summer, 1981 edition.

Following graduation, Ms. Commander served a one year judicial clerkship (1981-82) with The Honorable John A. MacKenzie, Chief Judge, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk, Virginia. Since 1982, she has been engaged in the practice of law in Norfolk, Virginia and surrounding areas.

For 18 years, Ms Commander served as an Administrative Hearing Officer for the State of Virginia in addition to her regular practice. She conducted hearings and decided cases involving employee grievances and terminations.

For 7 years, Ms. Commander served as a substitute judge sitting in Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts and General District Courts throughout the Hampton Roads area on a regular basis.

Ms. Commander is qualified and admitted to practice before The United States Supreme Court; United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia; United States Tax Court; United States Court of Federal Claims and all Virginia courts.

Ms. Commander is certified by the Supreme Court of Virginia as a guardian ad litem for children and as a guardian ad litem for incapacitated persons.

She also is certified by the Supreme Court of Virginia as a mediator in family cases in all Virginia courts and as a mediator mentor.

Ms. Commander is a member of the American Bar Association (Family Law Section); Virginia State Bar (Family Law Section); Virginia Trial Lawyers Association; Family Law Association of Hampton Roads, Virginia Women Attorneys Association; Norfolk – Portsmouth Bar Association.

Ms. Commander was the chair of the Virginia State Bar Board of Governors of the Family Law Section, current member of the Virginia State Bar Board of Governors of the Senior Lawyers Section, Board of Trustees of the National Center for Family Law, University of Richmond School of Law. She also was an elected member of the Virginia State Bar Council, the entity that governs lawyers in Virginia. She is a past member of the Boards of the Community Mediation Center, the Mt. Trashmore YMCA in Virginia Beach, and the Old Dominion University Athletic Foundation.

Ms. Commander sat as a Substitute Judge, appointed by the Norfolk Circuit Court, for seven (7) years.

Ms. Commander has an “AV” rating (highest) from Martindale-Hubbell and a “10” rating (highest) from AVVO.

She is a member of the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating and is a Cooperating Attorney with the Lambda Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Ms. Commander also is a certified Norfolk Master Gardener Volunteer and actively involved in the rescue of former racing greyhounds (with one of her own at home).

She also had articles selected for publication in the University of Richmond Law review and in the Virginia Family Law Quarterly. She has lectured extensively on Family Law topics throughout Virginia since 1985.

ABIGAIL SOUTHERN-KLINE is the sassy and brilliant Paralegal who has been keeping everyone in line at Commander Law since 2011. With over a decade of Paralegal experience, Abby has developed a sharp eye for detail and knows how to run an efficient and organized law firm. She assists the attorneys at Commander Law with all aspects of case preparation while developing a personal relationship with our clients.

Honoring her late father’s profound legal legacy, Abby has lived a life of civic mindfulness and service. She is an English Literature major and Women’s Studies minor at Old Dominion University (Class of 2018), which means she writes the majority of correspondence that leaves the office.

She served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate in the Norfolk Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, advocating for children in foster care through the Department of Human Services. Adoption is one of her passions and she plans to become a foster parent in the future.

Abby is an active member of the Norfolk community who is always ready to advocate for justice and equality. She loves all things vintage and enjoys filling her bookshelves with old books. She is a devoted fan of the classics, especially Edgar Allan Poe.

COREY MCCULLAR, Administrative Assistant, is your first point of contact with Commander Law. He assists our clients in scheduling their appointments, offering support, and building strong relationship.

He has a Bachelor of Fine Art from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (class of 2017), and like many artists, has most recently been serving up cocktails at the locals’ favorite, MJ’s Tavern. He is a painter, TV binger, pop culture enthusiast, and lover of Mexican food & tequila (white sauce is blasphemy). His languages include English, sarcasm, and restaurant Spanish.


EMILY BACKUS, Administrative Assistant Emeritus


HOLLY BERRY, Assistant Paralegal, became a member of the firm in December of 2015. She previously was with Norfolk Animal Control. Ms. Berry’s areas of specialization include: document preparation & destruction, client entertainment, and after-hours security detail. She is on duty 24 hours a day (with about 22 hours asleep) to serve your legal needs.