The Team

MGC 2018 Headshot 2MARY 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 is a current member 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 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 two of her own at home).

She also had articles selected for publication in the University of Richmond Law review in 1981 and 1991 and in the Virginia Family Law Quarterly in 2015. She has lectured extensively on Family Law topics throughout Virginia since 1985.


DSC_8084TATIANA MENDEZ is a bilingual attorney (English and Spanish). She lives with her husband, her two sons, two dogs and one cat in Norfolk, VA. Ms. Mendez is known for her tenaciousness in court, coupled with her calm and caring personality. She is active in local community theater, enjoys yoga and playing outside, and considers herself a taco-aficionado.

Education & Experience:

She has a B.S. degree in Psychology and a B.A. degree in Philosophy from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her collegiate experience includes an internship with the Central Intelligence Agency and study abroad in Spain at the University of Salamanca (top score in the International Fluency Exam for Spanish Translators). Ms. Mendez received her law degree from Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach. During law school, she volunteered as a tutor for juveniles at the Norfolk Detention Center and as a Student Bar Association mentor. She also interned for a year for the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Norfolk, VA.

Professional Memberships and Achievements:

Completed General Mediation Training

Honored as one of the “Top 40 Family Lawyers Under 40” by the American Society of Legal Advocates

Rated 9.8 (Superb) and also given the Client’s Choice Award for Family Law and Criminal Law by Avvo

Honored as a Top Attorney in the Hampton Roads area by Coastal Virginia Magazine

Honored by the National Trial Lawyer’s “Top 40 Under 40”

Regular Columnist in The Champion, the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ quarterly publication for its attorney members

Working towards full Virginia Supreme Court certification as a Mediator for General and Family Law cases

Virginia State Bar

Virginia Trial Lawyers Association

Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Norfolk-Portsmouth Bar Association

Practice Areas:

Family Law


Criminal Misdemeanor Defense


Where Admitted & Qualified to Practice:

All Virginia courts

United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia


FallonFALLON F. D’IPPOLITO has wanted to become an attorney ever since her eight-years-old self could impersonate one of Jack McCoy’s epic closing arguments in her living room to a panel of twelve Beanie Baby jurors. She is happy to be living out her lifelong dream of being a family law attorney and ecstatic to be starting out her legal career as part of the Commander Law team! 

Ms. D’Ippolito is a recent transplant to the Hampton Roads area and lives with her fiancé Christopher and their Chihuahua Rocco in Virginia Beach. She loves cooking, volunteering at domestic violence and homeless shelters, reading murder mystery books, and watching reruns of the Golden Girls.  

 Education and Experience: 

Ms. D’Ippolito graduated from Suffolk University in Boston, MA where she received a B.A. degree in Government and a B.A. degree in History. She received her law degree from New England Law | Boston in Boston, MA and is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts and Virginia. Before and while a law student, Ms. D’Ippolito worked full-time as a paralegal, working primarily in the areas of state and federal litigation, personal injury, workers’ compensation, and social security.

 Professional Memberships:

Massachusetts State Bar 

Virginia State Bar

Virginia Women Attorneys Association 

Virginia Trial Lawyers Association



SHANNON HADEED, Of Counsel. As a former prosecutor, Shannon is an experienced litigator in both criminal and civil cases, whether by jury or judge she is a zealous advocate for her clients. While a prosecutor, she trained the Lynchburg police department in subjects such as search warrants, misdemeanor arrests, and driving while intoxicated. She also taught DUI tactics to both troopers and police in the Commonwealth of Virginia through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

As a Guardian ad Litem for children, she is well versed in the tactics necessary to evaluate the best interests of the child in custody and divorce cases.

Ms. Hadeed has spent her entire professional career as a litigator. Whether through negotiation or representation in court, Ms. Hadeed represents her clients with a fierce determination.

Fluent in Spanish, Ms. Hadeed served for two and a half years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic before returning to the United States. She is also a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, assisting veterans such as her grandfather, Major Rudolph Webster.


DSC_8097ABIGAIL A. 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.



EMILY BACKUS, Administrative Assistant, is the friendly voice on the other end of the phone when you call our office and she’s the smiling face that greets you when you walk in. She assists our clients in scheduling their appointments and often is known to build strong personal relationships with our clients.

She’s currently a Psychology major at Norfolk State University and loves it.

Emily is a huge car buff and has “a need for speed.” Her favorite car is a Nissan 370Z in red, her favorite color. She likes to spend her time admiring shiny hunks of metal and appropriately watching Law and Order SUV while eating Cheez-Its.


Holly_BerryHOLLY 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.