Attorney Derrick Thomas dies at age 61
Jeremy M. Lazarus | 12/28/2023, 6 p.m.
Protecting the injured was a calling for Attorney Derrick Thomas.
Based in Chesterfield County, he earned a reputation for being a personable and well-prepared trial lawyer who looked out for the clients he represented in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases, estate litigation and business and civil disputes.
His motto was “Excellence in advocacy, one case at a time.”
“He went all in for his clients,” said Linda Thomas, his wife of 34 years.
A Philadelphia native, Mr. Thomas practiced law for 33 years, including 10 years as a solo practitioner before his death on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023. His family said the 61-year-old attorney succumbed to complications from the autoimmune disease scleroderma.
His life is to be celebrated 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 28, at Fifth Street Baptist, 2800 Third Ave. in Richmond’s North Side, where he was an active member.
Born in South Philadelphia, he began his legal career after graduating from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he also met his wife.
He later earned his law degree at the University of Pittsburgh.
But he also flirted with having a military career like his brother and an uncle.
Mrs. Thomas said he took a year off from Indiana University to enlist in the Army Reserves. He returned to school to enroll in the Reserve Officers Training Corps and after graduation served two years in the Pennsylvania National Guard.
After completing his law degree in 1989, he enlisted in the U.S. Marines and became a member of the Judge Advocate General Corps for the service.
After leaving the JAG Corps, he and his wife moved to Richmond.
Mr. Thomas burnished his skills at several law firms, including Cowan and Owen, Troutman Sanders and Setliff & Holland, before starting The Thomas Law Firm PLLC in 2013.
He was a member of the Virginia State, Hill Tucker, Old Dominion Virginia, and American Bar Associations.
Outside the office, he sought to live out his Christian faith by giving back and seeking to make a difference for others, his wife said.
He served as a deacon at Fifth Street Baptist and chaired the board of the church’s scholarship arm, the Jennie M. Shaw Community Development Foundation that is named for a highly regarded congregant who is now deceased.
He also served as legal adviser to MEGA Mentors and as counsel and as chair of the Benevolence and Election committees of the Richmond Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.
“He never sought credit. He focused on getting the job done the right way and with a smile,” Mrs. Thomas said.
Mr. Thomas also was a member of the Prince Hall Masons. He belonged to Social Lodge No. 6 F&AM. He also was a Shriner who belonged to Mocha Temple No. 7 in Jackson Ward.
He also was an active member of the Big Dawg Golf Group.
Survivors also include his daughter, Gianna Thomas; two sons, Evian Thomas and Corbin Thomas; his mother, Elise Fisher; stepfather, Ronald Fisher; sister Michelle Drummond; brother, Darryl Thomas; stepbrother Douglas Fisher; stepsisters Karen Stokes, Tammy Fisher and Theresa Fisher; and two grandchildren.