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Building Trust

It’s just one of the lessons Geoffrey Brown learned during his tour of duty in Bosnia

Published in 2022 Virginia Super Lawyers magazine

When Geoffrey Brown entered the law program at Notre Dame in 1997, he cut a slightly different figure than the typical first-year student. He was older (just shy of 26), married, and had seen the world. For 2½ years he was an active-duty Army field artillery officer, much of that as part of the U.S. contribution to the NATO peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.

“That year I spent in Bosnia taught me some things I will never forget,” says Brown, who practices plaintiff’s personal injury law at Bordas & Bordas in Wheeling. 

In Capardi, a small town in east central Bosnia, he says, “It was a chaotic situation when I arrived—a population that was seriously deprived and scared.” Brown’s company was there to establish a peacekeeping presence—guarding the community, reassuring the population, and meeting with local leaders to listen to concerns about security. “We had a small checkpoint, and would go on patrol,” he says. “They were very nice, caring, respectful people. They understood that we were there to provide them with some breathing room.”

His military service reinforced Brown’s appreciation of the U.S. judicial system. “The lasting memory I take from my time there was how lucky we are to live in the United States,” he says, “and how lucky we are to be able to raise our families in an environment of relative peace, stability and safety.” 

Brown grew up in Burlington, Vermont, attended West Point, where he earned a degree in mathematical economics, and became a research assistant to an antitrust expert. When his tour of duty ended, Brown entered the law program at Notre Dame, then joined Jones Day’s Cleveland office, where he did antitrust work for 1½ years.  

He is a member of a number of legal associations, and his duties include meeting occasionally with elected officials and others who shape public policy—a skill set he honed on his tour of duty. 

Trust-building—mainly between the soldiers and the Bosnians they were guarding—was another crucial skill that Brown developed in the Army. These days, Brown emphasizes trust in the bonds he forms with clients. 

“I have found it extremely rewarding to take people who have experienced a tragedy and help them seek fair and just compensation,” he reflects. “We understand that the loss they are coming to us with is uniquely theirs, and hopefully, by always putting their interests first over the course of the relationship—which can take years—a level of trust is developed that permits my clients to allow me to make important decisions in the case and navigate the legal system for them.”

As for why he ended up in Wheeling, that was happenstance. While attending Notre Dame, Brown became friends with Jamie Bordas, whose parents had a firm in Wheeling. The younger Bordas recruited Brown to the firm in 2002, and Brown and his wife, Beth, moved to West Virginia. They quickly came to love the community where they are raising their four children. 

“The people are really nice, the schools are excellent, and we’ve made lifelong friends,” Brown says. “A lot of people don’t know how beautiful West Virginia is.”

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