For a very fleeting moment during my college years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I wanted to be a lawyer. Although I fell more in love with journalism, I’ve always had an admiration for the legal profession. And after working for a decade as news reporter in this area (and being inside the courtroom for plenty of cases), I gained a lot of respect for lawyers too.

More often than not, when you need to find a lawyer, it’s not for something good. From divorce to bankruptcy, lawyers are there to help people and businesses through some of their most difficult times by navigating through a very complex system of paperwork and/or court appearances.

If that time comes for you, who do you call? Do you Google “lawyers in Lynchburg” or just rely on your friend’s experience with his or her lawyer?

Lynchburg Business is kicking of a brand new campaign to help you get a jump start: Top Lawyers of Greater Lynchburg 2016. Lynchburg Business contracted a company called DataJoe to do a peer-to-peer survey; lawyers in the region were asked to nominate each other for this contest. Starting on page 21, find out who received the most nominations to become this year’s Top Lawyer and see the full list of lawyers in over 30 specialties. This section also includes an in-depth look at how lawyers are using social media in their field. While, as a group, they may have been slow to join the movement, you may be surprised at how much some lawyers have embraced it.

Another huge topic you may be very confused about right now: social security. What’s really going to happen years (maybe many, maybe just a few) from now when you want to draw your benefits? We are taking a much closer look at this topic that affects, well, all of us. On page 17, financial planners discuss some of the myths and truths about social security so you can get your facts straight.

And as we ease into 2017, local economic development leaders are creating new goals for the new year. On page 14, hear from Megan Lucas and Christine Kennedy (Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance), Susan Martin (Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce) and Dennis Jarvis (Economic Development Director, Altavista). They each have written a short column that includes their vision for the region’s economy. (Spoiler: the outlook is very positive for Central Virginia!)

I sincerely hope you are having a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones. From all of us at Lynchburg Business, we wish you the best!

Shelley Basinger, Managing Editor