Special Committee on Access to Legal Services

Andrea L. Bridgeman, chair


Membership, officers, committees

Chair: Andrea L. Bridgeman
Co-vice chairs: Raymond A. Hartz and Crystal Y. Twitty

Members:   
H. Patrick (Pat) Cline Jr.
James A. (Jim) Ferguson
Janet James [1]
Eva N. Juncker
Steven L. (Steve) Myers
Margaret A. Nelson
Grady A. Palmer III
Susan C. Proctor
Nancy M. Reed
Susan J. (Sue) Stanford-Stoney
Julie M. Strandlie
Joanna L. Suyes

Subcommittees: Awards & Speakers/Nelson; Branding/Suyes; CLE Planning & Special Projects

Mark D. Braley, Ex Officio, LSCV Executive Director
Mary Yancey Spencer, VSB Deputy Executive Director
Maureen K. Petrini, VSB Access to Legal Services Director
Paulette J. Davidson, VSB Access to Legal Services staff


Meetings and Activities

The committee met in Richmond on 9/20/11 and 2/24/12, at New Millennium Studios in Petersburg on 3/26/12, at the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville on 11/10/11 (scheduled to coincide with the Diversity Conference’s Forum on Increasing Diversity in the Legal Profession at UVA Law School).   In Charlottesville, Alex Gulotta and Abigail Turner introduced LAJC’s Institutionalized Persons Project,  including geriatric parole and pro bono assistance for prisoners reentering the community;  Clarence Dunnaville (2009 Powell Awardee) suggested mandatory pro bono for law students using a modified third-year practice rule and expanding that rule to younger law students, possibly in conjunction with revising the Emeritus Rule.  This generated discussion of the negative impact on pro bono activity that might result from proposed procedures for Supreme Court Rule 1A:3 to revoke the bar membership of lawyers, no longer working full time in the commonwealth, admitted to practice under the reciprocity rule. 


CLE Programs

The committee sponsored two free, open access CLE programs this year on topics of current interest, both expertly conceived and moderated by member Nelson: 

  1. “The Plea:  Ethics and Expediency at a Crossroads” on 3/26/12, addressed difficult issues involving plea agreements and incorporated portions of the award-winning 2009 docudrama American Violet and a PBS Frontline program; panelists James McCauley, VSB Ethics Counsel, Alex N. Levay Jr., Chair, Indigent Defense Task Force, of Leesburg, and Richmond Prosecutor Michael N. Herring. [Two ethics CLE credit hours]
  1. A conversation with Corban Addison, Charlottesville attorney/advocate/novelist, Follow the Money—Domestic Legislative Efforts to Curb the Trafficking of Women, on 6/14/12 in conjunction with the Annual Meeting, exceeded expectations, particularly as to attendance (40+), with many meeting attendees bringing their families.[2]  [One CLE credit hour]


Annual Meeting Activities

The Legal Aid Award luncheon at the Beachfront Cavalier honored Abigail Turner[3], litigation director at the LAJC, and Peyton Whiteley, legal advocacy coordinator at Legal Services of Northern Virginia.  We were pleased by the turnout and honored by the number of judges attending (seated throughout the tables thanks to Ret. Judge James Benton), with Justices Cleo Powell and William Mims at the head table, the latter as the featured speaker.  The chair and chair-elect met with the Legal Aid Project directors and the Legal Services Corporation staff person assigned to the Virginia programs prior to the award luncheon:  discussion involved, inter alia, more open lines of communication between the committee and the project directors.

The committee again maintained a booth at the Expo, and sponsored the companion Access to Justice Book [and Media] Fair.  Friday featured an all-day display by Fountain Books of Richmond with a book-signing by Corban Addison, author of the critically-acclaimed novel A Walk Across the Sun, who presented at the CLE (see above).   


Other Notable Activities

  1. The chair was honored to attend the VBA’s roll-out of the Justice Server technology concept in Richmond on 1/12/12, which brought together legal aid providers, private attorneys, bar representatives and corporate attorneys and non-lawyer technical volunteers to enhance and encourage pro bono activity across the state. 
  2. Committee-sponsored activities open to the public in Petersburg on 3/26/12, tantamount to a pro bono conference, centered on the Powell and Hill Award presentations to Robert F. Redmond Jr. (Richmond) and Salima Burke (Charlottesville), respectively:
    • Guided walking tour of Old Towne Petersburg,
    • At Millennium Studios:  Committee meeting, followed by a studio tour/lunch and the CLE (replicable), as described above,
    • Siege Museum,
    • Awards ceremony at the historic Petersburg Courthouse, followed by a hearty reception.
  3. Five Committee members attended the Supreme Court’s Pro Bono Summit on 4/24/12.
  4. Member Strandlie coordinated “ABA Day” Congressional visits 4/17-19/12; she joined VSB President George Warren Shanks, Executive Director Karen Gould and other Virginians to Capitol Hill to educate our elected representatives about the need for funding the administration of justice. 
  5. Members Bridgeman and Twitty attended the ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference in Jacksonville 5/18-19/12 and were pleased to have Justice Bernard Goodwyn and President George Shanks at several sessions.  
  6. The committee is grateful to the bar for publishing member Nelson’s article in the 10/11 Virginia Lawyer, “Clients Need More Than Advocates, They Need Our Help,”  which focused on collateral consequences of criminal convictions.


Activities with Entities with Overlapping Interests

  1. Two members are liaisons to VSB entities engaged in important related bar work: Nelson is a voting member of the Indigent Defense Task Force, which is exploring the feasibility of amending the court rule covering discovery in criminal cases, and Juncker is the committee’s observer-liaison to, and a member of, the board of governors of the VSB Diversity Conference (website: www.dcvsb.org/). 
  2. Committee Chair Bridgeman spoke on panels at the 9/11 Lavender Law Conf. (Reaching Communities Most in Need: Innovative Projects Serving Low-Income LGBT Clients) in LA & at the 3/12 Pro Bono Institute Annual Conf. (Ethics/Multi-Jurisdictional Pro Bono) in DC.
  3. Members Bridgeman, Ferguson and Stoney attended Legal Services of Northern Virginia’s gala fundraising event in Vienna on 10/1/11. 
  4. A 10/14/10 George Mason Law School program on careers in public service, with 2011 Powell Awardee Bill Reichhardt as a panelist, received committee organizational support.
  5. Members Bridgeman and Nelson and VSB staff liaison Petrini attended portions of the Legal Aid Statewide Conference in Virginia Beach on 10/26-27/11.
  6. Members Bridgeman, Stoney and Strandlie supported (as volunteers or participants) the Fairfax Bar Foundation’s 5K Run for Justice at Tysons Corner in May.  (The FBF supports, inter alia, the Northern Virginia Pro Bono Center.
  7. The 6/7/12 Alexandria/Arlington/Fairfax Pro Bono Volunteer recognition event at the Fairfax County Courthouse was attended by members Bridgeman, Ferguson, and Stoney. 


Budget

Committee expenses totaled about $8,442 in FY 2011-121.  The Access to Legal Services Program departmental expenses were $103,940--more than 5 percent below this year’s  budget (some events were underwritten by outside entities).  Because the committee sponsors numerous activities at the VSB Annual Meeting and many of our members are sole or small-firm practitioners or employees of law-related public interest groups, such as licensed legal aid societies, we would like to explore, with the Committee to Study the Annual Meeting (BAM), potential bar underwriting of the modest travel-related expenses of our members who volunteer significant amounts of their time at committee-sponsored Annual Meeting events.  

We are very grateful for the mission-directed service of all Access Committee members and of our VSB liaison Maureen Petrini and to CLBA staff liaison Paulette Davidson.



[1]  Ms. James resigned from the Committee in November, 2011;  we thank her for her energy, insight and years of tireless service to the Bar and to needy Virginians.

[2]  In August, Marty Wegbreit, attorney with CVLAS, produced two radio programs (It’s Time for Justice, on Richmond’s WRIR 97.3 FM) on human trafficking that featured Addison;  podcasts of these and over 170 other of his broadcasts are available at http://radio4all.net/index.php/contributor/3999

[3]  Ms. Turner was also honored for her work by the National Legal Aid and Defenders’ Association with the 2012 Kutak-Dodds Award at a dinner in Washington D.C. on 6/6/12.

 

Updated: Nov 08, 2012