Access to Legal Services

Joanna L. Suyes, Chair

Co-vice chairs: James A. Ferguson, Tara L. Casey

Members[1]: Marie Appleby, Polly Chong, Jennifer Grace Dean, Paul Garrett, Valerie L’Herrou, Lauren Mehoskey, Lonnie D. (“Chip”) Nunley, Robert J. Poggenklass, Adrienne M. Sakyi, Dr. A. Michael Signer, James W. Speer, Susan J. Stanford-Stoney, The Honorable Yvette Ayala Via

Ex-officio:      Mark D. Braley, LSCV Executive Director

VSB staff:       Karl A. Doss, VSB Access to Legal Services Director

2014-15 Priorities

The Access Committee identified the following priorities for 2014-15:

  1. Increasing outreach to recruit pro bono lawyers;
  2. Providing free training on issues in which there is a critical need for pro bono lawyers, such as representation of domestic violence survivors and special immigrant juveniles;
  3. Working collaboratively with legal aid and non-profit legal services organizations, private law firms and justice system stakeholders on matters of equal justice policy;
  4. Continuing to explore and develop public and private funding streams for legal aid offices;
  5. Assisting and supporting the efforts of the Supreme Court of Virginia Access to Justice Commission; and
  6. Serving as a repository of access to justice information for the public.

Meetings:

The Committee met in Richmond on 09/4/2014, 1/26/2015, and 04/20/2015 and during the joint Pro Bono Conference/Virginia Legal Aid Conference in Portsmouth on October 22, 2014.

Over the course of the Bar Year, the Access Committee has established subcommittees to work on several access to justice issues.

  • Awards Subcommittee – reviews nominations for and recommends recipients of the Legal Aid, Oliver Hill Law Student Pro Bono and Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Attorney Pro Bono Awards (Chair – Jim Ferguson; Members – Polly Chong, Susan Stanford Stoney). Met on  8/29/2014 and  4/1/2015
  • Funding Subcommittee – explores opportunities to increase public and private funding of Virginia’s legal aid offices (Chair – Chip Nunley; Members - Marie Appleby, Mark Braley, and Tara Casey). Met on  12/4/2014 and 3/17/2015
  • Legal Education Access Subcommittee – considers how to increase access to justice by reducing barriers posed by the cost of a law school education for students and graduates interested in public sector careers (Chair - Rob Poggenklass; Members - Mark Braley, Tara Casey, Jennifer Dean, and Chief Magistrate Yvette Via; and Clarence Dunnaville, advisory member).  Met  on 3/21/2015 and 5/21/2015
  • Pro Bono Training/CLE Subcommittee – recommends topics, presenters, and speakers for various Access Committee-sponsored trainings and events including the annual Legal Aid Luncheon and Pro Bono Conference (Chair – Tara Casey; Members – Mark Braley, Chip Nunley, and Chief Magistrate Yvette Via).  Met on 2/11/2015
  • Social Media Subcommittee – develops policy, establishes guidelines, and provides oversight  of the Access Committee’s potential use of social media for outreach to the Bar and members of the public concerning access to justice issues, pro bono trainings, events  and service opportunities  (Chair – Jennifer Dean; Members – Chris Fortier, advisory member). Met on 3/31/2015, 4/16/2015 and 5/20/2015

During regular Access Committee meetings, subcommittees would report on their work and receive input from the entire Committee. Over the course of the year, the Committee and subcommittees heard about access to justice issues from numerous guests, including Jess Rosenbaum. Executive Director, Washington D.C. Access to Justice Commission; Tom Edmunds, VSB Council; Ed Weiner, VSB president-elect; attorney Clarence Dunnaville; Heather Jarvis, nationally recognized law school debt counsellor and expert; and Sandy Sanders, Latagne Legal Printing.

Conferences, webinars, and seminars

The 2014 Virginia State Bar Pro Bono Conference was held on October 22, 2014, in Portsmouth in conjunction with the Virginia Legal Aid Conference. This was the first time these events were held together, and attendees were welcome to attend sessions at either conference. The conference featured CLE presentations “Ethical Considerations in Pro Bono Delivering Competent, Client-Focused Representation,” “Innovative Ways to Deliver Pro Bono Services” and “JusticeServer Demonstration.”

In order to increase outreach to and recruitment of pro bono attorneys as well as to provide training to legal aid lawyers, public defenders and court appointed attorneys on matters of substantive law, the Access to Legal Services Committee collaborated with law firms and non-profit legal services organizations to offer several webinars and seminars during the 2014-15 bar year:

Webinars

  • Meeting the Legal Needs of Individuals Facing Serious Illness Through Pro Bono: Part 5 – Housing Law, July 23, 2014 (co-sponsored by Legal Information Network for Cancer)
  • Before You Say "Yes" to Serving on a Board, Know What Is Expected: Part 1- Duties and Responsibilities of Board Members, September 23, 2014 (co-sponsored by Sands Anderson PC and the Pro Bono Clearinghouse of the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation)
  • Pro Bono and Special Immigrant Juveniles: Best Practices for Family Court Practitioners, October 3, 2014 (co-sponsored by the Legal Aid Justice Center, Ayuda and the Poarch Law Firm)
  • Representing Victims of Domestic Violence: Part 1 - Introduction and Pro Bono Opportunities, October 7, 2014 (co-sponsored by the Virginia Poverty Law Center and Good Samaritan Advocates)
  • Before You Say "Yes" to Serving on a Board, Know What Is Expected: Part 2 - Ethical Duties of Attorneys, October 15, 2014 (co-sponsored by Sands Anderson PC and the Pro Bono Clearinghouse of the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation)
  • Representing Victims of Domestic Violence: Part 2 - The Nuts and Bolts of Protective Orders, October 16, 2014 (co-sponsored by the Virginia Poverty Law Center and Good Samaritan Advocates)
  • Representing Victims of Domestic Violence: Part 3 - Custody, Support and Visitation, October 28, 2014 (co-sponsored by the Virginia Poverty Law Center and Good Samaritan Advocates)
  • Representing Victims of Domestic Violence: Part 4 - VAWA-360, November 5, 2014 (co-sponsored by the Virginia Poverty Law Center and Good Samaritan Advocates)
  • Representing Victims of Domestic Violence: Part 5 - U Visas, November 14, 2014  (co-sponsored by the Virginia Poverty Law Center and Good Samaritan Advocates)
  • Before You Say "Yes" to Serving on a Board, Know What Is Expected: Part 3 - Key Components of Board Leadership, November 19, 2014 (co-sponsored by Sands Anderson PC and the Pro Bono Clearinghouse of the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation)
  • Federal Income Tax and the Affordable Care Act (ACA): Considerations for Survivors of Domestic Violence, March 24, 2015 (co-sponsored by the Virginia Poverty Law Center and the Community Tax Law Project)
  • Uncontested Divorces: A Webinar for Pro Bono Lawyers in Northern Virginia, April 21, 2015 (co-sponsored by Legal Services of Northern Virginia and the VSB Young Lawyers Conference)
  • Immigration Consequences of Juvenile Delinquency Adjudications, May 21, 2015 (co-sponsored by the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission and CAIR Coalition)

Seminars

  • Pro Bono and Special Immigrant Juveniles, April 8, 2015, Harrisonburg-Rockingham Bar Association meeting (co-sponsored by the Legal Aid Justice Center, the Poarch Law Firm, and Virginia Bar Association Young Lawyers Division)
  • Pro Bono Representation of Victims of Human Trafficking, April 17, 2015, University of Richmond–Downtown Campus (co-sponsored by the US Committee on Refugees and Immigrants, Ayuda, and the Gray Haven Project)
  • Pro Bono and Special Immigrant Juveniles, June 4, 2015, Legal Aid Justice Center—Charlottesville office (co-sponsored by the Legal Aid Justice Center)

Access to Legal Services Committee-sponsored and co-sponsored MCLE programs offered more than 29 hours of continuing legal education credit and were attended by over 1,000 people.[2]

Awards:

During the October 2014 Pro Bono Conference, the Committee presented the Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Pro Bono Award to the Legal Information Network for Cancer (LINC) and Harrisonburg attorneys Glenn M. Hodge of Wharton, Aldhizer & Weaver and M. Steven Weaver of Clark & Bradshaw.  VSB President-Elect Ed Weiner was the master of ceremonies and Hon. William C. Mims, Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, gave the guest remarks. More than 200 people attended this event.

On June 19, 2015 at the VSB Annual Meeting, the Committee presented the Oliver White Hill Law Student Pro Bono Award to Katherine Moss of Washington and Lee University School of Law and its Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award to Jeremy P. White, managing attorney of the Lynchburg office of the Virginia Legal Aid Society. Hon. S. Bernard Goodwyn, Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia and co-chair of the Virginia Access to Justice Commission, provided guest remarks. Approximately 100 people were in attendance including VSB president Kevin Martingayle, incoming president Ed Weiner, incoming president-elect Michael Robinson, Virginia Supreme Court justices William Mims and Cleo Powell, and U.S. Rep. Robert (Bobby) Scott.

Other activities:

  • October 2014 issue of “Virginia Lawyer”.  The Access to Legal Services Committee assisted the VSB Communications staff to select topics and recruit contributors for the October 2014 issue of Virginia Lawyer magazine, which focused on “Improving Access to Justice and Pro Bono Services in Virginia”.  This issue featured 11 articles on access to justice and pro bono topics, and contributors included Hon. Cynthia D. Kinser, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia; James J. Sandman, president of Legal Services Corporation; Justina Uram-Mubango, executive director of Good Samaritan Advocates; Mark Braley, executive director, Legal Services Corporation of Virginia; John Whitfield, executive director, Blue Ridge Legal Services; Crista Whitman Gantz, client services attorney, Legal Information Network for Cancer; Carolyn Kalantari, managing attorney at Legal Aid Justice Center; and Richard DiMeglio, program attorney at Virginia CLE.
  • Senior Law Day Program. The Access to Legal Services Committee and VSB Senior Lawyers Conference co-sponsored the Eastern Henrico Senior Law Day program on November 7, 2014 at Antioch Baptist Church in Varina.
  • Pro Bono Survey for Independent Legal Services organizations. Because there is no comprehensive data collection system to quantify the level of participation of private attorneys in pro bono work outside of the legal aid offices, in December 2014, the Access Committee developed and distributed a survey for independent legal services organizations to report pro bono. Organizations receiving the survey were asked to submit data through June 30, 2015.  
  • Supreme Court of Virginia Access to Justice Commission. Mark Braley continues to serve on the Virginia Access to Justice Commission and is a member of the Commission’s Judicial Education and Outreach and Education Committees. Susan Stanford Stoney serves on the Committee on Access for Self-Represented Litigants. Karl Doss is a member of the Pro Bono and Outreach and Education Committees.
  • Virginia Bar Association Pro Bono Council. Virginia Bar Association president Pete Johnson appointed Chip Nunley, Mark Braley, and Karl Doss to serve on the VBA Pro Bono Council.
  • Immigrant Outreach Committee Pro Bono CLE Series: Understanding Affirmative Asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Karl Doss made a presentation “The Justice Gap in Virginia and the Rules of Professional Conduct” at the VSB Young Lawyers Conference’s Immigrant Outreach Committee CLE program Understanding Affirmative Asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status on March 11, 2015, at George Mason University School of Law in Fairfax.
  • VSB Solo & Small Firm Practitioner Forums. Karl Doss provided information about pro bono and access to justice issues at the VSB Solo & Small Firm Practitioner Forums in Prince William County on March 20, 2015, and in Harrisonburg on June 12, 2015.

Officers (2015-16):  Chip Nunley, Chair; Tara L. Casey and Susan Stanford-Stoney, Co-Vice Chairs

New Members (2015-16):  Crystal Twitty, Rachel Jones

[1] Lauren Mehoskey and Michael Signer ended their service on the Committee  and Valerie L’Herrou was appointed to the Committee in March 2015.  Jim Ferguson term ends June 30, 2015.

[2] During 2014-15, 901 people attended  webinars, 77 attended seminars, and 47 people attended sessions during the Pro Bono Conference.

Updated: Jul 20, 2015