Communications Committee

Elizabeth A. Andrews, chair

Law in Society Essay Contest

Among the responsibilities of the committee is administration of the Law in Society Essay Contest, which was developed to increase awareness of and appreciation for the US Constitution and legal system. The contest is cosponsored by the Litigation Section. We received 57 entries from 38 schools this year, of which 52 were advanced for judging. Last year (2013-14), we had 201 entries but only 120 were advanced to judging, and the year before (2012-13) we had 47 entries and almost all of them were advanced to judging. In 2011-12 we had 281 entries. The committee noted that in the years we have fewer entries, more are on-point and meet the overarching criteria, so they are advanced to judging. In an effort to increase the number of entries next year, the committee decided to increase the contest period from the current fifteen weeks to seventeen weeks, starting September 14. The earlier start means the committee will have to develop and write the LIS hypothetical during the summer, a task that can be done on e-mail. The committee also discussed additional methods to reach out to home-schooled students.

Remy Oliver, a senior at Dominion High School in Sterling, was awarded first place this year. This year’s essay contest asked students to address a situation in fictional Rocktown, Virginia, where Angel Bradford, a Rocktown High School alumna and now CEO of a large dairy conglomerate, is invited by a public school principal to speak at commencement. Twelfth-grader Susan Statler, president of the school’s Animal Rights Club, begins an online petition to prevent Bradford from speaking, not only at RHS but also at a local private school, citing claims of animal abuse within the CEO’s company. Adding to the chaos, Bradford contemplates suing Susan and the Animal Rights Club for defamation. The schools’ principals and students appeal to a retired judge (the student essay writer) to resolve the issue in a way that conforms with the law and calms the community.

Publication of Virginia Lawyer and Virginia Lawyer Register

This fiscal year marked the first in which our two publications were combined under one cover in a cost-savings effort. We also increased the number of magazines from five to six per year in an effort to get information to members in a timely manner. Issues focused on The Senior Lawyers Conference, Ethics, Pro Bono, Construction Law, and Trusts and Estates. We also began publishing “Law Stories” – short features written by members of the bar about their experiences. We also began using more in-house graphics to illustrate the magazine.

PRSA Award

Virginia Lawyer was recognized by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Richmond Chapter as a creative and effective communications tool among other magazines throughout the Central Virginia region. The VSB Communications Department staff attended PRSA’s annual Virginia PR Awards on May 21 to accept the award. Virginia Lawyer won an Award of Merit in the Capital Awards category. The Capital Awards are for specific communications tactics as part of an overall public relations program or campaign.

Social media

The committee approved the YLC’s Cyberbullying pamphlet. Additionally, in an effort to further publicize the video briefs produced by the VSB last year, the committee asked VSB staff to place a link to the videos on the VSB mobile site, send the VSB magazine article about them to local bar associations, and send a note to VSB section and committee chairs about them.

Karl Doss, director of Access to Legal Services, presented the Access Committee’s plans for social media to the Communications Committee. Doss said the goal was to increase and improve outreach, promote access to legal services, share information, and raise awareness. The committee plans to roll out its social media plan on Facebook and LinkedIn first. If it works out, it may expand to Twitter. Communications Committee members said they were favorably impressed with the plan but want to see what it would look like in practice.  The committee asked Doss to return in the fall with an update. The Communications Committee said it would like to explore setting up a social media subcommittee.

Membership

Elizabeth A. Andrews, chair; Mary L.C. Daniel, vice-chair; Kristin B. Burch, Alan H. Cooper, Kelly C. Cutler, David A. Hirsch, Patrick B. McDermott, Michael A. Nicholas, Keith D. Parsons, Robert M. Tyler, Joseph F. Verser, and Reiss F. Wilks. Bar liaison, Gordon Hickey.

Updated: Jul 20, 2015