Education of Lawyers in Virginia Section

by Lawrence H. Hoover Jr., chair

The purposes of the Education of Lawyers Section are well summarized in the “Mission Statement of the Five-Year Plan of Goals and Objectives,” revised and adopted by the Board of Governors under the leadership of Jeffrey M. Summers, who chaired the committee that developed the plan. It states:

The Section of the Education of Lawyers in Virginia conducts programs,   publishes and distributes educational and professional materials, and undertakes other activities which will enhance the cooperation and interaction among the law schools, the bench and the practicing bar in Virginia regarding the education and training of lawyers from their entry into law school and throughout their careers.

The section board of governors carried out the section's mission in fiscal 2010 by publishing two issues of its newsletter, Education & Practice, ably edited by James M. Boland, an associate professor at Regent University School of Law. The primary focus of these issues was the need for changes in the curriculum so that the law school experience prepares students not only to pass the bar, but also to practice law.

The section sponsored a Town Hall Meeting during the Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach. The program focused on the fundamental skills and knowledge base needed for a new lawyer to attain competence across a range of legal matters. The presenters included law school deans and professors, judges, practicing lawyers, and several law students, and it became clear that there is not universal agreement about the correct balance between substantive and practice-oriented courses. Board of governors members Rodney A. Smolla and John H. Foote designed and coordinated the panel, which was moderated by Dean Smolla.

The Professionalism Program for Law Students, developed by the section and the VSB Standing Committee on Professionalism, was again offered to first-year students at each of Virginia's accredited law schools. These sessions continued to be well attended, and the student evaluations were positive. William E. Glover and U.S. Magistrate Judge B. Waugh Crigler cochaired this project.
Immediate Past Chair Henry L. Chambers Jr. served as chair of the nominating committee, whose members included Judge Crigler of Charlottesville, Jeanne R. Franklin of Alexandria, George K. Martin of Richmond, and Frank W. Morrison of Lynchburg.

The officers for 2010-11 are Professor A. Benjamin Spencer, chair; Judge Crigler, vice chair; and Anita B. Poston, secretary.

John Foote is returning for a second board term. New Board members are Alan S. Goldberg, Judge H. Thomas Padrick Jr., Sharon E. Pandak, William E. Thro,   and Wilson F. Vellines  Jr.
We appreciate the financial support to the section provided by all eight Virginia laws schools and the following law firms: Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore LLP, Vandeventer Black LLP, and Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley, Emrich & Walsh PC.

During the final board meeting there was a discussion about convening a conclave on educating lawyers in 2012. This would be an opportunity to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the section — the first of its kind in the country. The vision for the section came out of a 1992 conclave convened by William R. Rakes, then president of the VSB. Rakes served on the panel for this year’s Town Hall Meeting.

Updated: Mar 08, 2011