Report of the Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer

Karen A. Gould

Membership in the Virginia State Bar grew slowly this year. Total “in good standing” membership increased to 46,314, an increase of 779 or 1.7 percent more than the previous year’s count of 45,535. This is a reduction of last year’s increase of 2.3 percent.

 

2011-12

2010-11

Active 29,602 28,749
Corporate Counsel Admittees 913 1,264
Corporate Counsel Registrants 455 436
Associate 12,263 12,038
Judicial 1,168 1,140
Retired/Disabled 1,913 1,908
Total 46,314 45,535

As of June 30, 2012, 40,208 VSB members have registered for a Member Login at vsb.org; 2,428 have elected not to be listed in the Virginia Lawyer Directory, a searchable public directory.

Bar activities, officers, and council during 2011-12

Karen A. Gould has served as executive director since January 1, 2008.

George Warren Shanks of Luray served as president of the bar from June 18, 2011, until June 16, 2012. George focused his term on speaking to local bar associations about the VSB’s regulatory mission, its outreach activities through the Conference of Local Bar Associations and how it handles it finances for the benefit of Virginia’s lawyers.

W. David Harless became president of the Virginia State Bar at its annual meeting on June 16, 2012. He was sworn in by Michael W. Smith of Christian & Barton LLP. Sharon D. Nelson, president-elect, was unopposed in the 2011 election for that office to serve during 2012-2013.

Ms. Nelson will serve ex officio on the VSB Executive Committee during 2012-2013 as president-elect. Brian L. Buniva, Tracy A. Giles, Ray W. King, and Kevin E. Martingayle will continue to serve on the executive committee during the 2012-2013 bar year. D. Susie Baker Cox and Doris E. H. Causey were elected by the council as new members of the 2012-13 executive committee, replacing Mr. Shanks and Ms. Nelson. P. George Eliades II and F. Warren Haynie Jr., the new chairs of the Conference of Local Bar Associations and Senior Lawyers Conference, respectively, and Brian R. Charville, the incoming president of the Young Lawyers Conference, complete the 2012-13 roster of the executive committee.

The chair-elect of the Diversity Conference, Peter C. Burnett, became its chair at the bar’s Annual Meeting and will represent the Diversity Conference at the council meetings for the 2012-13 fiscal year. 

Uncontested council elections resulted in the following elections:

4th Circuit        I. Lionel Hancock (reelected)
13th Circuit      Paula S. Beran
                          Doris H. Causey (reelected)
                          George W. Marget III (reelected)
                          Eric M. Page (reelected)
                          O. Randy Rollins (reelected)
16th Circuit      Bruce T. Clark (reelected)
17th Circuit      Adam D. Elfenbein (reelected)
                          David A. Oblon (reelected)
18th Circuit      Foster B. Friedman
                         Alan S. Anderson (reelected)
19th Circuit     William B. Porter
                         Luis A. Perez
                         Melinda L. VanLowe
                         Peter D. Greenspun (reelected)
                         Catherine M. Reese (reelected)
                         Michael E. Robinson (reelected)
21st Circuit     Joan Ziglar
23rd Circuit    Tracy A. Giles (reelected)
28th Circuit     Roy F. Evans Jr. (reelected)
30th Circuit     William E. Bradshaw

Contested council elections resulted in the following elections with winners denoted by underline:

12th Circuit    Graham C. Daniels
                        M. Duncan Minton Jr.

14th Circuit    Roger T. Creager
                        Thomas A. Edmonds
                        Daniel L. Rosenthal

There was one circuit meeting to elect a council representative. The 8th Circuit met on April 12th to elect its council representative.  Patrick McDermott had served two terms and was ineligible to serve another term.  Lesa J. Yeatts of Hampton ran unopposed for the position.

The Supreme Court of Virginia reappointed the following council-at-large members for three-year terms that begin July 1, 2012:

Darrel Tillar Mason,  Manakin Sabot
Savalle C. Sims, Silver Spring, MD

The Supreme Court of Virginia appointed Lorrie A. Sinclair of Leesburg to an at-large council seat for a three-year term that begins on July 1, 2012: 

Effective December 22, 2011, the Supreme Court of Virginia appointed Beverly P. Leatherbury of Eastville as a new council member-at-large for the unexpired term of council member-at-large Judge W. Revell Lewis III, the term ending June 30, 2013.

The following conference chairs and president will serve on council during the 2012-2013 bar year:

Plato G. Eliades II, Conference of Local Bar Associations
F. Warren Haynie Jr., Senior Lawyers Conference
Brian R. Charville, Young Lawyers Conference
Peter C. Burnett, Diversity Conference

In summary, council consists of the three officers, four conference chairs, nine at-large members appointed by the Supreme Court of Virginia, and sixty-five elected members.

Membership Director’s Death

Diane Balch, long-time Director of Membership for the VSB, died unexpectedly on December 24, 2011. She was a devoted employee of the VSB and will be sorely missed. 

Gale Cartwright, MCLE Director, accepted the combined position of MCLE Director and Director of Membership, to be henceforth known as Director of Member Compliance.

VSB Budget

The Supreme Court of Virginia and Council approved the FY2012-2013 budget

Additional Resources Dedicated to Discipline Department

Seth Guggenheim has made the switch to Senior Assistant Ethics Counsel, but was still finishing up some cases as Senior Assistant Bar Counsel at year end.  Scott L. Prince was hired to fill a new position as Assistant Bar Counsel and Anastasia Jones will be replacing Mr. Guggenheim.

Enterprise Client Management

After undertaking a high level assessment of its operations and record management needs last fiscal year, this year the bar undertook to study and develop a request for proposal to purchase enterprise content records management software.  The software was purchased from Open Text.  The staff will now proceed to develop an RFP for the implementation phase, evaluate the proposals, and select the vendor by the end of August.  The RFP will specify a September 1 start date for the project.   To keep the project moving, while we are processing the RFP, we also will conduct the records management study and update the necessary policies, procedures, and schedule.    

ALPS

ALPS Corporation is the holding company for both ALPS RRG and Richmond-based Southern Title, a title-insurance company. Southern Title announced on September 15, 2011, that it would no longer be issuing new title policies.  A press release issued by Southern Title indicated that the suspension of operations was necessary as a result of a “substantial recent agent defalcation,” as well as higher than normal claims arising from policies issued by now-cancelled agents in the years between 2005 and 2008.  ALPS Corporation purchased Southern Title in July 2009.  At its meeting on September 28, 2011, the LMI Committee discussed this issue with ALPS representative Chris Newbold, Executive Vice President.  ALPS has assured the VSB that ALPS’s reserves are separate from Southern Title’s reserves and are not at risk as a result of Southern Title’s problems.  Southern Title was put into a receivership by the State Corporation Commission on December 20, 2012, after ALPS Corporation refused to put any further funds into the company.  The LMI Committee will continue to monitor the situation.

In early June 2012, ALPS was notified by A.M. Best that its A- financial strength rating had been confirmed.  This good news was counterbalanced by A.M. Best shifting the company outlook from Stable to Negative.  Chris Newbold, Executive Vice President, explained that this has been a trend with other similarly situated carriers in the mono-line LPL market, such as Minnesota Lawyers Mutual and the Bar Plan, based on the overall trend in the lawyers’ professional liability market and last year’s operating performance.  The Committee will be keeping a close eye on this development and watching the trends that concerned A.M. Best, i.e., loss reserve development, adverse underwriting results and defense costs.

Online Dues Renewal

The VSB has instituted an online dues renewal process, which was effective for the first time with the 2011 dues renewal season.  The new system resulted in the collection of fewer penalties.

Participation by members was much higher than expected for the first year of usage.

FY2011 Audit Report

The audit report for FY2011, completed March 29, 2012, found (1) proper recording and reporting of all transactions in the Commonwealth Accounting and Reporting System and our internal financial system; (2) no matters involving internal control and its operations necessary to bring to management’s attention; and (3) no instances of noncompliance with applicable laws and regulations or other matters that are required to be reported. 

Regulatory Changes

By order of the Supreme Court of Virginia on April 13, 2012, effective immediately, Paragraph 13-6A of Part 6, § IV of the Rules of Court, was amended to require district committee service before a member could be appointed to the Disciplinary Board.

Approved Ethics Opinions

The Standing Committee on Legal Ethics approved the following ethics opinions in FY2011-2012:

  • LEO 1856
  • LEO 1857
  • LEO 1858
  • LEO 1859
  • LEO 1861

Pending Rule Changes and Legislation

Payee Notification

In October 2009, Council voted 39 to 25 to seek legislation requiring insurers that pay third-party liability claims to notify claimants when they disburse settlement proceeds of $5,000 or more to claimants’ attorneys.  The Virginia Trial Lawyers Association (VTLA) also put in similar legislation targeted at a broader group of payouts. Chief Justice Leroy R. Hassell Sr. asked the VSB and the VTLA to withdraw the proposed legislation in February 2010 until the statewide bar groups were consulted. 

The Supreme Court authorized the VSB to consult with the statewide bar groups about their interest in this matter and to convene a Payee Notification Task Force of interested parties to discuss the issues.  The outcome of those discussions will determine whether any proposed legislation will be published for comment and brought before council for a vote before being brought back to the Supreme Court for its consideration.

The Payee Notification Task Force met several times in FY2012 at the request of the Supreme Court of Virginia, and reached resolution on all issues.  At the writing of this report, the payee notification proposal was being published for notice and comment.  It will be presented to council for its consideration at the October 2012 meeting and then presented to the Court for its consideration. The Payee Notification Task Force consisted of the following members:  Jon D. Huddleston, chair; VADA representative Dennis J. Quinn; VBA representative Hugh M. Fain; VTLA representatives Edward A. Allen and Jack L. Harris; VWAA representative Darrell Tillar-Mason; Phillip V. Anderson; Irving M. Blank; Edward L. Chambers; Mary L.C. Daniel; Thomas A. Edmonds; J. Christopher LaGow; Kevin E. Martingayle; Sandra M. Rohrstaff; George W. Shanks; Michael W. Smith; Kimberley Slayton White; and William T. Wilson.

Rule 1A:3 Study Committee

The Supreme Court of Virginia has asked the Virginia State Bar to study what rule changes would be necessary for the VSB to revoke the certificates issued to foreign attorneys who are admitted to practice in the Commonwealth pursuant to Rule 1A:1, the reciprocity rule.  The committee ultimately decided that the rule changes needed to be addressed by the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners and the Supreme Court of Virginia.  The Supreme Court of Virginia is still considering the matter.

Proposed Emergency Legal Services Rule

Pending before the Supreme Court is a proposal for an Emergency Legal Services rule which would set up a system for the provision of emergency legal services in the event of a disaster. The Virginia Supreme Court would first have to declare an emergency to trigger the rule coming into play. Under the proposal, out-of-state lawyers could provide pro bono legal services to Virginia citizens within certain constraints, and displaced out-of-state lawyers could provide legal services in Virginia on a temporary basis if those services were reasonably related to the lawyer's practice in the affected jurisdiction. The proposal was unanimously approved by the council on June 19, 2008, and was submitted to the Court on July 11, 2008.

Sample VSB Meetings and Programs

July 14-15, 2011  |  VSB Disciplinary Conference, Wintergreen

March 5, 2012  |  VSB Bar Leaders Institute, University of Richmond School of Law

April 4, 2012  |  VSB Solo & Small Firm Practitioner Forum, Longwood University, Farmville

April 22-23, 2012  |  VSB Education Conclave, Charlottesville

April 27, 2012  |  VSB Solo & Small Firm Practitioner Forum, Mountain Empire, Community College, Big Stone Gap

May 4, 2012  |  VSB Indigent Defense Training program, Richmond

June 13-17, 2012  |  VSB Annual Meeting, Virginia Beach

 

 

Updated: Aug 07, 2012