Standing Committee on Lawyer Discipline

Kimberley Slayton White, chair

The Standing Committee on Lawyer Discipline oversees the attorney disciplinary process, including the bar’s investigation and prosecution of complaints. Members of COLD are assigned to monitor the progress of investigations and prosecutions in each of the district disciplinary committees through interactions and discussions with VSB counsel and committee chairs. In addition, the oversight subcommittee randomly reviews case files to ensure that VSB counsel handled them in a procedurally correct manner. Further review is done of specific files where complainants or respondents have questioned the handling of a case.

COLD also formulates and presents proposed amendments to Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, which govern the disciplinary process. Proposed amendments are published in the Virginia Lawyer Register and are presented to the Virginia State Bar Council, which decides whether to petition the Supreme Court for adoption of the change.

The committee is made up of eight attorneys, two laypersons, and one member of the VSB Disciplinary Board, who serves ex officio. The committee meets monthly from September to June. For the year beginning July 1, 2009, those serving in a leadership capacity with COLD are Kimberley Slayton White, chair; John Donald Whittington, vice chair; John Tracy Walker IV, chair of the rules subcommittee; and Stephen Haiden Ratliff, chair of the oversight subcommittee.

During fiscal 2008-09, COLD accomplished four significant tasks in addition to the duties described previously:

  • The committee drafted a mission statement and developed a five-year plan setting forth a continuation of those duties set forth above.
  • A subcommittee of COLD was formed to study random audits or reviews of attorney trust accounts. Chaired by Stephen H. Ratliff, the subcommittee studied procedures developed in other states, reviewed a number of earlier prepared reports on the issue, and studied cases of lawyer defalcations in Virginia. While the subcommittee did not recommend the adoption of a random audit or review of VSB-member trust accounts, the subcommittee did make other recommendations to address the issues.
  • After a number of years of work by the rules subcommittee, chaired by Julia S. Savage, the Supreme Court of Virginia approved and adopted the reorganization of Paragraph 13. The procedures now are more clear and easier to access.
  • COLD held its annual Disciplinary Conference July 17 and 18, 2008. John D. Whittington was responsible for organizing the conference. The conference was attended by attorney and lay members of the district committees, the Disciplinary Board, COLD members, and judges who sit on three-judge circuit court panels that hear disciplinary matters.  
Updated: Aug 27, 2009