News and Information
August 24, 2016

17th Circuit Special Election

Ballots for the open 17th Circuit seat on the VSB Council will be e-mailed to eligible voters on Monday, August 29. The election will close on September 9. The vacancy is for an unexpired term beginning immediately, and ending June 30, 2018. Read statements from candidates David A. Oblon and Nathan J. Olson.

Updated: Aug 24, 2016
August 24, 2016

Virginia.freelegalanswers.org is live

Prospective clients may now log on to the site and be screened to determine if they meet the threshold income requirements.

Virginia.freelegalanswers.org, https://virginia.freelegalanswers.org/, is up and running. The site is part of an ABA multi-state initiative to provide online pro bono civil legal assistance to Virginia residents with income levels of 250 percent of the poverty guidelines or less (a household income of just over $29,000 annually for a single adult). Prospective clients may now log on to the site and be screened to determine if they meet the threshold income requirements. If they qualify, the users may post questions about a civil legal issue. Users may post up to three questions in a twelve-month period. Their question will then be placed in a queue for Virginia lawyers according to the nature of the legal issue or type of problem (i.e., "Family/Divorce/Custody" or "Debts & Purchases"). In addition to the question, the user posts relevant facts and may even attach documents and photos. 

Virginia Free Legal Answers LogoVolunteer lawyers in good standing who have signed up for the website will preview questions in the queue and select a question they would like to answer. Additionally, the available question queue will also provide the lawyer with information about the identity of the opposing party, the legal deadline (court date or when the client is requesting a response) and how long the question had been in the queue. If the lawyer needs additional information to answer the question, the attorney may leave the queue open to communicate with the client via the website or, if there is sufficient information, the attorney may post an answer and close the conversation. The interaction is limited to responding to the legal inquiry. When an attorney closes the question, the client receives notification that the question has been answered and is prompted to take a survey requesting feedback about the assistance provided. 

If you are an attorney, please visit the website and register on the Volunteer Attorney Registration page (or complete the registration process if you previously submitted the Attorney Interest Form) to provide pro bono assistance by answering civil legal questions posted by low income Virginians. 

If you know someone who needs legal assistance and is a Virginia resident, please tell them about Virginia.freelegalanswers.org.  They simply need to go to the "Get Started" page on the homepage, complete the User registration, and, if they meet the financial eligibility requirements, they may post up to three civil legal questions in a year.

Download a printable mini poster to inform others.

If you have questions, please contact probonoadmin@vsb.org.

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Updated: Aug 24, 2016
August 16, 2016

Registration Open for Two VLRS Webinars

Please register for two upcoming Virginia Lawyer Referral Service Webinars if you have an interest in this valuable program that helps to support the procurement of legal services. Part 1: Introduction, Mission and Ethical Considerations takes place on September 14, 2016 1:00 PM EDT and Part 2: Criminal Law, Wills, Estates and Trusts occurs on September 28, 2016 1:00 PM EDT.

Please go to the following links to register:

Part 1: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6125082786714717700

This webinar, which has been approved for 1.5 hours MCLE (Ethics), will offer an overview of VLRS and review common ethical issues encountered by VLRS members. 

NOTE: Registrants must register for both parts of the Webinar (Part 2 is scheduled for Wednesday, September 28 at 1:00 pm) and agree to pay the $95 VLRS panel membership fee.


Part 2: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4701287796514026242

Many Virginians need the assistance of legal counsel to provide general advice in defense of minor criminal charges and guidance with disability and estate planning though the Virginia State Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service. This webinar, which has been approved for 1.5 hours MCLE, will provide an overview of substantive criminal and estate planning law issues encountered by VLRS panel members. 

NOTE: This is the second and final part of the VLRS webinar series (Part 1 was held on September 14 and was recorded for future viewing). 


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Brought to you by GoToWebinar®
Webinars Made Easy®

Updated: Aug 22, 2016
August 15, 2016

Virginia Law Foundation Seeks Fellows Nominations

The Virginia Law Foundation is seeking nominations for the 2017 class of fellows. Nominations will be accepted through August 31, 2016.

The VLF, established in 1974, is the non-profit vehicle for Virginia lawyers to improve the administration of justice and promote the rule of law.

To encourage and recognize excellence in the practice of law and public service, the VLF created the Fellows of the Virginia Law Foundation.

Nomination forms are available at http://www.virginialawfoundation.org/fellows-program/fellows-nominations/ or by contacting the Virginia Law Foundation office at (804) 648-0112. For a complete list of current fellows, visit the foundation’s website at www.virginialawfoundation.org/currentfellows.htm.

Updated: Aug 15, 2016
August 15, 2016

Judicial Council Invites Input on Impeachment Rule of Evidence

The Advisory Committee on Rules of Court of the Judicial Council of Virginia invites comment on a possible revision to Evidence Rule 2:607: Impeachment of Witnesses.

The rule currently provides that “[s]ubject to the provisions of Rule 2:403, the credibility of a witness may be impeached by any party other than the one calling the witness, with any proof that is relevant to the witness's credibility.” At an upcoming meeting the committee wishes to consider whether to recommend revision of this rule to allow any party, including the party that has called the witness, to impeach the witness (as is permitted in federal court and a majority of the states). As in the past, calling a witness solely or primarily to impeach would not be allowed. All of the statutory provisions on impeachment, leading questions, use of prior statements and adverse witnesses, as well as the Rules of Evidence implementing those principles, would remain unchanged.

view the proposal (PDF file)

Comments may be submitted by September 15, 2016 to:

Advisory Committee on Rules of Court
c/o Steven DalleMura
Office of the Executive Secretary
Supreme Court of Virginia
100 North Ninth St.
Richmond, VA 23219

OR via e-mail with the subject line "Evidence Rule 2:607" to:
proposedrules@courts.state.va.us

Updated: Aug 15, 2016
August 01, 2016

Virginia State Bar E-News, August 2016

The Standing Committee on Lawyer Discipline is seeking comments on proposed changes to Part 6 § IV ¶ 13-24 regarding reciprocal discipline. The comment deadline is August 6.

The Standing Committee on Lawyer Discipline has also approved a proposal to revise Virginia Code Section 54.1-3935, which provides the procedure for an attorney or the Virginia State Bar to demand that an attorney disciplinary matter proceed before a three-judge circuit court in lieu of a district committee or the disciplinary board of the Virginia State Bar.

The Virginia Access to Justice Commission seeks comments on proposed changes to Part 6 § IV ¶ 18 regarding self-reporting of pro bono services. The comment deadline is August 31.

The Executive Committee seeks comments on proposed amendments to Paragraph 13.1 regarding suspension for failure to complete the professionalism course. The amendments would authorize the Virginia State Bar executive director to grant, for good cause, an extension request from a member who fails to complete the Professionalism Course by the deadline. The comment deadline is September 1.

The Judicial Council of Virginia seeks comments on proposed changes to the Uniform Fee Schedule Guideline for Commissioners of Accounts, and amendments to the Code of Virginia regarding the fee for a Statement in Lieu of Settlement of Account. The comment deadline is August 19.

The Standing Committee on Legal Ethics is seeking public comment on proposed advisory Legal Ethics Opinion 1886Duty of partners and supervisory lawyers in a law firm when another lawyer in the firm suffers from significant impairment. The comment deadline is September 9.

The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board will hear Catherine Ann Lee’s reinstatement petition on September 23.

The 17th Circuit will hold an election for one seat on Council, the VSB's governing body, for an unexpired term ending June 30, 2018. If you are interested in serving on Council and your VSB address of record is in the 17th Circuit, e-mail a nominating petition to the executive director, Karen A. Gould, elections@vsb.org. Petition must be signed by not fewer than ten other members eligible to vote in the circuit, and shall be accompanied by a statement of qualifications not exceeding one hundred and fifty words and a digital photo (headshot). Nominations must be filed in the office of the executive director on or before August 19.

Volunteers are needed to serve on the Virginia State Bar’s boards and committees. The Nominating Committee will refer nominees to the VSB Council for consideration at its October meeting. 

The Special Committee on Access to Legal Services seeks nominations for the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Pro Bono Award. Nominations must be received by August 19.

Save the date: the Special Committee on Access to Legal Services will hold its annual Pro Bono Conference and Celebration on Wednesday, October 26, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Hampton Hotel Convention Center & Spa.

Lawyers can sign up to provide online answers to legal questions posted by low-income Virginians on the VSB’s  new pro bono website, Virginia.FreeLegalAnswers.org, sponsored by the ABA.

The MCLE interim report has been released. Now is the time to check your online record and plan your MCLE compliance. Apply now for any non-approved course that you have attended. The MCLE compliance deadline is October 31.

Save the date for VSB Resolution of Fee Disputes mediation and arbitration training sessions:
Richmond - September 8, 2016
Roanoke -  September 14, 2016
Norfolk - October 20, 2016
Fairfax -  October TBD

Updated: Jul 29, 2016
July 29, 2016

Virginia.freelegalanswers.org

Virginia.freelegalanswers.org is part of an ABA multi-state initiative to provide online pro bono civil legal assistance to Virginia residents with income levels of 200 percent of the poverty guidelines or less (a household income of just over $29,000 annually for a single adult). Prospective clients will log on to the site and be screened to determine if they meet the threshold income requirements. If they qualify, the users may post questions about a civil legal issue. Users may post up to three questions in a twelve-month period. Their question will then be placed in a queue for Virginia lawyers according to the nature of the legal issue or type of problem (i.e., "Family/Divorce/Custody" or "Debts & Purchases"). In addition to the question, the user posts relevant facts and may even attach documents and photos. 

Volunteer lawyers in good standing who have signed up for the website may preview questions in the queue and select a question they would like to answer. Additionally, the available question queue will also provide the lawyer with information about the identity of the opposing party, the legal deadline (court date or when the client is requesting a response) and how long the question had been in the queue. If the lawyer needs additional information to answer the question, the attorney may leave the queue open to communicate with the client via the website or, if there is sufficient information, the attorney may post an answer and close the conversation. The interaction is limited to responding to the legal inquiry. When an attorney closes the question, the client receives notification that the question has been answered and is prompted to take a survey requesting feedback about the assistance provided. 

During this process, the attorney knows the name of the user; however, the attorney’s identity remains anonymous and is known as "the Volunteer Attorney."  Also, volunteer lawyers answering questions on the website are covered by malpractice insurance provided by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) Insurance Program. 

Virginia is one of thirty-five states and a Canadian province launching online pro bono websites in August and September. Six states have previously launched sites, and their sites will be included in this initiative. Tennessee was the first state to provide this service six years ago (www.OnlineTNJustice.org) and, since its launch, over 11,000 questions have been answered by 500 attorneys.

On August 22, the Virginia State Bar will debut Virginia.freelegalanswers.org. In the meantime, lawyers who are interested in the service and seeing a demonstration of how the Free Legal Answers websites will work may review the video and PowerPoint slides at http://www.americanbar.org/groups/probono_public_service/resources/free_legal_answers.html. Virginia lawyers who are interested in participating can now complete the Attorney Interest Form at www.vsb.org/docs/volunteer-form-pb.pdf

Updated: Jul 29, 2016
July 27, 2016

Comments Sought on Proposed Legal Ethics Opinion 1886

The Virginia State Bar’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics is seeking public comment on proposed advisory Legal Ethics Opinion 1886: Duty of partners and supervisory lawyers in a law firm when another lawyer in the firm suffers from significant impairment.

This proposed opinion addresses the ethical duties of partners and supervisory lawyers in a law firm to take remedial measures when they reasonably believe another lawyer in the firm may be suffering from a significant impairment that poses a risk to clients or the general public. The proposed opinion specifically focuses on the obligations of partners and supervisory lawyers to take precautionary measures before a lawyer’s impairment has resulted in serious misconduct or a material risk to clients or the public. In this proposed opinion, the committee concludes that Rule of Professional Conduct 5.1(b) requires a partner or supervising lawyer to take reasonable steps to prevent an impaired lawyer under his direction and control from violating the Rules of Professional Conduct.

Any individual, business, or other entity may file or submit written comments in support of or in opposition to the proposed opinion with Karen A. Gould, Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar, not later than September 9, 2016. Comments may be submitted via e-mail to publiccomment@vsb.org

Updated: Jul 27, 2016
July 25, 2016

VSB Disciplinary Board to Hear Lee Reinstatement Petition

on September 23, 2016

Pursuant to Virginia Supreme Court Rules Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13-25.  Catherine Ann Lee petitioned the Virginia Supreme Court for reinstatement of her license to practice law.  A hearing will be held before the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board on Friday, September 23, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. in the Workers’ Compensation Commission, located at 1000 DMV Drive, Richmond, Virginia 23220.  After hearing evidence and oral argument, the board will make factual findings and recommend to the Court whether the petition should be granted or denied.  The board seeks information about Catherine Ann Lee’s fitness to practice law.  Written comments may be submitted to Barbara Sayers Lanier, Clerk of the Disciplinary System, 1111 East Main Street, Suite 700, Richmond, Virginia 23219-0026 or by email to Clerk@vsb.org by September 16, 2016.  Letters will become a matter of public record.

Ms. Lee was licensed to practice law in Virginia in October 1990.  On August 26, 2005, the Virginia State Bar entered an order suspending Ms. Lee’s license to practice law pursuant to Part 6, § IV, ¶ 13.I.56 (2005) for impairment.  On November 1, 2006, Ms. Lee was convicted by the Henrico County Circuit Court of a felony pursuant to an Alford plea on charges of embezzlement.  Ms. Lee received a prison sentence of twenty years with twenty years suspended, conditioned upon her keeping the peace and complying with all terms of her probation.  On March 23, 2007, the Virginia State Bar entered an Order of Revocation of Ms. Lee’s license to practice law based on her felony conviction.

In her Petition for Reinstatement, Ms. Lee states that she was released from probation on April 29, 2015, after meeting all of the requirements and terms imposed upon her by the Henrico County Circuit Court, which included restitution.  Ms. Lee further states that her civil rights were restored by the governor of Virginia on September 28, 2015.

From 2008 to 2012, Ms. Lee taught paralegal and math courses at Centura College in Chesterfield County, Virginia.  She left to work more hours as a paralegal/law clerk under the supervision of licensed attorneys.  She has worked in that capacity with the Virginia Education Association under Milton K. Brown, Esquire, and Dena Rosenkrantz, Esquire.

Ms. Lee states that she has kept current with the law, has completed at least seventy-eight credit hours of continuing legal education, including eighteen hours in ethics, all of which have been approved by the Virginia State Bar.  She further states that she took the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination on March 29, 2014, and received a scaled score of 104.  The bar’s Clients’ Protection Fund has not paid out any money due to Ms. Lee’s misconduct.  Ms. Lee does not owe the Virginia State Bar any costs or fees associated from any complaints against her.

Copies of the Order of Revocation and Petition for Reinstatement are available by contacting clerk@vsb.org or (804) 775-0539.

Updated: Jul 25, 2016
July 22, 2016

Honorable Lawrence L. Koontz Jr. Receives the 2015 Harry L. Carrico Outstanding Career Service Award

The Judicial Council of Virginia has named Senior Justice Lawrence L. Koontz Jr., of the Supreme Court of Virginia, as the recipient of the 2015 Harry L. Carrico Outstanding Career Service Award. The award was presented to Senior Justice Koontz at the annual meeting of the Judicial Conference of Virginia on May 10, 2016. View press release (PDF)

Updated: Jul 22, 2016
July 15, 2016

Comments Sought on Proposed Changes to the Fees for Commissioners of Accounts

Additional Info

view the proposed changes (PDF)

The Judicial Council of Virginia requests comments on the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Commissioners of Accounts of the Judicial Council of Virginia regarding changes to the existing Uniform Fee Schedule Guideline for Commissioners of Accounts effective July 1, 2008. In addition, the report includes recommendations for amendments to the Code of Virginia regarding the fee for a Statement in Lieu of Settlement of Account.

Comments on the proposed changes should be sent by Friday, August 19, 2016 to:
Karl Hade, Secretary of the Judicial Council
Office of the Executive Secretary
Supreme Court of Virginia
100 North Ninth Street
3rd Floor
Richmond, VA 23219

OR via e-mail with the subject line "Comment on Commissioners of Accounts' Recommendations" to: coacomments@courts.state.va.us

Updated: Jul 15, 2016
July 07, 2016

Comment Sought on Amendments to Rules Regarding Self-Reporting of Pro Bono Service

The proposed amendments, which were adopted unanimously by the Virginia Access to Justice Commission, would make Virginia the eleventh state to adopt annual attorney self-reporting of pro bono hours and pro bono-related financial support. The amendments would not mandate pro bono service and do not require attorneys to change how they track their support of pro bono. Though Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1 currently states that attorneys should devote 2 percent of their professional time to pro bono matters, there is no mechanism to collect and measure the Virginia State Bar’s performance against that goal. The proposed amendments would provide that mechanism. The intent is to promote awareness of and compliance with the existing goal in Rule 6.1, improve the profession’s self-governance, and minimize any calls for mandated pro bono service due to the existing lack of complete and accurate pro bono data.

Comments in support of or in opposition to the proposed amendments should be sent to Karen A. Gould, the Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar, not later than August 31, 2016.  Comments may be submitted via e-mail to publiccomment@vsb.org.

Updated: Jul 19, 2016
July 01, 2016

Virginia State Bar E-News, July 2016

The Standing Committee on Lawyer Discipline is seeking comments on proposed changes to Part 6 § IV, ¶ 13-24 regarding reciprocal discipline. The comment deadline is August 6.

The Committee on Lawyer Discipline has approved a proposal to revise Virginia Code Section 54.1-3935, which provides the procedure for an attorney or the Virginia State Bar to demand that an attorney disciplinary matter proceed before a three-judge circuit court in lieu of a district committee or the disciplinary board of the Virginia State Bar

At its meeting on June 16, 2016, in Virginia Beach, the Virginia State Bar Council approved and sent to the Supreme Court of Virginia for its approval:

The Executive Committee is seeking comments on proposed amendments to Paragraph 13.1 regarding suspension for failure to complete professionalism course. The amendments would authorize the Virginia State Bar executive director to grant, for good cause, an extension request from a member who fails to complete the Professionalism Course by the deadline.

Dues statements were mailed June 16. The annual dues must be received at the Virginia State Bar by July 31, or delinquency fees will be assessed. All active members must pay the Clients' Protection Fund assessment and provide a completed and signed Mandatory Certification Regarding Professional Liability Insurance, also by July 31. Separate fines will be assessed for unpaid dues, unpaid CPF fees, and incomplete liability insurance certifications. You may renew your membership, certify your liability insurance coverage, join VSB sections, and pay your dues online by going to Member Login on the VSB home page.  Corporate Counsel Registrants may also use this feature.

Volunteers are needed to serve on the Virginia State Bar’s boards and committees. The Nominating Committee will refer nominees to the VSB Council for consideration at its October meeting. 

The Special Committee on Access to Legal Services is seeking nominations for the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Pro Bono Award.

Save the date: the Special Committee on Access to Legal Services will hold its annual Pro Bono Conference and Celebration on Wednesday, October 26, 2016, at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Hampton Hotel Convention Center & Spa.

The MCLE interim report will be released this month. Now is the time to check your online record and plan your MCLE compliance. Apply now for any non-approved course that you have attended. The MCLE compliance deadline is October 31, 2016.

Lawyers can sign up for the VSB’s new pro bono website, Virginia.FreeLegalAnswers.org, sponsored by the ABA. Lawyers sign up to provide online answers to legal questions posted by low-income Virginians.

Updated: Jul 02, 2016
June 27, 2016

Nominations Sought for Board and Committee Vacancies

Volunteers are needed to serve the Virginia State Bar’s boards and committees. The Nominating Committee will refer nominees to the VSB Council for consideration at its October meeting.

Vacancies in 2017 are listed below. All appointments or elections will be for the terms specified, beginning on July 1, 2017.

Council Members at Large: 3 lawyer vacancies (of which 1 incumbent is not eligible for reappointment and 2 incumbents are eligible for reappointment to a second term). May serve 2 consecutive 3-year terms.

Disciplinary Board: 5 lawyer vacancies and 2 lay member vacancies (of which 3 lawyer members are not eligible for reappointment and 2 current members are eligible for reappointment to a second term, and 1 lay member is eligible for reappointment). District committee service is required. May serve 2 consecutive 3-year terms.

Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Board: 5 lawyer vacancies (of which 2 members are not eligible for reappointment and 3 current members are eligible for reappointment to a second term). May serve 2 consecutive 3-year terms.

Virginia Law Foundation Board:  2 lawyer vacancies (of which neither is eligible for reelection) and 1 lay member (who is eligible for reelection).  May serve 2 consecutive 3-year terms.  Appointment by VLF Board on recommendation of council.

Virginia CLE COMMITTEE:  6 lawyer vacancies (of which 6 lawyer members are eligible for reelection to 1-year terms).  Appointment by VLF Board on recommendation of council.

Nominations, along with a brief résumé, should be mailed by September 2, 2016, to:

Edward L. Weiner, Chair
VSB Nominating Committee
Virginia State Bar
1111 E. Main Street
Suite 700
Richmond, VA 23219-0026

or e-mailed to nominations@vsb.org.

Updated: Jun 27, 2016
June 23, 2016

VSB Access Committee is seeking nominations for the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Pro Bono Award

The Powell Award was established to honor those attorneys and attorney groups that have made outstanding pro bono contributions. The award will be presented at a ceremony during the Virginia Pro Bono and Legal Aid Conference, Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Hampton Convention Center & Spa.

Nominations should be sent to Virginia State Bar Access to Legal Services Committee, c/o Karl A. Doss, 1111 East Main Street, Suite 700, Richmond, Virginia 23219-0026 (or e-mail nominations and supporting documents to doss@vsb.org ). Nominations must be received by 5:00 pm, Friday, August 19, 2016.

entry information and past recipients

Updated: Jun 23, 2016
June 21, 2016

Comments Sought on Proposed Amendments to Professionalism Course Rule

The amendments authorize the Virginia State Bar executive director to grant, for good cause, an extension request from a member who fails to complete the Professionalism Course by the deadline. Requests for extension often come from lawyers who have scheduled the course for the end of the year and, for unforeseen reasons, are unable to take it.  Currently, the members are suspended until they complete the course, unless they obtain a waiver from the Executive Committee, which must hold an emergency meeting to consider the request. The amendments would grant the executive director the authority to consider requests for extension, subject to the limitations set forth in the rule as outlined.

Comments in support of or in opposition to the proposed amendments should be sent to Virginia State Bar Executive Director Karen A. Gould by September 1, 2016. Comments may be submitted via e-mail to publiccomment@vsb.org.

The Executive Committee unanimously approved the proposed revision to the Professionalism Course Rule, as follows:

13.1 Suspension for Failure to Complete Professionalism Course—

Each person admitted to the Virginia State Bar on or after July 1, 1988, as an active member shall complete the course of study prescribed by the Executive Committee of the Virginia State Bar and approved by the Supreme Court of Virginia on the Rules of Professional Conduct and the lawyer’s broader professional obligations, and any active member who fails to complete the course shall be suspended unless an waiverextension is obtained for good cause shown. Such course of study shall be funded by attendance fees paid by those attending the course.

Any active member licensed after June 30, 1988, and any other member who changes his or her membership to active status shall complete the required course within twelve months of becoming an active member. Failure to comply with this Rule shall subject the active member to the penalties set forth in Paragraph 19 herein.

“Good cause shown” as used herein shall include illness, hospitalization or such other cause as may be determined by the Executive Committee, whose determination shall be final. The Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar is authorized to grant extensions for compliance with this paragraph until the next Executive Committee meeting. Any determination by the Executive Committee or the Executive Director may be reviewed by the Supreme Court on request of the member seeking an waiverextension.

Updated: Jun 21, 2016
June 21, 2016

Highlights of the June 16, 2016, Virginia State Bar Council Meeting

At its meeting on June 16, 2016, in Virginia Beach, the Virginia State Bar Council heard the following significant reports and took the following actions:

Amendment to Rules of Professional Conduct 1.6 and 3.3

By a vote of 52-7, the council approved the proposed amendments to Rules of Professional Conduct 1.6: Confidentiality of Information, and 3.3: Candor Toward the Tribunal. The proposed amendments clarify a lawyer’s obligations when a client discloses an intent to commit perjury well in advance of trial, and when the lawyer can withdraw from the representation before the client’s intended perjury occurs.  The proposed amendments must be approved by the Supreme Court of Virginia before becoming effective.

Legal Ethics Opinion 1884

The council unanimously approved LEO 1884: Conflicts arising from a lawyer-legislator’s employment with a consulting firm owned by a law firm. The proposed opinion addresses a situation where a lawyer who is a member of the Virginia General Assembly joins a consulting firm owned by a law firm. The lawyer inquires whether the lawyers and non-lawyers in the consulting firm would be barred from lobbying the General Assembly. The Standing Committee on Legal Ethics concludes that both lawyers and non-lawyers in the consulting firm, as well as all lawyers in the law firm that own the consulting firm, would be barred from representing clients or otherwise lobbying before the General Assembly. The proposed LEO must be approved by the Supreme Court of Virginia before becoming effective.

Budget

The council approved a $14.9 million budget for FY2016-17.  This is an increase of $277,000 over the 2015-16 operating budget.  The budget includes a 3 percent raise for VSB employees as authorized by the General Assembly, contingent on the state achieving the revenue forecast for FY2016.  Management reported that a savings of over $1million is being projected for FY2015-2016 over what was budgeted this time last year. 

Updated: Jun 21, 2016
June 18, 2016

Doris H. Causey is President-elect of the Virginia State Bar

Causey photo

Doris H. Causey, of Richmond, is the Virginia State Bar’s new president-elect. She will serve in that position for one year and then succeed President Michael W. Robinson for the 2017-18 term.

Causey took office on June 18 during the VSB’s Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.

She is managing attorney of the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society Inc.’s Richmond office. She served as the VSB Council’s 13th District representative from 2009 to 2015. She is a member of the Client Protection Fund Board and of the bar’s Budget and Finance Committee.

Causey also serves on the Old Dominion Bar’s Executive Committee and served as secretary of the Old Dominion Bar and the Hill Tucker Bar Richmond Chapter. She is a Virginia Bar Association Fellow, a member of the Richmond Bar Association, and a past member of the Bench Bar Conference.

She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi, where she received a B.A. in mathematics and another in political science. She has a master of education degree from Tennessee State University. Her law degree is from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University.

Casey’s practice focuses on civil litigation, family law, landlord tenant, foreclosure defense, and poverty law.

She is married to Tracy L. Causey they have three children.

Updated: Jun 13, 2016
June 18, 2016

Michael W. Robinson is President of the Virginia State Bar

Robinson photo

Michael W. Robinson, of Tysons Corner, is the Virginia State Bar’s new president. He heads a state agency that regulates and supports 49,000 Virginia lawyers.

Robinson was sworn in June 17 during the VSB’s Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.

Robinson, a partner with Venable LLC, has been serving as the 19th District representative on the VSB Council and as chair of the Standing Committee on Legal Ethics. He previously served as chair of the Special Committee on Bench-Bar Relations and has been on the faculty of the Professionalism Course.

He also is a member of the Fairfax County Bar Association.

Robinson is a graduate of George Mason University, where he received a B.A. in philosophy. His law degree is also from George Mason University.

His practice focuses on commercial disputes, business torts, and the protection of intellectual property rights.

He is married to Courtney R. Robinson and has five children.

Updated: Jun 13, 2016
June 14, 2016

CLBA Honors Bar Associations

The following bar associations will receive awards from the Conference of Local Bar Associations during the Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting. The awards recognize projects that serve the bench, the bar, and the people of Virginia.

The CLBA makes information on winning projects available to other groups that want to consider similar programs. For information, contact Paulette J. Davidson at Davidson@vsb.org or (804) 775-0521.

 

AWARDS OF MERIT

For excellence in bar projects

 

First-time Awardees:

 

The Arlington County Bar Association

The association developed the Young Lawyers Initiative with the aim of attracting younger members of the bar to join the local bar. In the initiative’s first year, the bar saw forty-two new members join, which is more than double what would usually be expected in a year. The bar formed a Young Lawyer Section and has since sponsored a Young Lawyer Orientation, is planning a Breakfast with the Judges, and holds regular luncheon meetings that include a one-hour CLE credit.

The Prince William County Bar Association Inc.

The bar association, working with the Prince William County Area Agency on Aging, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7589, and the American Legion, sponsored the first Wills for Veterans program in Virginia. The program assists local veterans with end-of-life documents, including simple wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives. The program served sixty-six veterans and spouses.

The Roanoke Bar Association

 The Roanoke Bar began the You and the Law program in 2010. Last year, the bar decided to open the court system to the public in a three-part program. You and the Law: Trial by Jury is the second part of that program, featuring the circuit court. The program is designed to educate the public about the function of the clerk’s office, the jury selection process, how the sheriff’s office provides security, and the function of the grand jury. There was also a mock trial.

The Virginia Beach Bar Association

The Virginia Beach Bar Association’s Legal Laughter Fundraiser Supporting Families of Autistic Children of Tidewater is a stand-up comedy night created to raise money for local charities by poking fun at the legal profession. The event raised $4,000 for Families of Autistic Children of Tidewater. About 150 members of the association participated, which is about 25 percent of the total membership.

 

Sustained Projects:

 

The Alexandria Bar Association

The Jazz4Justice program, which was started by the Fairfax Law Foundation in 2000, was adopted by the Alexandria association to fund music scholarships at Northern Virginia Community College and to assist the Alexandria Bar Foundation with charitable work, including providing college scholarships to City of Alexandria public school students. The annual concert sponsored by Jazz4Justice has raised more than $6,500 a year each of the last three years.

 

CERTIFICATES OF ACHIEVEMENT

 

The Prince William County Bar Association Inc.

The Virginia Access to Justice Commission asked the association to sponsor the first Access to Justice Summit by a local bar association in the state. The goal was to heighten awareness of and support of existing pro bono programs and to identify unmet needs. Following the summit, every one of the association’s six existing pro bono programs received pledges of support.

The Roanoke Bar Association

You and the Law: Your Day in Court was part of the association’s You and the Law program, which was started in 2010. The session looked at courthouse security, provided a tour of the general district court clerk’s office, and offered a discussion of the rule of law. The program also included a view of what happens in a courtroom during a case presentation, and offered information on what to do when a person’s identity is stolen.

Updated: Jun 14, 2016
June 09, 2016

Phishing Attack Targeting Bar Members

It has come to our attention that attorneys in other states are receiving e-mail phishing attacks that appear to come from their state bar or bar association that may, for example, indicate that a complaint has been made or disciplinary action commenced regarding the attorney or the attorney’s firm, or that the attorney is late in paying dues or fees. Although we have not yet heard of this happening in Virginia, please be aware that these potentially malicious phishing attempts are underway so monitor your e-mails carefully.

 

Originally posted June 9, 2016. Reposted as featured news item 6/20/16.

Updated: Jun 21, 2016
June 08, 2016

COLD Approves Proposed Changes to Virginia Code

The Committee on Lawyer Discipline has approved a proposal to revise Virginia Code Section 54.1-3935, which provides the procedure for an attorney or the Virginia State Bar to demand that an attorney disciplinary matter proceed before a three-judge circuit court in lieu of a district committee or the disciplinary board of the Virginia State Bar. The proposal removes the procedure whereby any person may file a bar complaint in circuit court and bypass the Virginia State Bar’s confidential process for investigating bar complaints. The proposal also removes the procedure whereby a court may initiate a bar investigation and issue a rule to show cause against a lawyer. This provision has not been exercised in recent memory. Instead, courts have reported attorney misconduct to the Virginia State Bar in accordance with the Canons of Judicial Conduct. Other revisions largely clarify language.

The proposal is subject to approval by the VSB Council and the Supreme Court of Virginia before forwarding to the Virginia legislature for consideration.

Comments in support of or in opposition to the proposed revisions should be sent to Karen A. Gould, the Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar, not later than August 6, 2016.  Comments may be submitted via e-mail to publiccomment@vsb.org.

view the proposed changes

Updated: Jul 15, 2016
June 07, 2016

Comments Sought on Proposed Changes to Part 6 § IV, ¶ 13-24 Regarding Reciprocal Discipline

The purpose of the amendments is to clarify what qualifies as another jurisdiction for reciprocal discipline purposes, to clarify the disciplinary board’s authority to impose the same, equivalent, or lesser discipline as another jurisdiction, to allow for leniency as appropriate, and to provide the Disciplinary Board with discretion in enforcing the default provision.

Comments in support of or in opposition to the proposed amendments should be sent to Karen A. Gould, the Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar, not later than August 6, 2016. Comments may be submitted via e-mail to publiccomment@vsb.org.

view the proposed changes

Updated: Jun 07, 2016
June 02, 2016

Less Than Two Weeks Left for Online Annual Meeting Registration

Annual Meeting LogoPre-registration for the 2016 Annual Meeting is available online now and will be accepted until Monday, June 13 at 5:00 p.m. After that, registration will be on-site in Virginia Beach.

Michael W. Robinson of Fairfax will be sworn in as the 78th VSB president on Friday, June 17.

Lawyers, Learning and Lots More!

There will be seminars, sporting events, dancing, hours of CLE credit and hundreds of lawyers and judges from around the commonwealth. We hope to see you there. It's not against the law to have fun!

Please download the free Annual Meeting app to have everything there is to know about the Annual Meeting at your fingertips.

#VSBAnnualMeeting

Updated: Jun 02, 2016
June 01, 2016

Virginia State Bar E-News, June 2016

Check your mail – Dues statements will be mailed June 16. Annual dues must be received at the Virginia State Bar by July 31, or delinquency fees will be assessed. Active members must pay the Clients' Protection Fund assessment and provide a completed and signed Mandatory Certification Regarding Professional Liability Insurance, also by July 31. Separate fines will be assessed for unpaid dues, unpaid CPF fees, and incomplete liability insurance certifications. Beginning June 17, you may renew your membership, certify your liability insurance coverage, join VSB sections, and pay your dues online by going to Member Login on the VSB home page.  Corporate counsel registrants may also use this feature.

The Ethics Committee has approved Legal Ethics Opinion 1884, which will be submitted to the VSB Council for consideration at the June 16 meeting in Virginia Beach. The LEO concerns conflicts arising from a lawyer-legislator’s employment with a consulting firm owned by a law firm.

The Ethics Committee has approved proposed changes to Rules of Professional Conduct 1.6 and 3.3, which will also be submitted to VSB Council for consideration at the June 16 meeting.  The proposed amendments clarify the scope of the lawyer’s duty to reveal and remedy perjury by the client.

Virginia State Bar President Edward L. Weiner has appointed a committee to seek suggestions for increasing member participation in electing the Bar president-elect.

Online pre-registration for the 78th Annual Meeting will be accepted until 5 p.m. Monday, June 13, or register on-site in Virginia Beach. Michael W. Robinson will be sworn in as the 78th VSB president on Friday, June 17.

Congratulations to the newly elected, reelected, and Court-appointed members of the Virginia State Bar Council.

VSB awards:

Registration is open for the Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys 2016 Annual Meeting on June 13 in Charlottesville.

Lawyers can sign up for the VSB’s new pro bono website, Virginia.FreeLegalAnswers.org, sponsored by the ABA. Lawyers sign up to provide online answers to legal questions posted by low-income Virginians.

Updated: Jun 02, 2016
May 27, 2016

South Hampton Roads Receives 2016 Bar Association of the Year Award

The Virginia State Bar has named the South Hampton Roads Bar Association (SHRBA) the recipient of the Bar Association of the Year Award.

The SHRBA was nominated by Jamilah LeCruise of the Law Office of J.D. LeCruise PLLC, who wrote: “Our bar may be small in numbers, but we work very hard to enrich the lives of both our bar members and those living in the greater community in which we practice. Our members run the spectrum from young lawyers daring at-risk youth to reach beyond themselves, to trail blazers of the civil rights era who dared to integrate the courtrooms of Virginia and prevailed.”

SHRBA officers include President Leonard Myers II of Fortress Proprietas PC, President-elect Tameeka Williams of the Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia, Secretary Kendra Johnson of The Cooper Law Firm, and Treasurer William Mason Jr. of the Law Office of Trevor J. Robinson.

Two years ago, SHRBA began a reinvention that included creating five bar sections intended to build comradery and increase participation. SHRBA is particularly proud of its newly-formed Judicial Section, which has inspired a judicial-led Continuing Legal Education program that allows the bench and the bar to directly interact for the benefit of both groups.

SHRBA offered nine CLE hours through its monthly membership meetings as well as a CLE program hosted at Regent University School of Law and supported by the Regent Black Law Students Association members.

In the community, SHRBA members donated hundreds of hours of pro bono time to every city in South Hampton Roads, including a “No Bills Night” hosted by the VSB Young Lawyers Conference and the Urban League of Hampton. SHRBA also hosted events for the young and the elderly including an extensive outreach of the “So You’re 18” program educating young people about the legal implications of reaching the age of majority, and a Senior Law Day staffed by elder-care law firms to inform the elderly about their legal rights.

SHRBA also donated time to numerous community groups including the Boys & Girls Clubs, Tidewater Legal Aid, Lawyers Helping Lawyers, the YMCA, the YWCA, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, and the Saint Mary’s Home for Disabled Children.

The award, sponsored by the VSB Conference of Local Bar Associations, recognizes lasting and exemplary contributions to both the legal community and the community at large in Virginia. The award also recognizes the dedication of local and statewide bar associations and emphasizes the importance of close cooperation between the Virginia State Bar and bar leaders.

Updated: May 27, 2016
May 26, 2016

Mary T. Morgan Wins Local Bar Leader of the Year Award

The Virginia State Bar Conference of Local Bar Associations has bestowed the 2016 Local Bar Leader of the Year Award to Mary T. Morgan, a partner in Golightly Mulligan & Morgan PLC in Hampton Roads.

Morgan is the immediate past president of the Norfolk & Portsmouth Bar Association (NPBA) and has served in leadership roles in a number of other bar organizations including the James Kent Inn of Court, the Virginia Women Attorneys Association, the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys, the Federal Bar Association, and the Portsmouth Bar Association.

In nominating Morgan, Judge David W. Lanetti wrote that, “Although this nomination is for a bar leader award, true bar leaders take their legal training out into the community.”  Lannetti noted that Morgan volunteers throughout her community in schools, churches, and the Edmarc Hospice for Children, where Morgan is chair of the board of directors.

T. Wayne Williams of Williams DeLoatche PC in Chesapeake, who is a past president of the NPBA, wrote that, “Mary handled almost all leadership roles in our organization and has done so with full commitment and excellence whether it be chairing the Bench Bar Committee, assisting with CLE programs, assisting with the Mock Trial program I coordinate for the Norfolk Public Schools as a teacher and judge, or chairing committees for the NPBA recommendation for judicial nominees.”

Morgan is a graduate of the University of Richmond School of Law and her practice focuses in the areas of professional liability defense, bar complaint defense, and general civil litigation.

The Virginia State Bar Conference of Local Bar Associations’ recognition of a Local Bar Leader of the Year identifies past and presently active leaders of local bar associations who have continued to offer important service to the bench, bar, and public. The award is a continuing monument to the dedication of local bar leaders. It also emphasizes the importance of close cooperation between the Virginia State Bar and local bar leaders.

The Conference of Local Bar Associations will present the Local Bar Leader of the Year Award during its annual meeting on Friday, June 17, 2016, in Virginia Beach during the VSB Annual Meeting.

Updated: Jun 03, 2016
May 24, 2016

Claire Dozier of McLean Wins Annual Law in Society Award

Eight Virginia high school students have been chosen from almost 200 entries as winners of the Virginia State Bar 2016 Law in Society essay contest. The winners are: first place, Claire Dozier of Mclean High School in McLean; second place, Ankush Joshi of Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria; and third place, Bryan Boag of Clarke County High School in Berryville.

The five honorable mentions went to Ian Anspaugh of Chantilly High School in Chantilly; Kaylea Armstrong of Monacan High School in Chesterfield County; Mary Black of Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach; John McHale of West Springfield High School in Springfield; and Jacob Thurmond of Veritas School in Richmond.

Sponsored by the Special Committee on Communications and the Litigation Section of the bar, the contest, now in its twenty-third year, awards almost $7,000 in prize money to students whose essays exemplify the best analytical reasoning and concise writing on pre-determined topics of trending legal significance.

This year’s hypothetical question asked students to explore the issue of student privacy in a school vs. out-of-school setting as it pertains to social media, cell phones, and text messages in an essay of 750-1000 words. The essays were judged by a panel of lawyers and staff from the Virginia State Bar.

First place winner Claire Dozier will travel with her family to the VSB Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach to receive her award on June 17.

Updated: May 25, 2016
May 23, 2016

Giovanni Di Maggio is Recipient of YLC Young Lawyer of the Year Award

The Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference has named Giovanni Di Maggio the recipient of the 2016 R. Edwin Burnette, Jr. Young Lawyer of the Year Award.

The award recognizes a young lawyer who demonstrates dedicated service to the conference, the legal profession, and the community. It is named in honor of Lynchburg Judge R. Edwin Burnette Jr., past president of the Virginia State Bar (1993-94) and the Young Lawyers Conference (19685-86). The award will be presented on June 17, 2016, at the Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.

Di Maggio, who graduated from Colgate University in 2008 and Northeastern University School of Law in 2012, co-chairs the Immigrant Outreach Committee.  He has significantly contributed to the growth and reach of the committee’s activities over the last three years, earning local and national recognition for the Young Lawyers Conference in the process. Since 2013, he has increased the effectiveness of the committee’s continuing legal education seminars on the Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions by recruiting local and national leaders in the immigration community to serve as panelists and to develop practical course materials. He also has promoted the growth of the committee’s Foreign Language Attorney Database, which is designed to assist the public in finding Virginia-licensed attorneys who can speak their language and provide the most effective representation experience. 

In 2015, he launched the committee’s annual Pro Bono CLE Series, a program that received special recognition from the American Bar Association and aims to narrow the justice gap in Virginia by supporting and increasing immigration pro bono work among Virginia attorneys. Additionally, he and his co-chair launched a Naturalization Clinic program, which connects Virginia attorneys to naturalization clinics hosted by a Virginia-based, non-profit immigrant services provider. In May 2016, this program received a coveted ABA Young Lawyers Division sub-grant award at the YLD Spring Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.

Di Maggio’s programs are so well-received that he has lectured at the YLC’s annual Leadership Conference providing other young lawyers tips on how to run successful programs. In nominating Di Maggio, YLC President Nathan Olson, President-elect Dean Lhospital, and board member Chris Fortier wrote that: “The YLC has emerged as a leader in Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic states in educating immigration attorneys on the basics of immigration law [and] [Di Maggio] has been a critical part of growing the YLC into this role. He has educated many attorneys in the realm of immigration law and his programs have inspired others to go into the field of immigration. . . . [Di Maggio’s] dedication to educating advocates of immigrants is unparalleled in the YLC. The impact of his work reaches wide and his committee has produced groundbreaking work for the YLC.”

Updated: May 23, 2016
May 19, 2016

Venable’s Michael Robinson to be sworn in as 78th VSB President

Michael W. Robinson of Venable LLP will be sworn in as the 78th VSB president during the VSB Annual Meeting on Friday, June 17 in Virginia Beach.

There will be a President’s Reception at 6:00 p.m. at the Hilton Oceanfront in Virginia Beach and a ticketed banquet at 7:00 p.m. to follow with music by the Rare Mixx band. 

Registration information may be found here.  To get the most out of your Annual Meeting, don’t forget to download the free Annual Meeting app for your iPhone or Android device to have all the information about hotels, speakers, awards, athletic events and CLEs at your fingertips.

Updated: May 19, 2016
May 19, 2016

Karen A. Gould is Recipient of Murray Janus Professionalism Award

Virginia State Bar Executive Director Karen A. Gould has been named recipient of the 2016 Murray Janus Professionalism Award by the John Marshall Inn of Court.

The John Marshall Inn of Court created the Murray Janus Award in 2014 to honor members who exemplify the values at the core of the Inn's mission, including professionalism, mentoring, and perseverance. The award is named for the late Murray Janus, a founding member of the Inn who passed away in 2013. The two previous honorees were Thomas W. Williamson Jr., of Williamson Law, and the Honorable Stephen R. McCullough, of the Supreme Court of Virginia.

The American Inns of Court, of which the John Marshall Inn of Court is a local chapter, is a non-partisan association of lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals from all levels and backgrounds who share a passion for professional excellence. The members meet regularly to build and strengthen professional relationships; discuss fundamental concerns about professionalism and pressing legal issues of the day; share experiences and advice; exhort the utmost passion and dedication for the law; provide mentoring opportunities; and advance the highest levels of integrity, ethics, and civility.

Lisa Sharp, president of the John Marshall Inn of Court, wrote that Gould was selected for the award “because throughout her career at the practicing bar, and in her efforts as executive director of the Virginia State Bar, she has displayed a dedication to professionalism and the improvement of the practice of law.  She has also served as a mentor to young attorneys at the bar, giving generously of her time to pass on the importance of civility and excellent work to individual lawyers who had the privilege of working with her.”

The Honorable Wesley G. Russell Jr., of the Court of Appeals of Virginia,  noted that Gould had a long career as a professional liability defense lawyer before becoming executive director of the Virginia State Bar. During those years, “she served as a mentor to many, including me, and still found time to volunteer her time to improve the profession by volunteering to serve on disciplinary panels for the Bar.” She served on Bar Council, the VSB’s governing body and was elected president for 2006-07. She became executive director the Bar in 2008. She is also a past president of the John Marshall Inn of Court.

“I have had the opportunity to view her from many vantage points,” Russell said. “I was her associate and mentee when I started practicing law.  As my career progressed, she became a peer and colleague.  We were partners in a two-person firm and in larger settings as well.  Because of my service in the Office of the Attorney General, I also got to see Karen, as head of the Bar, as a client.  In all of these interactions, she displayed a dedication to professionalism and the improvement of the practice of law. In short, I can think of no more qualified candidate for the Inn's professionalism award.”

The award was presented at the John Marshall Inn of Court annual banquet at the Valentine Museum on May 16, 2016.

Updated: May 19, 2016
May 18, 2016

The Honorable Gerald Bruce Lee Receives Diversity Conference Achievement Award

The Honorable Gerald Bruce Lee of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is the recipient of the 2016 Virginia State Bar Diversity Conference’s Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. Achievement Award. Lee is being honored for fostering, encouraging, and facilitating diversity and inclusion in the bar, the judiciary, and the legal profession. 

Lee lives by his motto, “To whom much is given, of him much is required,” though he began his life in the public housing projects of Southeast Washington, DC, where his first job was as a street sweeper. After receiving a scholarship to attend the American University, from where he graduated in 1973, Lee went on to receive a law degree from American University’s Washington College of Law in 1976.

Lee worked as a successful civil and criminal lawyer for fifteen years before beginning his judicial career when he was elected to the 19th Judicial Circuit, Fairfax, in 1992. He was appointed to the Eastern District in 1998, after being nominated by President Clinton, with bipartisan support and the highest rating of each of the twelve bar associations that evaluated him.

Throughout his career, Lee has sought to give back to the legal community. Upon graduating law school, he co-founded a program that helped minority attorneys advance their careers, and today he works with the Just the Beginning Foundation to create the Share the Wealth program that places hundreds of under-represented minorities in federal clerkships. Thus far, four of his participants have been elevated to the bench. Additionally, Lee launched a Just the Beginning program that has helped more than 300 diverse law students find summer employment in judicial chambers nationwide. Lee also volunteers as a counselor and speaker at Kamp Kappa, a program to help educate and inform boys ranging in age from 10 to 16 about the justice system, and to help create interest in legal careers.

Because of his devoted years of service as a volunteer, an educator, and a role model, Lee has received numerous awards including The Lodestar Award for mentoring from American University, the Distinguished Service Award from the Virginia Commission on Women and Minorities in the Legal Profession, the Fairfax County Human Rights Commission Human Award, the Asian American Bar Association Award, the Medgar Evers Award from the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, the Ollie May Cooper Award from the Washington Bar Association, and the Oliver Hill/Samuel E. Tucker Lifetime Achievement Award from the Old Dominion Bar Association.

The Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. Achievement Award will be presented June 17 during the Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.

Updated: May 25, 2016
May 17, 2016

Judge Denis F. Soden Is Recipient of Tradition of Excellence Award

The Honorable Denis F. Soden, judge of the Henrico Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Tradition of Excellence Award by the Virginia State Bar’s General Practice Section.

The award recognizes a lawyer who embodies the highest tradition of personal and professional excellence and who has benefitted the community and enhanced the esteem of general practice attorneys in Virginia. It will be presented on June 18 during the VSB annual meeting at Virginia Beach.

Soden is a graduate of Hamden-Sydney College and the University of Virginia School of Law. He became a member of the Virginia State Bar in 1971, first as a lawyer for twenty-eight years and as a judge since 2000.

Matthew J. Zwerdling, of Zwerdling, Oppleman & Adams in Richmond, has practiced in Soden’s court for sixteen years. In nominating Soden, Zwerdling wrote: “Some of his standout characteristics and personality traits are his even temper, his quick sense of humor and wit, and his professional courtesy to all lawyers and the parties that appear before him in court. He is extremely even-handed in both his decisions and his temperament.  ...Judge Soden has always remained collegial and cordial to everyone who appears before him.”

Soden is a member of the Richmond, Chesterfield, and Henrico bar associations, the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, the Metro Richmond Family Law Association, the Virginia District Court Judges Association, the Virginia Council of J&DR District Court Judges, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the Committee on Judicial Independence. He served as chief judge of the Henrico Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court in 2002-04. He has been a lecturer at the First Day in Practice Seminar since 2002 and a member of the Richmond Bench Bar Conference since 2000. He has been a lecturer and judicial faculty member of the VSB Professionalism Course.

Soden received his B.A. degree in history and political science from Hampden-Sydney College in 1968. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1971. 

Updated: May 17, 2016
May 11, 2016

Registration Open for Pro Bono Webinar

Please register for Making the Case for Pro Bono: The Justice Gap, Rule 6.1, and Virginia's New Online Pro Bono Website on May 24, 2016 1:00 PM EDT at:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1213912887111718147

Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility says that every lawyer regardless of professional prominence or workload should provide pro bono legal assistance. Unfortunately, Virginia lawyers are falling well short of this aspirational goal. Moreover, studies consistently show that 80% of the legal needs of the poor both nationally and in Virginia are not being met.

During this webinar, which is co-sponsored by the Virginia State Bar Access to Legal Services Committee and the Old Dominion Bar Association, attendees will receive information about the justice gap in Virginia, what the ethical rules have to say about pro bono, why pro bono makes good sense professionally, and where to find pro bono opportunities throughout Virginia - including the Virginia.freelegalanswers.org website starting this Fall.

This webinar has been approved for 1.5 hours of MCLE ethics credit. There is no registration fee to attend but registrants will be asked to certify that they will register for the online pro bono website, accept a pro bono referral from a legal services organization, or make a financial donation to a legal aid office.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Brought to you by GoToWebinar®
Webinars Made Easy®

Updated: May 10, 2016
May 10, 2016

Register for the Annual Meeting by May 13 and Save

Registration is open for the 78th Annual Meeting, June 16-19, in Virginia Beach. If you register by May 13, you will save $20. Registration fees include all VSB-sponsored CLE programs on Friday, June 17, and Saturday, June 18. See the Virginia CLE website for a separate registration for Recent Developments in the Law on Thursday, June 16.

Be sure to download the Annual Meeting Mobile App for details on schedules, hotels, programs, speakers, sponsors, maps, and more.

Updated: May 10, 2016
May 10, 2016

Suggestions Sought for Improving Rules for Election of VSB President

Correction to an earlier post about this committee.

A committee appointed by Virginia State Bar President Edward L. Weiner is seeking suggestions for increasing member participation in electing the Bar president-elect. The committee has been studying numerous issues in connection with the election process.

If you have any suggestions, criticisms, or questions about the election process or how it could be improved, please send a message to: admin@wehneryork.com. The committee plans to complete its work before the Annual Meeting, which is June 16-19.

 

Originally posted: Apr 12, 2016

Updated: May 10, 2016
May 04, 2016

Council Members Announced

The following persons have been newly elected, reelected, or Court-appointed to three-year terms on the Virginia State Bar Council. The terms begin July 1, 2016.

Newly elected:

Ronnie H. West, Emporia, 6th Circuit

Palma E. Pustilnik, Charlottesville, 16th Circuit

Adam D. Elfenbein, Arlington, 17th Circuit

Gregory T. Hunter, Arlington, 17th Circuit

David J. Gogal, Fairfax, 19th Circuit

Douglas R. Kay, Fairfax, 19th Circuit

K. Brett Marston, Roanoke, 23rd Circuit

Nancy M. Reed, Harrisonburg, 26th Circuit

R. Cord Hall, Christiansburg, 27th Circuit

Maryse C. Allen, Prince William, 31st Circuit

Reelected:

Daniel M. Schieble, Virginia Beach, 2nd Circuit

Nicholas D. Renninger, Portsmouth, 3rd Circuit

Ann B. Brogan, Norfolk, 4th Circuit

C. Phillips Ferguson, Suffolk, 5th Circuit

Christy E. Kiely, Richmond, 13th Circuit

John H. Crouch, Arlington, 17th Circuit

Christine H. Mougin-Boal, Leesburg, 20th Circuit

Lee H. Turpin, Chatham, 22nd Circuit

David B. Neumeyer, Lynchburg, 24th Circuit

Joseph M. Bowen, Tazewell, 29th Circuit

Newly appointed council member at-large:

Eva N. Juncker, Falls Church

Reappointed council members at-large:

Nancy C. Dickenson, Abingdon

Beverly P. Leatherbury, Eastville

Updated: May 04, 2016
May 03, 2016

Virginia State Bar E-News, May 2016

Effective May 1, 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia amended Part 6, § IV, ¶ 10 of the Rules for Integration of the Virginia State Bar:
Promulgation of Legal Ethics, Unauthorized Practice of Law Opinions, and Rules of Court; Informal Staff Opinions of Ethics Counsel; and Complaints of Unauthorized Practice of Law.

The Ethics Committee has approved proposed changes to Rules of Professional Conduct 1.6 and 3.3, which will be submitted to the council for consideration at its meeting on June 16 in Virginia Beach. The proposed amendments clarify the scope of the lawyer’s duty to reveal and remedy perjury by the client.

Virginia State Bar President Edward L. Weiner has appointed a committee to seek suggestions for improving the rules and procedures for electing a president.

Online registration is open for the 78th Annual Meeting, June 16-19, featuring Showcase CLE Programs and Special Events.

Registration is open for the pro bono webinar, Making the Case for Pro Bono: The Justice Gap, Rule 6.1, and Virginia's New Online Pro Bono Website on May 24.
 
VSB awards:

  • Kaylee R. Gum, a third-year student at the William & Mary Law School, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Oliver White Hill Pro Bono Award by the Special Committee on Access to Legal Services.
  • Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg has been named the 2016 recipient of the Virginia Legal Aid Award by the Special Committee on Access to Legal Services.

Coming in August: Watch for the VSB’s new VirginiaFreeLegalAnswers pro bono website, sponsored by the ABA. Lawyers sign up to provide online answers to legal questions posted by low-income Virginians.

Updated: May 03, 2016
April 28, 2016

Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg Named VSB Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year

Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, legal director of the Legal Aid Justice Center's Immigrant Advocacy Center, has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Virginia Legal Aid Award by the Virginia State Bar’s Access to Legal Services Committee. Sandoval-Moshenberg specializes in consumer, housing, and employment litigation in federal and state court.

Sandoval-Moshenberg was nominated by Mary Bauer of the Legal Aid Justice Center and seconded by Christine Lockhart Poarch of Poarch Law. Poarch wrote of Sandoval-Moshenberg, “We often use the word leader to denote individuals in positions of formal authority.  But Simon is a leader in the truest sense—someone with the skills, commitment, desire and capacity to change hearts, minds and values within the context of immigration advocacy.”

During his tenure at the Legal Aid Justice Center, Sandoval-Moshenberg created the Virginia Special Immigrant Juvenile Project (SIJS) that worked to facilitate access to justice for immigrant children in the Commonwealth. “Simon crafted a program that not only meets a critical legal need within Legal Aid Justice Center’s bailiwick, but one that can be replicated in other service areas, in other states, and within other organizations, even those that work with populations other than immigrants,” Poarch wrote.

Other examples of Sandoval-Moshenberg’s commitment to a wide variety of legal aid issues include his development of the “Five Complexes campaign” for landlord-tenant rights, a cleaner’s campaign in employment law, a “zombie debt campaign” to assist with consumer rights, and a legal resistance campaign to the “kiddie rocket docket” that advocates against excessively expeditious proceedings against unrepresented children.

Sandoval-Moshenberg also implemented a litigation and media strategy to assist students who came to the United States as young people to receive in-state tuition that was so successful it was adopted by attorney general Mark Herring without having to be litigated in court, granting these students in-state tuition eligibility.

In nominating Sandoval-Moshenberg, Bauer wrote, “There are a lot of great tenants' rights lawyers, a lot of great consumer protection attorneys, and a lot of great civil rights attorneys in Virginia. But there is only one attorney who is genuinely great at all of these fields.” She continued, “Other non-profit attorneys in Virginia and the District of Columbia frequently look to Simon as an expert and mentor in immigration law, employment law, consumer law, and litigation and trial practice in general.”

Sandoval-Moshenberg is a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Law School, where he was awarded the Munson prize for excellence in clinical practice. Prior to law school, he spent two years in El Salvador and Honduras studying labor practices and human rights issues and helped to create an organization for rural women who labor in maquilas, or export factories.

In his hometown of Alexandria, he organized a community campaign that helped win passage of the first living wage ordinance in Virginia.

The Legal Aid Award recognizes lawyers employed by legal aid societies licensed by the VSB. Recipients are chosen for their advocacy, quality of service, and impact beyond their service area. It will be presented June 17 at the Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.

Updated: Apr 28, 2016
April 27, 2016

William & Mary Student Receives Pro Bono Award

Lieutenant Kaylee R. Gum, a third-year student at William & Mary Law School, is the recipient of the Virginia State Bar’s 2016 Oliver White Hill Law Student Pro Bono Award.

While a student at W&M, Gum has devoted almost 1,500 hours of pro bono service and related public and community service. She has provided free legal assistance to military veterans and active duty personnel in Virginia and to clients in Iraq, where she served during the summer of 2014 following her first year in law school. In his letter recommending her for the award, Robert E. Kaplan, associate dean and professor of practice at W&M noted that Gum also has raised money for the Wounded Warrior Project.

In describing Gum’s public service in Iraq, Kaplan wrote:  “Lt. Gum’s service is impressive in its own right. But it is particularly noteworthy given the conditions under which she served; she worked under literally life-threatening circumstances.”

The award, named for a late Virginia civil rights litigator, recognizes a law student’s commitment to uncompensated or minimally compensated pro bono work and other public service.  

While a student, Gum has worked with the Lewis B. Puller, Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic; the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps; the Military and Veterans Law Society; the United States Agency for International Development’s Iraq Access to Justice Project; the Jordan Visions Center in Amman, Jordan; and her church’s charitable outreach.

Professor Patricia E. Roberts, director of the Lewis B. Puller Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic, wrote that she was “consistently impressed with the skill, determination and compassion with which (Gum) approached her veteran and service member cases. She is one of the most outstanding students I have taught in my fifteen years of teaching, and her excellence in the classroom is just one of her many outstanding qualities.”

Gum is ranked thirteenth in her class of 228 at W&M. She was named one The National Jurist magazine’s Law Students of the Year in 2016. Gum was also a law journal member and a moot court team officer. She won the W&M internal moot court tournament, and her student note was selected for publication. Gum received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma, where she had a double major in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies. After graduation she will serve as an Air Force Judge Advocate.  

The Hill award will be presented by the VSB Special Committee on Access to Legal Services during the VSB Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach on June 17. 

Updated: Apr 27, 2016
April 12, 2016

Registration Now Open for the VSB 2016 Annual Meeting

The Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting will be held in Virginia Beach June 16-19, 2016. Register now at a discounted fee of $175 until May 13. This fee covers all VSB-sponsored CLE programs on Friday, June 17, and Saturday, June 18. See the Virginia CLE website for separate registration for Recent Developments in the Law on Thursday, June 16.

Online registration is quick and easy. After May 13, 2016, the registration fee increases to $195.

First Time attendees pay a special introduction rate of only $135.

Be sure to download the Annual Meeting Mobile App for details on schedules, hotels, programs, speakers, sponsors, maps, and more.

Updated: Apr 27, 2016
April 06, 2016

Voting for VSB Council Elections Will Be Online

This year the voting for the Virginia State Bar Council elections for circuits 16, 17, 19, 23, and 31 will be conducted online beginning April 11. Please follow the links located beneath the preceding circuit numbers to learn more about the candidates.

On or about April 11, 2016, any member in the specified circuits who was Active In Good Standing as of March 15, 2016, should receive an e-mail from “Virginia State Bar Election Coordinator” with a link for voting in the Virginia State Bar Council Election. The subject line will be “Virginia State Bar Council Login Information.”  To ensure e-mail with voting information arrives safely in your inbox, please add the following e-mail address as a safe sender: noreply@directvote.net. These settings can be made in your e-mail account SPAM/Junk filters or by contacting your IT department. This process is often referred to as “whitelisting.”

Voting is open until April 29 at 11:59 p.m. The process takes only a few seconds if you have already made up your mind, and links are present on the online ballot to learn more about each candidate should you choose to do so. Please remember to vote.

If you have not received your login information by Tuesday, April 12, 2016, please go to https://www.directvote.net/VSBcir/sendID.aspx to have your voting instructions resent. You can also contact support@directvote.net or call 952-974-2339. If you have any other problems, please contact the Virginia State Bar at 804-775-0551 or elections@vsb.org.

Your voting instructions can only be sent to your e-mail of record on file with the Virginia State Bar.

Updated: Apr 13, 2016
March 31, 2016

Virginia State Bar E-News, April 2016

The Virginia State Bar’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics is seeking public comment on proposed advisory Legal Ethics Opinion 1884: Conflicts arising from a lawyer-legislator’s employment with a consulting firm owned by a law firm.

The Ethics Committee has approved proposed changes to Rules of Professional Conduct 1.6 and 3.3, which will be submitted to the council for consideration at its meeting on June 16 in Virginia Beach. The proposed amendments clarify the scope of the lawyer’s duty to reveal and remedy perjury by the client.

Space is still available at the webcast locations for the 12th Annual Indigent Criminal Defense Seminar Advanced Skills for the Experienced Practitioner.  Court appointed council and public defenders may register for the May 5 webcasts in Weyers Cave and Wytheville. 

Nominate your deserving colleagues for the following awards:

The Conference of Local Bar Associations Awards of MeritLocal Bar Leader of the Year Award, and Bar Association of the Year Award. The nomination deadline is April 29, 2016.
Please see the VSB Awards and Contests page for a list of all bar sponsored awards and deadlines.

Registration is open for the April 25 VSB TECHSHOW at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. 

The 46th Annual Criminal Law Seminar, sponsored by the VSB Criminal Law Section and Virginia CLE, has video replays scheduled for April 26 in several locations.

Registration is now open for the April 28 webinar Driving While Poor: Breaking the Cycle of Criminal Justice Debt and the Restoration of Ex-offender Driving.

Online registration will be available soon for the 78th Annual Meeting, June 16-19, 2016, in Virginia Beach.

VSB awards:

Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons has been named the 2016 recipient of the William R. Rakes Leadership in Education Award by the VSB’s Section on the Education of Lawyers in Virginia.
Michael N. Herring has been named the 2016 recipient of the Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award by the VSB Criminal Law Section. 
Carl J. Witmeyer II has been named the 2016 recipient of the Betty A. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award by the VSB’s Family Law Section.

Coming in August: Watch for the VSB’s new VirginiaFreeLegalAnswers pro bono website, sponsored by the ABA. Lawyers sign up to provide online answers to legal questions posted by low-income Virginians.

Updated: Mar 31, 2016
March 22, 2016

Registration Open for April Pro Bono Webinar

Driving While Poor: Breaking the Cycle of Criminal Justice Debt and the Restoration of Ex-offender Driving Privileges

April 28, 2016, 1:00 PM EDT

Registration is now open for Driving While Poor: Breaking the Cycle of Criminal Justice Debt and the Restoration of Ex-offender Driving Privileges. Please register for this webinar here.

"Criminal justice debt” refers to the accumulation of fees, fines and costs, sometimes across more than one jurisdiction, that a defendant acquires while being processed through the justice system. After serving their prison and jail sentences, ex-offenders find that this debt remains and, in some instances, has even increased. Furthermore, their drivers licenses have been suspended as a means of collecting against this debt and, consequently, they are often unable to find and keep employment because they cannot legally drive to work. These ex-offenders need the assistance of volunteer lawyers to help them set-up plans to restore their driver's licenses and navigate them through the legal process.

This webinar is offered to pro bono attorneys who will be assisting recently released ex-offenders to get their driver’s licenses restored so they can drive to work and keep a job. Attorney Randy Rollins, Founder and President of Drive to Work, a non-profit organization assisting low income and previously incarcerated persons regain their driving privileges will provide the instruction.

The VSB Access to Legal Services Committee and Drive to Work are co-sponsoring this program which will be submitted for 1.5 hours of MCLE credit. Attendees will certify at registration that, in exchange for the free CLE credit, they will accept a pro bono referral from Drive to Work to represent an ex-offender to regain their driver's privileges or make a financial contribution to Drive to Work.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Information may also be found on the VSB Pro Bono/Access to Legal Services page.

Updated: Mar 23, 2016
March 21, 2016

Comments Sought on Proposed Legal Ethics Opinion 1884

The Virginia State Bar’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics is seeking public comment on proposed advisory Legal Ethics Opinion 1884: Conflicts arising from a lawyer-legislator’s employment with a consulting firm owned by a law firm.

The proposed opinion addresses a situation where a lawyer who is a member of the Virginia General Assembly joins a consulting firm. The lawyer asks whether the lawyers and non-lawyers in the consulting firm would be barred from lobbying the General Assembly and whether that bar would extend to members of the law firm as well. In this proposed opinion, the Committee concluded that both lawyers and non-lawyers in the consulting firm, as well as the lawyers in the law firm that own the consulting firm, would be barred from representing clients or otherwise lobbying before the General Assembly.

The deadline for comments is May 2, 2016.

view proposed LEO 1884

Updated: Mar 21, 2016
March 14, 2016

Council Elections

Additional Info

sample petition (PDF file)

If you are interested in serving on Council, the Virginia State Bar's governing body, there will be an election conducted in the following circuits by electronic ballot. To be eligible to run, you must be an active member in good standing of the circuit as of March 15, 2016. You must file a nominating petition with the executive director at elections@vsb.org on or before April 1, 2016. The nominating petition shall be signed by not fewer than ten other members eligible to vote in the circuit, and shall be accompanied by a statement of qualifications not exceeding one hundred and fifty words (in Word format) and a digital photograph (head shot). 

Circuit 2 1 seat (incumbent eligible for 2nd term)
Circuit 3 1 seat (incumbent eligible for 2nd term)
Circuit 4 1 seat (incumbent eligible for 2nd term)
Circuit 5 1 seat (incumbent eligible for 2nd term)
Circuit 13 1 seat (incumbent eligible for 2nd term)
Circuit 16 1 seat (incumbent is not seeking 2nd term)
Circuit 17 3 seats (2 incumbents eligible for 2nd term)
Circuit 19 2 seats (1 incumbent eligible for 2nd term)
Circuit 20 1 seat (incumbent eligible for 2nd term)
Circuit 23 1 seat (incumbent is not eligible for re-election)
Circuit 26 1 seat (incumbent is not eligible for re-election)
Circuit 27 1 seat (incumbent is not eligible for re-election)
Circuit 31 1 seat (incumbent is not eligible for re-election)

An election by meeting will be conducted in the 6th circuit, which has 1 Council seat.  The incumbent is not eligible for re-election. The election has been set by Chief Judge W. Allan Sharrett. It will be held at the Sussex County Circuit Court on April 20, 2016, at 4:00 p.m. Nominations may be made at the circuit meeting or by any member eligible to vote in the circuit. No supporting petition or second for such nomination will be required.

An election by meeting will be conducted in the 22nd circuit, which has 1 Council seat.  The incumbent is eligible for re-election. The election has been set by Chief Judge Joseph W. Milam, Jr. It will be held at the Pittsylvania County Courthouse in Chatham on March 25, 2016, at 12:00 Noon. Nominations may be made at the circuit meeting or by any member eligible to vote in the circuit. No supporting petition or second for such nomination will be required.

An election by meeting will be conducted in the 24th circuit, which has 1 Council seat.  The incumbent is eligible for re-election. The election has been set by Chief Judge F. Patrick Yeatts.   It will be held at Lynchburg Circuit Court on April 14, 2016, at 4:00 p.m. Nominations may be made at the circuit meeting or by any member eligible to vote in the circuit. No supporting petition or second for such nomination will be required.

An election by meeting will be conducted in the 29th circuit, which has 1 Council seat.  The incumbent is eligible for re-election. The election has been set by Chief Judge Jack S. Hurley, Jr.  It will be held at Tazewell County Circuit Court on April 8, 2016, at 12:15 p.m. Nominations may be made at the circuit meeting or by any member eligible to vote in the circuit. No supporting petition or second for such nomination will be required.

Updated: Mar 14, 2016
March 14, 2016

Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons Receives the Virginia State Bar Leadership in Education Award

Lemons photo

Donald W. Lemons, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, has been named the recipient of the William R. Rakes Leadership in Education Award from the Virginia State Bar Section on the Education of Lawyers in Virginia.

The award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership and vision in developing and implementing innovative concepts to improve and enhance the state of legal education, and in advancing relationships and professionalism among members of the academy, the bench, and the bar within the legal profession in Virginia.

Throughout his career, Chief Justice Lemons has been involved in educational efforts to improve the quality of lawyers in the commonwealth. He began lecturing in numerous continuing legal education seminars sponsored by the bar early in his career. He was a member of the MCLE Board, and was on the faculty of the Judicial Conference of Virginia and the Judicial Conference for District Courts. For years he served on the faculty of the bar’s annual disciplinary conference and on the faculty for the bar’s Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Course. He was also a member of the board of governors for the Education Section of the bar from 1994-97. 

In his letter nominating Chief Justice Lemons for the award, Robert K. Walsh, dean emeritus on the Wake Forest University School of Law, wrote: “He has been passionate about educating law students and young lawyers. In addition to his leadership of the American Inns, Justice Lemons has taught and been very well received by students at several of the Virginia law schools. It is hard to imagine someone who has contributed more to legal education in your state and the nation.”

Chief Justice Lemons served as the A. L. Philpott Distinguished Adjunct Professor from 1998-2000 and the John Marshall Professor of Judicial Studies from 2005-2007 at the University of Richmond School of Law. Since 2007, Chief Justice Lemons has been the Distinguished Professor of Judicial Studies at Washington and Lee University School of Law, where he teaches his extremely popular appellate advocacy class.

Chief Justice Lemons has also been very engaged in the American Inns of Court. The mission of the American Inns of Court is to inspire the legal community to advance the rule of law by achieving the highest level of professionalism through example, education, and mentoring. In 2014 he finished two terms as president of the American Inns Of Court. He has also been the Master of the Bench in both the John Marshall Inn of Court and the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Inn of Court, and he was the president of the John Marshall Inn of Court in 2002-2004. In 2008, he was awarded the rare honor of being named an Honorary Master of the Bench by the Middle Temple Inn of Court in London.

Wyatt B. Durrette Jr., of DurretteCrump PLC in Richmond, wrote: “There are few who can match Don’s contribution to the field of education in the legal profession and he is highly deserving of this recognition.”

Among Chief Justice Lemon’s many awards are the Virginia Trial Lawyers’ Distinguished Service Award (2012), and the William Green Award for Professional Excellence (2006), which is the highest honor awarded by the University of Richmond School of Law.

Updated: Mar 15, 2016
March 10, 2016

Carl J. Witmeyer II Honored for Lifetime Achievement in Family Law

Witmeyer photo

Carl J. Witmeyer II, who is recognized as one of the premier family law attorneys in Virginia, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Betty A. Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award by the Virginia State Bar’s Family Law Section.

The award recognizes and honors an individual who has made a substantial contribution to the practice and administration of family law in Virginia. It will be presented at the Annual Family Law Seminar April 21 at The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond.

Witmeyer, of the Witmeyer Law Firm in Richmond, has been a litigator for forty years focusing on domestic relations law, personal injury, civil litigation, and criminal defense.

In his letter nominating Witmeyer for the award, Terrence R. Batzli of Batzli Stiles Butler noted that Witmeyer has concentrated his practice on family law.  In his letter nominating Witmeyer for the award, Batzli wrote: “Carl is a real ‘in the trenches’ lawyer and has been throughout his career. In an era where many top family law practitioners practice in boutique family law firms, Cal is essentially a sole practitioner in a small firm… I am frequently amazed by the fact that he tries a case in one jurisdiction in the morning and in another venue that afternoon. I frankly don’t know how he does it.”

Witmeyer is a fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and previously served as the chairman of the board of governors of the Virginia State Bar Family Law Section. He is a past president of the Hanover Country Bar Association and Richmond Metropolitan Family Law Bar Association. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Chief's Annual Award from Hanover Fire & EMT. He is a regular lecturer for legal continuing education seminars as well as an author, publishing numerous articles throughout Virginia for professional and continuing legal education organizations.

Witmeyer is a graduate of Gettysburg College and the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond.

Updated: Mar 10, 2016
March 01, 2016

Virginia State Bar E-news, March 2016

The Supreme Court of Virginia has adopted the following amendments, effective March 1, 2016:

At its meeting on February 27, 2016, in Richmond, the Virginia State Bar Council approved amendments to the Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee policies and sent them to the Supreme Court of Virginia for its approval.

 

The council also approved funding for the Diversity Conference, which now will be included for approval in the 2016-17 budget proposal to the Court.

Registration is open for the pro bono webinar on representing “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status” clients in Virginia's J&DR Court and US Immigration Courts.

The following circuits will be holding elections for one or more seats on Council, the VSB's governing body:  2, 3, 4, 5, 13, 16, 17, 19, 20, 23, 26, 27 and 31.  If you are interested in serving on Council, e-mail a nominating petition to the executive director, Karen A. Gould, elections@vsb.org. Petition must be signed by not fewer than ten other members eligible to vote in the circuit, and shall be accompanied by a statement of qualifications not exceeding one hundred and fifty words (in Word format) and a digital photograph (head shot). Nominations must be filed in the office of the executive director on or before April 1.

Volunteers are needed to serve on the Virginia State Bar’s boards and committees. The Nominating Committee will refer nominees to the VSB Council for consideration at its June meeting.

Space is still available at the webcast locations for the 12th Annual Indigent Criminal Defense Seminar Advanced Skills for the Experienced Practitioner.  Court appointed council and public defenders may register for the May 5 webcasts in Weyers Cave and Wytheville. 

Nominated your deserving colleagues for the following awards:

  • Please see the VSB Awards and Contests page for a list of all bar sponsored awards and deadlines.

Registration is open for the YLC Celebration of Women and Minorities in the Legal Profession Bench-Bar Dinner on March 23 at University of Richmond Jepson Alumni Center.

The Young Lawyers Conference  needs circuit representatives, program and committee chairs, and committee members/volunteers for many of its programs this bar year.

Registration is open for the April 25 VSB TECHSHOW at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

The 46th Annual Criminal Law Seminar, sponsored by the VSB Criminal Law Section and Virginia CLE, has video replays scheduled for March 29, 30 & 31 in several locations.

Coming this fall: Watch for the VSB’s new VirginiaFreeLegalAnswers pro bono website, sponsored by the ABA. Lawyers sign up to provide online answers to legal questions posted by low-income Virginians.

Updated: Mar 01, 2016
March 01, 2016

Council Amends Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee Policies

On February 27, 2016, the VSB Council amended the Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee policies and procedures concerning the evaluation of judicial candidates. The amendments clarify procedures for evaluating judicial candidates. They define the scope and criteria of the committee’s investigation. They also create a rebuttable presumption that a candidate who had previously been evaluated for an earlier judicial appointment by the committee merits at least the same rating in the new evaluation.

VIRGINIA STATE BAR
JUDICIAL CANDIDATE EVALUATION COMMITTEE
PROCEDURES AND POLICIES

I. Committee Composition

A.  The Virginia State Bar (VSB) Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee (JCEC or Committee) consists of thirteen active lawyer members, one from each of the bar’s ten disciplinary districts and three from the state at large, elected to staggered three-year terms by Council on recommendation of the nominating committee.  Committee members are not eligible to serve a second consecutive three-year term, but former members may serve as members pro tempore.  The VSB’s Executive Committee shall assign a representative to serve as a liaison to the JCEC as a non-voting member.  The chair is selected by the Committee each year.

                  In instances where one or more currently serving members of the Committee are not available to participate in the process of developing and making recommendations for a particular judicial vacancy, the chair of the Committee may appoint, as members pro tempore, a like number of past members of the Committee who are willing and able to serve during the process of developing and making recommendations for that judicial vacancy.

B.  The Committee is a neutral, non-partisan, deliberative body.


II. Committee Procedures

A.  If requested by the appointing authority, when a judicial vacancy occurs on the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Court of Appeals of Virginia, the federal district courts in Virginia, or a Virginia seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, it is the responsibility of the Committee to consider and, where appropriate, seek nominees. 

B.  The chair of the Committee will assign two members of JCEC to investigate each candidate.  A member of the Committee from a particular VSB disciplinary district will normally be assigned to investigate any and all nominees from that district.  The Committee members conducting the investigation should seek information relating to the experience, integrity, professional competence, temperament, service to the law and to the effective administration of justice and communication skills of the candidate.

C.  Sources will be assured of confidentiality by the investigating Committee member, who will report orally to the Committee on his or her overall findings and conclusions as to each nominee without attribution. 

D.  After judicial nominees are investigated by individual members of the Committee, it will act as a whole to conduct personal interviews with nominees and engage in any other additional investigation deemed necessary.

E.  In evaluating candidates, the Committee should consider the following criteria:

                  1. Experience:  A candidate for judicial office should be a member of the Virginia State Bar and have been engaged in the practice or teaching of law, public interest law, or service in the judicial system. Substantial courtroom and trial experience (as a lawyer or a trial judge) is important for nominees to both the appellate and the trial courts. Additional experience that is similar to in-court trial work — such as appearing before or serving on administrative agencies or arbitration boards, or teaching trial advocacy or other clinical law school courses — is considered by the Committee in evaluating a nominee's trial experience. Significant evidence of distinguished accomplishment in the field of law may compensate for a nominee's lack of substantial courtroom experience.  Recognizing that an appellate judge deals primarily with records, briefs, appellate advocates and colleagues, the Committee may place somewhat more emphasis on the importance of scholarship and the ability to write lucidly and persuasively, to harmonize a body of law and to give guidance to the trial courts for future cases in the evaluation of nominees for appellate courts.

                  2.  Integrity:  The candidate should be of high moral character and enjoy a general reputation in the community for honesty, industry and diligence. 

                  3. Professional competence:  Professional competence includes intellectual capacity, professional and personal judgment, writing and analytical ability, knowledge of the law and a breadth of professional experience, including courtroom and trial experience.

                  4.  Temperament:  Judicial temperament includes a commitment to equal justice under law, freedom from bias, ability to decide issues according to law, courtesy and civility, open-mindedness and compassion.

                  5.  Service to the law and contribution to the effective administration of justice:  Factors in this category include professionalism and a commitment to improving the availability of providing justice to all.  The Committee considers that civic activities and public service are valuable experiences, but that such activity and service are not a substitute for significant experience in the practice of law, whether that experience be in the private or public sector.

                  6.  Communication skills:  Communication skills include the ability to write and speak lucidly and persuasively; to present a question, a response, an order, a ruling, a decision and a judgment, such that it can be understood not only by the lawyers but the parties to the litigation and by the public as well.  The communications should give guidance to the trial courts, the members of the bar and the public for future cases.

F.  Following investigation and personal interviews of the candidates, the Committee shall vote on the qualifications of all candidates. 

1. Any candidate who fails to receive an affirmative vote from a simple majority of those voting shall not be reported by the Committee. 

2. All candidates who receive an affirmative vote from a simple majority of those voting shall be deemed and reported as “Qualified.”  The Committee shall thereafter conduct a second vote to determine, by simple majority of those voting, whether any of the candidates deemed qualified possesses a level of qualification and distinction sufficient to merit the designation “Highly Qualified.” 

3. At the conclusion of the Committee’s deliberations and voting, the Committee shall prepare an executive summary of the Committee’s reasons for its actions with respect to each candidate being designated as either “Qualified” or “Highly Qualified.”  The vote count for each candidate’s evaluation of “Qualified” or “Highly Qualified” shall be included in the executive summary of each candidate.
 

G.  If a candidate has previously been evaluated by the Committee for the same position, and received a rating of “Qualified” or “Highly Qualified,” there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the candidate merits at least the same rating.  In order for the presumption to be rebutted, the Committee must be presented with information reflecting on the candidate’s qualifications that warrants a vote to a lower rating.

H.  The Committee’s designations and executive summaries shall be provided to the Executive Committee (EC) and shall be deemed approved by the EC unless the EC takes action otherwise.  JCEC’s designations and executive summaries shall thereafter be forwarded to the appointing authority in writing and, if permitted, presented orally in person, by the President or his or her designee. 

I.  Following submission of the Virginia State Bar’s designations and executive summaries, these documents will speak for the organization, and no representative of the Virginia State Bar is authorized to offer any further statement regarding any person’s qualifications or suitability for the vacancy, unless the process is re-opened by the appointing authority and the Virginia State Bar’s evaluations are again requested for the vacancy utilizing the process outlined in this policy.

Approved by Council on June 17, 1993
Amended by Council on June 18, 1998
Amended by Council on June 19, 2003
Amended by the Executive Committee
     pursuant to Council authorization, November 30, 2006
Amended by Council on March 2, 2007
Amended by Council on October 19, 2007
Amended by Council on June 14, 2012
Amended by Council on February 27, 2016

Updated: Mar 01, 2016
March 01, 2016

Supreme Court of Virginia Amends Rule Regarding Unauthorized Practice of Law

Effective May 1, 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia amended Section IV, Paragraph 10:
Promulgation of Legal Ethics, Unauthorized Practice of Law Opinions, and Rules of Court; Informal Staff Opinions of Ethics Counsel; and Complaints of Unauthorized Practice of Law

The revisions to Part 6, §IV, paragraph 10 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, provide a more efficient and independent review and investigation of unauthorized practice of law complaints. The amendments to Paragraph 10 clarify the mechanism for the VSB ethics counsel to review and dispose of a complaint of Unauthorized Practice of Law. The amendments also provide for supervision and an independent review and disposition of the complaint by the clerk of the disciplinary system.

View the approved rule changes.

Updated: Mar 01, 2016
February 29, 2016

Highlights of the February 27, 2016, Virginia State Bar Council Meeting

At its meeting on February 27, 2016, in Richmond, the Virginia State Bar Council heard the following significant reports and took the following actions:

Diversity Conference Request for Funding

By a vote of 68 to 6, the council approved funding for the Diversity Conference, which now will be included for approval in the 2016-17 budget proposal to the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Adoption of Amendments to the Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee Policies

The council approved by unanimous vote proposed amendments to the JCEC policies. The amendments clarify procedures for evaluating judicial candidates. They define the scope and criteria of the committee’s investigation. They also create a rebuttable presumption that a candidate who had previously been evaluated for an earlier judicial appointment by the committee merits at least the same rating in the new evaluation.

Updated: Feb 29, 2016
February 22, 2016

VSB Partners with Attorney General and Department of Veterans Services

Offering Free Legal Clinics for Low-Income Veterans

The Virginia State Bar’s Military Law Section, working with Attorney General Mark Herring and the Virginia Department of Veteran’s services will offer free legal clinics for low-income veterans in Virginia.

Donna Price, chair of the VSB Military Law Section says the clinics aim to give legal assistance “to those who have given so much…who have so courageously, and often repeatedly, placed themselves directly in harm’s way in the defense of this great nation.”

Virginia is home to more than 750,000 veterans and their families, as well as to the Pentagon and Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world. The goal is to “serve as many Virginia veterans as possible” according to Herring. The clinics will focus on estate planning issues, including advanced medical directives, simple wills, and powers of attorney. The clinics will take place at the following locations:

March 1: Tidewater Community College (Hampton Roads)
March 2: J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College (Richmond)
March 3: Virginia Western Community College (Roanoke)
March 4: Northern Virginia Community College (Annandale)

Veterans may register to for the event and find additional information here.

Updated: Feb 22, 2016
February 19, 2016

Registration Is Open for Annual Bench-Bar Dinner

The VSB Young Lawyers Conference will host the 13th Annual Bench-Bar Dinner honoring 22 newly elevated woman and minority judges from across the state on March 23 at the Jepson Alumni Center on the University of Richmond campus. The reception and dinner provides an opportunity to honor these new judges and for young lawyers to interact with judges in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.

For more information, and to register, go to http://www.vsb.org/site/conferences/ylc/bench-bar-dinner

Updated: Feb 19, 2016
February 12, 2016

Registration Open for March Pro Bono Webinar

Representing SIJS Clients in Virginia's J&DR Court and U.S. Immigration Courts

Mar 10, 2016 1:00 p.m.

(1.5 hours of MCLE credit pending)

In the last year and a half, over 70,000 unaccompanied minors left Central America and traveled to the United States without their parents to escape gang violence. Over 6,000 children arrived in Virginia, making it the 6th highest receiving state. Some of these children qualify for “special immigrant juvenile status” (SIJS)—an immigration status conferred by the federal government if the state court makes certain factual findings. Additionally, there are several hundred more undocumented children in Virginia who are victims of human sex and labor trafficking. These at-risk clients need representation by pro bono attorneys to obtain immigration and civil protections and remedies.

This free CLE program, which is co-sponsored by the VSB Access to Legal Services Committee, Legal Aid Justice Center, and CAIR Coalition, has been submitted for 1.5 hours MCLE credit and will provide attendees with a deeper understanding of the state J&DR Court and federal proceedings required to obtain “special immigrant juvenile status” and other relief.

In consideration for the free training, attorneys agree to accept a pro bono referral from or make a financial contribution to Legal Aid Justice Center, CAIR Coalition or other legal aid or non-profit legal services program that provides pro bono representation in SIJS and human trafficking cases.

Please register for the webinar here. More information on the event may be found on the Access to Legal Services page. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Updated: Feb 12, 2016
February 10, 2016

Michael N. Herring Honored with the 2016 Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award

The Virginia State Bar Criminal Law Section has presented its 2016 Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award to Michael N. Herring.

The Virginia State Bar has awarded Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael N. Herring with the 2016 Harry L. Carrcio Professionalism Award.  The award recognizes “an individual (judge, defense attorney, prosecutor, clerk or other citizen) who has made a singular and unique contribution to the improvement of the criminal justice system in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Among those nominating Herring were lawyers James A. Bensfield and Jonathan Kossak of the Miller & Chevalier law firm. Bensfield and Kossak represented Michael Kenneth McAlister in a successful petition for a pardon from the governor in 2015, after McAlister served twenty-nine years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit. Herring publicly supported that petition. “Mr. Herring did not need to make these statements (supporting McAlister) in such a public way,” Bensfield and Kossak wrote. “He did it because he is a man of integrity, courage, and justice…. He is the sort of prosecutor we all hope exists – an advocate for justice – not only for the victims of crime, but for those who the system may, every so often, wrong.”

 Chief Justice Harry Carrico’s daughter, retired Judge Lucretia A. Carrico, presented the award on February 5, 2016, during the 46th Annual Criminal Law Seminar in Williamsburg. The award, presented by the VSB Criminal Law Section, is named for the former Virginia Supreme Court chief justice who promoted the ideals of professionalism during his forty-two years on the state’s highest court.

Retired Richmond Circuit Court Judge Richard D. Taylor Jr. also wrote in support of Herring. “Mike Herring makes what he does professionally in and out of the court look almost easy,” Taylor wrote. “Yet, we all know that it is not. It involves relentlessly tough and often gut-wrenching work. The integrity, scholarship and compassion that he has exhibited on a day-to-day basis for decades cannot and should not be taken for granted by us.”

Herring received his undergraduate degree in economics in 1987 and his law degree in 1990 from the University of Virginia. He started his career as an associate at Hunton & Williams, later joining the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney in 1992, where he served as a senior felony trial attorney for violent crimes and narcotics offenses. He then returned to the private sector in 1996 at the law firm of LeClair Ryan where his practice focused on medical malpractice defense and criminal defense.

Prior to his 2006 election as commonwealth's attorney, he was a partner at the law firm of Bricker & Herring where he practiced criminal law and medical malpractice law. Herring served as the first African-American president of the Richmond Bar Association in 2005, is a past chair of the Criminal Law Section of the VSB and of the Third District Attorney Disciplinary Committee. He is an active member of various professional organizations, including the American College of Trial Lawyers. He also serves on several government, community, and non-profit boards.

Updated: Feb 10, 2016
February 01, 2016

Virginia State Bar E-News, February 2016

The Standing Committee on Legal Ethics is seeking public comment on proposed amendments to Rules 1.6 and 3.3 clarifying a lawyer’s obligations when a client discloses an intent to commit perjury well in advance of trial.

The Supreme Court of Virginia has amended the registration statement form regarding the provision of legal services following the determination of a major disaster: Form 1. Registration Statement For Lawyer Engaging In Temporary Practice Following Determination Of Major Disaster.

The Supreme Court of Virginia has adopted amendments to:

Rule 5.5: Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law, effective February 1, 2016;
Rule 8.3: Reporting Misconduct, effective February 1, 2016; 
Paragraph 13: Procedure for Disciplining, Suspending, and Disbarring Attorneys, effective March 1, 2016;
Rule 1.1: Competence, effective March 1, 2016; 
Rule 1.6: Client Confidentiality, effective March 1, 2016. 

The 46th Annual Criminal Law Seminar, sponsored by the VSB Criminal Law Section and Virginia CLE, will be February 5 in Williamsburg and February 12 in Charlottesville.

Volunteers are needed to serve on the Virginia State Bar’s boards and committees. The Nominating Committee will refer nominees to the VSB Council for consideration at its June meeting.

President-elect Robinson seeks members for Virginia State Bar committees with terms commencing July 1, 2016.

The Standing Committee on Lawyer Discipline calls for nominations for district committee vacancies to be filled by the VSB Council in June.

Registration is open for the April 25 VSB TECHSHOW at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

Nominations are being sought for the following awards:

The Conference of Local Bar Associations Awards of MeritLocal Bar Leader of the Year Award, and Bar Association of the Year Award. The nomination deadline is April 29, 2016.
The General Practice Section Tradition of Excellence Award. The nomination deadline is March 21, 2016. 
The Special Committee on Access to Legal Services Oliver White Hill Law Student Pro Bono Award. The nomination deadline is March 25, 2016. 
The Special Committee on Access to Legal Services Virginia Legal Aid Award. The nomination deadline is March 25, 2016. 
The Young Lawyers Conference R. Edwin Burnette, Jr. Young Lawyer of the Year Award. The nomination deadline is April 1, 2016. 

Please see the VSB Awards and Contests page for a list of all bar sponsored awards and deadlines.

Registration is open for the February 19-20 Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys 9th Annual UnProgram at the Boar's Head Inn, Charlottesville.

The annual Law in Society essay contest for high school students is accepting entries. Deadline is February 12.

Save the date for the YLC Celebration of Women and Minorities in the Legal Profession Bench Bar Dinner on March 23 at University of Richmond Jepson Alumni Center.

Updated: Feb 01, 2016
January 29, 2016

Standing Committee On Legal Ethics Seeking Public Comment On Proposed Amendments to Rules 1.6 & 3.3

The proposed amendments are intended to clarify a lawyer’s obligations when a client discloses an intent to commit perjury well in advance of trial, when the lawyer can withdraw from the representation before the client’s intended perjury occurs.

The proposed amendments can be found here.

Updated: Jan 29, 2016
January 27, 2016

Law in Society Essay Contest Deadline February 12

The Virginia State Bar encourages all high school students to submit entries for a chance to win the Law in Society competition and almost $7,000 in cash prizes. The deadline for submissions is Friday, February 12, by 4:00 p.m. This year’s question concerns the trending legal issues surrounding student privacy in the digital age.

All Virginia students age 19 or younger and enrolled in grades 9 through 12, or a homeschool equivalent, are eligible to submit an entry.

Entries should be between 750 and 1,000 words, and are judged on how well they demonstrate the student’s understanding of the role and value of the legal system in everyday life. The contest is cosponsored by the bar's Communications Committee and the VSB Litigation Section.

The first place winner will receive $2,300 and their winning entry will be published on the VSB website. Other awards include $1,850 (second place), $1,350 (third place), and five honorable mentions of $250 each. All winners also receive a plaque and copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. Awards will be presented in May at the winners’ schools.

The hypothetical essay question may be found here.

Updated: Jan 27, 2016
January 21, 2016

Supreme Court of Virginia Amends Rule Regarding Provision of Temporary Legal Services

The Supreme Court of Virginia has amended the registration statement form regarding the provision of legal services following the determination of a major disaster: Form 1. Registration Statement For Lawyer Engaging In Temporary Practice Following Determination Of Major Disaster.

Details

Updated: Jan 21, 2016
January 14, 2016

Williams Mullen Leads Pro Bono Life Planning Initiative

Williams Mullen continues to provide a number of often underserved Virginia groups with life planning documents through free clinics — including veterans, nursing homes, at-risk moms, senior citizens, and recovering addicts. Created in 2007 by Pro Bono Partner Andy Nea, who has led the program’s clinics since its inception, the program served 431 clients in 26 clinics in 2015. 

In total, 104 lawyers contributed their services to the program during 2015, which provides a simple will, a power of attorney and an advance medical directive. The program also partners with Virginia  law schools and, in 2015, 56 students from the University of Richmond, William & Mary and the University of Virginia assisted at the clinics.

Updated: Jan 14, 2016
January 06, 2016

Registration is open for Handling Uncontested Divorces: A Webinar for Pro Bono Lawyers in Virginia

Uncontested divorces remain one the most common requests for pro bono legal aid as low income residents struggle to terminate a marriage while complying with the rules of the court in jurisdictions across Virginia. On February 18, 2016, the VSB Special Committee on Access to Legal Services, the VSB Young Lawyers Conference, Legal Services of Northern Virginia, and Kelly, Byrnes & Danker PLLC will conduct a webinar that will offer 1.5 hours of CLE training on uncontested divorces to all attorneys willing to accept an uncontested divorce referral and to have their names shared with the legal aid pro bono program in their jurisdiction. For more information, the agenda, and registration information, go to https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5565473144201366529.

Updated: Jan 06, 2016
January 04, 2016

Virginia State Bar E-News, January 2016

The Supreme Court of Virginia has adopted amendments to:

  • Rule 3C:2: Uniform Fine Schedule, effective December 17, 2015;
  • Rule 5.5: Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law, effective February 1, 2016;
  • Rule 8.3: Reporting Misconduct, effective February 1, 2016;
  • Paragraph 13: Procedure for Disciplining, Suspending, and Disbarring Attorneys, effective March 1, 2016;
  • Rule 1.1: Competence, effective March 1, 2016;
  • Rule 1.6: Client Confidentiality, effective March 1, 2016.

The 46th Annual Criminal Law Seminar, sponsored by the VSB Criminal Law Section and Virginia CLE, will be February 5 in Williamsburg and February 12 in Charlottesville.

Volunteers are needed to serve on the Virginia State Bar’s boards and committees. The Nominating Committee will refer nominees to the VSB Council for consideration at its June meeting.

President-elect Robinson seeks members for Virginia State Bar committees with terms commencing July 1, 2016

The Standing Committee on Lawyer Discipline calls for nominations for district committee vacancies to be filled by the VSB Council in June

Registration is open for the April 25 VSB TECHSHOW at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

Nominations are being sought for the following awards:

Registration is open for the February 19-20 Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys 9th Annual UnProgram at the Boar's Head Inn, Charlottesville.

The annual Law in Society essay contest for high school students is accepting entries.

Save the date for the YLC Celebration of Women and Minorities in the Legal Profession Bench Bar Dinner on March 23 at University of Richmond Jepson Alumni Center.

Updated: Jan 04, 2016
December 21, 2015

Supreme Court of Virginia Adopts Changes to Rules

Effective March 1, 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia has adopted amendments to Paragraph 13: Procedure for Disciplining, Suspending, and Disbarring Attorneys.

Effective immediately, the Court also adopted amendments to Rule 3C:2: Uniform Fine Schedule.

The amendments were approved by the Supreme Court of Virginia on December 17, 2015.

The approved rule changes may be viewed here on the Virginia State Bar's rule changes web page.

Updated: Dec 21, 2015
December 18, 2015

Supreme Court of Virginia Amends Rules

Additional Info

View the Supreme Court of Virginia Order (PDF file)

Effective March 1, 2016, the Supreme Court of Virginia has approved amendments to Rule 1.1 Competence and Rule 1.6 Client Confidentiality.

The amendments regarding competence and confidentiality of information were approved by the Supreme Court of Virginia on 12/17/2015. The approved rule change may be viewed here on Virginia State Bar's Rule Changes web page.

Updated: Dec 18, 2015
December 01, 2015

Virginia State Bar E-News, December 2015

The Virginia State Bar is seeking comments on proposed amendments to the policies and procedures of the Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee.

The VSB is seeking comments on a proposal to fund the Diversity Conference  from mandatory dues.

Effective February 1, 2016, The Supreme Court of Virginia has approved amendments to two rules:

  • Rule 5.5: Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law.
  • Rule 8.3: Reporting Misconduct.

Experienced judges and lawyers will provide practice tips at the First Day in Practice seminar. The December 10 seminar is sponsored by the VSB General Practice Section and the Young Lawyers Conference. Six CLE credits, two ethics (pending). Space is limited.

The MCLE Form 1 End of Year Report deadline is 4:45 p.m. on December 15.

Volunteers are needed to serve the Virginia State Bar’s boards and committees. The Nominating Committee will refer nominees to the VSB Council for consideration at its June meeting.

The 46th Annual Criminal Law Seminar, sponsored by the VSB Criminal Law Section and Virginia CLE, will be February 5 in Williamsburg and February 12 in Charlottesville.

The VSB is seeking nominations for the following awards:

President-elect Robinson seeks members for Virginia State Bar committees with terms commencing July 1, 2016.

The Standing Committee on Lawyer Discipline calls for nominations for district committee vacancies to be filled by the VSB Council in June

Registration is open for the April 25 VSB TECHSHOW at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

The annual Law in Society essay contest for high school students is accepting entries.

Save the date for the YLC Celebration of Women and Minorities in the Legal Profession Bench Bar Dinner on March 23 at University of Richmond Jepson Alumni Center.

Updated: Dec 01, 2015
November 30, 2015

New FAQ #26—Client’s Intent to Commit Suicide

Lawyers have often dealt with depressed clients, including clients who, sadly, have informed the lawyer that they intend to take their own life, for example, if their case does not turnout well. How should a lawyer respond? This frequently asked question and others are answered by the VSB Ethics Counsel at http://www.vsb.org/profguides/FAQ_leos/LegalEthicsFAQs.html

If you have a question about legal ethics, be sure to visit the Virginia State Bar’s “Frequently Asked Questions” page, where you will find frequently asked questions about legal ethics and trust accounting, guidance about legal ethics and social networking, guidelines for closing your law practice and successorship planning for death and disability. http://www.vsb.org/site/regulation/faqs

Updated: Nov 30, 2015
November 24, 2015

Nominations Sought For Committee Vacancies

Volunteers are needed to serve the Virginia State Bar’s boards and committees.  The Nominating Committee will refer nominees to the VSB Council for consideration at its June meeting.

Vacancies in 2016 are listed below.  All appointments will be for the terms specified, beginning on July 1, 2016, unless otherwise noted.

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE:  6 vacancies (1 current member is not eligible for reappointment, and 5 current members are eligible for reappointment).  Filled from ranks of the council for 1-year terms, by council appointment.   

CLIENTS’ PROTECTION FUND BOARD:  7 vacancies (2 current lawyer members from the 2nd and 5th disciplinary districts are not eligible for reelection; 3 current lawyer members from the 1st, 4th and 9th disciplinary districts are eligible for reelection; 1 current lawyer member at-large is not eligible for reelection; and 1 current lay member at-large is not eligible for reelection).  May serve 2 consecutive 3-year terms.  Appointment by council.

JUDICIAL CANDIDATE EVALUATION COMMITTEE:  4 lawyer vacancies (of which 2 vacancies are to be filled by a member from the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th or 8th  judicial circuits; 1 vacancy is to be filled by a member from the 6th, 11th, 12th, 13th or 14th judicial circuits and 1 member at-large vacancy).  May serve 1 full 3-year term.  Appointment by council.

AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION DELEGATES:  1 lawyer vacancy (1 current member is eligible for reappointment).  May serve 3 consecutive 2-year terms.  Appointment by council.  Term commences September 1, 2016.

Nominations, along with a brief résumé, should be sent by March 11, 2016, to:

VSB Nominating Committee
c/o Asha Holloman
Virginia State Bar
1111 East Main Street, Suite 700
Richmond, VA 23219-0026
Updated: Nov 24, 2015
November 23, 2015

Justice Sotomayor Offers Richmond Students Advice, Reflection

Sotomayor photo

By Deirdre Norman

US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the third woman and the first Hispanic appointed to the Court, spent an hour discussing her new book and answering questions from law students in the Merhige Moot Courtroom at the University of Richmond November 18.

Early in the event, when asked for advice for young lawyers, Justice Sotomayor replied, “If you have the opportunity, go clerk for a judge. That’s a professional mistake I made.”

Dean Wendy Perdue’s wry response: “It worked out OK,” brought laughter from the students and the faculty, who filled the courtroom and overflowed into adjoining rooms where the event was live-streamed.

Sotomayor’s book, My Beloved World, chronicles her life from growing up in a Bronx housing project to when she was nominated to become a federal district judge in New York, and recounts her struggles with juvenile diabetes and the death of her alcoholic father when she was 9. Sotomayor said the book “was an escape back into my old life and an effort to remain me and hang on to Sonia.”

When asked by Perdue to discuss her use of the term “undocumented immigrant” rather than “illegal alien” in Mohawk v. Carpenter, a first in the Supreme Court lexicon, Sotomayor responded, “Justice Breyer once said that the only currency we have in getting people to accept our opinions is the language of persuasion.”

Sotomayor focused extensively on human issues, including empathy, giving back, the importance of making real connections with classmates and friends, and sensitivity to the feelings of others in the courtroom, to which she referenced Safford Unified School District v. Redding, where the court found the strip search of a 13-year-old girl unconstitutional.

To a student who questioned what she would like to tell the framers of the Constitution as it effects the judiciary, Sotomayor replied, “I probably would have told the framers that Congress could not specify what our standards of review are.” She went on to say that she felt too much statutory and civil law has moved the courts away from common law, allowing, “I am a common law justice more than a lot of my colleagues.”

Sotomayor said that she is aware of her impact on others in society. She admitted that she almost pulled out of the nomination process for the Supreme Court because, “Many said I was not intelligent enough to be on the Supreme Court. It was very painful.”

After a friend pointed out that this nomination was not only about her, but about others, including the friend’s own daughter who would look to her as a Hispanic woman in a position of power, she decided to carry on, particularly when President Obama encouraged her by saying, “‘Judge, remember the press is a distortion.’”

When questioned whether the Supreme Court should be a leader in social change, Sotomayor said, “We’ve led in some areas, and been behind in others,” suggesting that the area of women’s rights had lagged particularly. As an example she mentioned that the Supreme Court was still excluding mothers from jury duty in the 1960s and that it was not until the 1990s when Justices Ginsburg and O’Connor were on the bench that “finally we had a decision that favored women such as the VMI case.” (United States v. Virginia)

About the role of the Supreme Court, Sotomayor said, “If we get too far ahead, our opinions will not be followed. If we get too far behind, our opinions are not valued. We move with and grow with society.”

Responding to a question as to what advice she would give to children who are growing up underprivileged, Sotomayor stressed the importance of appreciating all accomplishments, no matter how small, and of each person defining their success in their own terms. She pointed out that her initial salary as a district attorney was $17,500 a year, far less than many of her law school friends were making as private attorneys. Yet she reminded herself that this was far more money than her own mother, a nurse, had ever made.

She concluded, “I think that hope is kept alive by what I call realistic expectations.”  

Updated: Nov 25, 2015
November 17, 2015

Supreme Court of Virginia Approves Amendments

The Supreme Court of Virginia has approved amendments to two rules:

Rule 5.5: Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law.

Rule 8.3: Reporting Misconduct.

View PDF file

Updated: Nov 17, 2015
November 02, 2015

Virginia State Bar E-News, November 2015

Supreme Court of Virginia Takes Action on Rules.

The Virginia State Bar is seeking comments on proposed amendments to the policies and procedures of the Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee.  

The VSB is seeking comments on a proposal to fund the Diversity Conference  from mandatory dues. 

In an order dated October 20, 2015,  the Virginia Supreme Court reestablished the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee. 

The Supreme Court of Virginia has amended Rule 5:20: Petition for Rehearing After Refusal of Petition for Appeal, the Denial of the Appeal, Refusal of Assignments of Cross-Error, or Disposition of an Original Jurisdiction Petition.  

Experienced judges and lawyers will provide practice tips at the First Day in Practice seminar. The December 10 seminar is sponsored by the VSB General Practice Section and the Young Lawyers Conference. Six CLE credits, two ethics (pending). Space is limited. 

The MCLE Form 1 End of Year Report deadline is 4:45 p.m. December 15.

The 46th Annual Criminal Law Seminar, sponsored by the VSB Criminal Law Section and Virginia CLE, will be February 5 in Williamsburg and February 12 in Charlottesville.

The VSB is seeking nominations for the following awards:

President-elect Robinson seeks members for Virginia State Bar committees with terms commencing July 1, 2016

The annual Law in Society essay contest for high school students is accepting entries.

Updated: Oct 30, 2015
October 30, 2015

Supreme Court of Virginia Takes Action on Rules

Effective immediately, the Supreme Court of Virginia:

  • Amended Paragraph 10, Section IV of the Rules for Integration of the Virginia State Bar, Part Six of the Rules of the Court, Promulgation of Legal Ethics, Unauthorized Practice of Law Opinions, and Rules of Court; Informal Staff Opinions of Ethics Counsel; and Complaints of Unauthorized Practice of Law; (see revisions with changes marked) and
  • Amended Part Three A, Appendix of Forms, Form 6 (Suggested Questions to Be Put by the Court to an Accused Who Has Pleaded Guilty (Rule 3A:8)) & 11 (Misdemeanor Proceedings in District and Circuit Courts (Rule 3A:8(b)(2); Rule 7C:6; and Rule 8:18)).

 

Effective January 1, 2016, the Court:

  • Amended Rule 5:21, Special Rules Applicable to Certain Appeals of Right;
  • Amended Rule 5:35, Attorney's Fees, Costs, and Notarized Bill of Costs, and  5A:30, Attorney Fees, Costs and Notarized Bill of Costs;
  • Amended Rules 5:13A, Digital Appellate Record: Preparation and Transmission, and  5A:10A, Digital Appellate Record: Preparation and Transmission; and
  • Added Part Ten, Provision of Legal Services Following Determination of Major Disaster.

Effective July 1, 2016, the Court:

Updated: Oct 30, 2015
October 29, 2015

Volunteers Sought for VSB Committees

Virginia State Bar President-elect Michael W. Robinson invites Virginia lawyers to volunteer for bar committees. Appointments generally will be for three-year terms that run from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2019.

A list of committees and an application form is available online. To be considered for an appointment, mail or e-mail the form to Asha Holloman, holloman@vsb.org, by February 26, 2016. Questions should be addressed to Asha Holloman at (804) 775-0551 or aholloman@vsb.org. Persons of diversity are encouraged to apply.

Updated: Nov 13, 2015
October 26, 2015

Comments Sought on Proposal to Fund the Diversity Conference

The Diversity Conference of the Virginia State Bar has existed since 2010 following the Supreme Court of Virginia’s approval of its creation and mission. The Diversity Conference receives no money from bar dues. It is funded through private donations from entities that support the activities of the conference, which focus on “increasing diversity in the legal profession and . . . ensuring that Virginia meets the legal needs of an increasingly diverse population.” 

The Attorney General of Virginia issued a formal opinion on October 2, 2015, that the mission of the conference creates no constitutional barrier to it being funded by revenue from mandatory dues. [See http://www.oag.state.va.us/files/Opinions/2015/Wexton_15-017.pdf and Keller v. State Bar of California, 496 U.S. 1 (1990.]

The VSB currently funds three conferences: the Conference of Local Bar Associations, the Senior Lawyers Conference, and the Young Lawyers Conference. At its February 2016 meeting, the VSB Council will consider funding the Diversity Conference.  

You are invited to comment on the issue by January 1, 2016, by e-mailing the Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar at publiccomment@vsb.org:

Should the Virginia State Bar Diversity Conference be eligible for funding from state bar funds in the same manner as the Conference of Local Bar Associations, the Senior Lawyers Conference, and the Young Lawyers Conference?

Updated: Nov 02, 2015
October 21, 2015

Supreme Court of Virginia Re-establishes Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee

On October 20, 2015, Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons signed an order re-establishing the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee.

view the press release

Updated: Oct 21, 2015
October 08, 2015

Registration is Ongoing for the Annual Pro Bono Conference

The Special Committee on Access to Legal Services will hold its annual Pro Bono Conference and Celebration on October 21 in Williamsburg. To register for the conference, which will include the presentation of the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Pro Bono Award to George H. Hettrick., go to http://www.vsb.org/docs/probono/2015-10-PB-conf-reg.pdf.

Updated: Oct 08, 2015
October 07, 2015

Supreme Court of Virginia Amends Rule

Effective immediately, the Supreme Court of Virginia has amended Rule 5:20: Petition for Rehearing After Refusal of Petition for Appeal, the Denial of the Appeal, Refusal of Assignments of Cross-Error, or Disposition of an Original Jurisdiction Petition.

view the rule (PDF file)

Updated: Oct 07, 2015
October 06, 2015

Comments Sought on Proposed Amendments to JCEC Policy

The Virginia State Bar is seeking comments on proposed amendments to the policies and procedures of the Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee. Comments should be submitted to Karen A. Gould, Executive Director, Virginia State Bar, 1111 E. Main St., Suite 700, Richmond, VA 23219-0026, no later than the end of the business day on December 12, 2015. Comments may be submitted via e-mail to publiccomment@vsb.org.

view the proposed amendments (Word doc)

Updated: Oct 06, 2015
October 02, 2015

Virginia State Bar E-News, October 2015

The Special Committee on Access to Legal Services will hold its annual Pro Bono Conference and Celebration on October 21 in Williamsburg.

The Standing Committee on Lawyer Discipline calls for nominations for district committee vacancies to be filled by Council in June.

The annual Law In Society essay contest for high school students is accepting entries.

The Criminal Law Section is accepting nominations for the Harry L. Carrico Professionalism Award. Nominations are due by December 7.

The Special Committee on the Better Annual Meeting is seeking comments on its proposal to amend the term of its committee members from three years to five years because of the need for institutional memory. 

Membership dues must be received by October 13 to avoid suspension. Members may pay at the member’s portal or by mail.

The deadline for completing your MCLE requirements is October 31. Failure to complete twelve CLE hours, including two hours in ethics/professionalism and four hours from live interactive programs by the deadline, will result in a $100 non-compliance fee. Please visit the MCLE page to see a list of approved courses or check your credits, and certify your MCLE attendance on the member portal

The Understanding the Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions: How to Navigate Criminal and Immigration Proceedings in Virginia CLE on October 29 will be at George Mason School of Law from noon to 4 p.m. The seminar is sponsored by the Young Lawyers Conference and open to all.

Save the date for the 46th Annual Criminal Law Seminar, sponsored by the VSB Criminal Law Section and Virginia CLE, scheduled for February 5 in Williamsburg and February 12 in Charlottesville.

Updated: Oct 02, 2015
September 28, 2015

Liberty University Seeks Lawyers to Judge ABA Competition

Liberty University will be one of the host schools for this year’s American Bar Association Law Student Division Negotiation Competition. Liberty is seeking volunteer lawyers to judge the competition. Law students from Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia will participate in this contest. Moot Court judges are needed on Saturday, November 7, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Saturday, November 7, from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Sunday, November 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The competition simulates legal negotiations in which law students, acting as lawyers and operating in teams of two, negotiate opposing interests in a series of legal problems. This competition provides students with a unique opportunity to develop practical skills that will enable them to become proficient attorneys.

This is an excellent opportunity for current attorneys to instruct and participate in the development of the next generation of lawyers. The judges will grade participants based upon their legal analysis, poise, creativity, communication, and negotiation skills. The teams receiving the highest scores on Saturday, November 7, will advance to the final round on Sunday, November 8. The winning team will advance to the National Negotiation Finals Competition in San Diego, CA.

To volunteer contact jhesch@liberty.edu or student representative Jeremiah Mosteller, at jgmosteller@gmail.com or (704) 472-3002.

Updated: Sep 28, 2015
September 24, 2015

CANCELED: Joint ADR Committee Offers CLE

This event has been canceled.

The Joint ADR Committee is offering a CLE at 1 p.m. on September 29 titled Ethical Considerations of Client Communication.

The one-hour seminar by phone/bridge call will earn participants 1.0 MCLE credit in ethics.  The seminar is free to members of the Joint Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee of the Virginia Bar Association and Virginia State Bar.

Non-ADR members can register for $25, which includes the program and Joint ADR Committee membership for a year. For details on the presenters and the topic, see the event webpage

Updated: Sep 28, 2015
September 23, 2015

Nominations Sought For District Committee Vacancies

The Standing Committee on Lawyer Discipline calls for nominations for district committee vacancies to be filled by Council in June.  Note that there are vacancies which may not become available because some members are eligible for reappointment.

To review qualifications for eligibility, see Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, Part 6, Section IV, Paragraph 13-4 – Establishment of District Committees, specifically 13-4.E (Qualifications of Members) and 13-4.F (Persons Ineligible for Appointment).

FIRST DISTRICT COMMITTEE:  3 attorney vacancies (2 current members are eligible for reappointment).  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th or 8th judicial circuits.

SECOND DISTRICT COMMITTEE, SECTION I:  4 attorney vacancies (2 current members are eligible for reappointment).  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 2nd or 4th judicial circuits.

SECOND DISTRICT COMMITTEE, SECTION II:  2 attorney vacancies (both members are eligible for reappointment); 2 non-attorney vacancies.  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 2nd or 4th judicial circuits.

THIRD DISTRICT COMMITTEE, SECTION I:  3 attorney vacancies (2 current members are eligible for reappointment).  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 6th, 11th, 12th, 13th or 14th judicial circuits.

THIRD DISTRICT COMMITTEE, SECTION II:  3 attorney vacancies (all 3 current members are eligible for reappointment); 1 non-attorney vacancy (current member is eligible for reappointment).  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 6th, 11th, 12th, 13th or 14th judicial circuits.

THIRD DISTRICT COMMITTEE, SECTION III:  1 attorney vacancy (current member is eligible for reappointment).  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 6th, 11th, 12th, 13th or 14th judicial circuits.

FOURTH DISTRICT COMMITTEE, SECTION I:  2 attorney vacancies (1 current member is eligible for reappointment); 1 non-attorney vacancy (current member is eligible for reappointment).  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 17th or 18th judicial circuits.

FOURTH DISTRICT COMMITTEE, SECTION II:  3 attorney vacancies (1 current member is eligible for reappointment); 1 non-attorney vacancy.  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 17th or 18th judicial circuits.

FIFTH DISTRICT COMMITTEE, SECTION I:  2 attorney vacancies (both current members are eligible for reappointment); 2 non-attorney vacancies (1 current member is eligible for reappointment).  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 19th or 31st judicial circuits.

FIFTH DISTRICT COMMITTEE, SECTION II:  2 attorney vacancies; 1 non-attorney vacancy.  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 19th or 31st judicial circuits.

FIFTH DISTRICT COMMITTEE, SECTION III:  3 attorney vacancies (2 current members are eligible for reappointment); 1 non-attorney vacancy (current member is eligible for reappointment).  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 19th or 31st judicial circuits.

SIXTH DISTRICT COMMITTEE:  2 attorney vacancies; 1 non-attorney vacancy.  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 9th or 15th judicial circuits.

SEVENTH DISTRICT COMMITTEE:  4 attorney vacancies (3 current members are eligible for reappointment).  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 16th, 20th or 26th judicial circuits.

EIGHTH DISTRICT COMMITTEE:  1 attorney vacancy (current member is eligible for reappointment); 1 non-attorney vacancy.  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 23rd or 25th judicial circuits.

NINTH DISTRICT COMMITTEE:  1 non-attorney vacancy (current member is eligible for reappointment).  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 10th, 21st, 22nd or 24th judicial circuits.

TENTH DISTRICT COMMITTEE, SECTION I:  2 attorney vacancies; 1 non-attorney vacancy.  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 27th, 28th, 29th or 30th judicial circuits.

TENTH DISTRICT COMMITTEE, SECTION II:  1 attorney vacancy; 1 non-attorney vacancy.  Vacancies are to be filled by members from the 27th, 28th, 29th or 30th judicial circuits.

Nominations, along with a brief resume, should be sent by February 28, 2016, to:

Stephanie Blanton
Virginia State Bar
1111 East Main Street, Suite 700
Richmond, VA 23219-0026
Updated: Sep 23, 2015
September 22, 2015

2016 High School Essay Contest Explores a School’s Right to Access Students’ Secrets

Is it OK for school administrators to go undercover or use false identities to dig out secret information from students’ social media pages? What if that information includes a test stolen from the school?

Those are the questions the Virginia State Bar (VSB) is asking students to address in its annual Law in Society essay competition. Essays are judged on how well they demonstrate the student’s understanding of the role and value of the legal system in everyday life. The purpose of the contest is to awaken an interest in law and appreciation of the US Constitution.

Virginia high school students age 19 or younger and enrolled in grades 9–12 or a home-school equivalent are eligible to submit an essay for a chance to win the competition and cash prizes. The contest is co-sponsored by the VSB Litigation Section and Communications Committee. The deadline for submissions is February 12, 2016.

The first place winner will receive $2,300 and the winning essay will be published on the VSB website. Other awards include $1,850 (second place), $1,350 (third place), and honorable mentions of $250 each. All winners receive a plaque and copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style. Awards will be presented in the spring at the winners’ schools.

This year’s competition examines a hypothetical situation at fictional Rocktown High School where it is apparent that students in an AP history class have somehow received advance information on test questions. A student tells teachers that the test was stolen and circulated among students in the class through a social media site. The school principal forces a student, under threat of suspension from school, to log into the secret site in front of her in order to confirm that the test questions were posted there. The principal then gets another student, again under the threat of suspension, to turn over his cell phone and show her text messages that include the names of the students who had advance knowledge of the test. All of the students involved are expelled from the school.

Contestants are asked to address whether a school administrator can demand that a student share her list of “friends” on a social media site; whether a school administrator or teacher can demand that a student surrender his or her cell phone and share private text messages; and whether there is a better course of action the school could take.

More information, including contest rules and last year’s winning essay, is posted at https://www.vsb.org/site/public/law-in-society

Updated: Sep 22, 2015
September 21, 2015

Registration Open for Ethical Considerations in Pro Bono Webinar

October 1, 2015, 2 p.m.

The Access Committee offers free, nuts and bolts training on substantive law and ethics for attorneys interested in providing pro bono publico legal services to economically disadvantaged Virginians. As the VSB's kickoff event for the National Pro Bono Celebration in October, this program will focus on the ethical rules and opinions for pro bono attorneys as well as provide information about the need and opportunities for pro bono service throughout Virginia. Topics and presenters include: 

1. The Justice Gap in Virginia and Rule 6.1 – John Whitfield, executive director, Blue Ridge Legal Services 
2. Other Ethical Rules and Opinions of Particular Relevance to Pro Bono Lawyers – Seth Guggenheim, assistant ethics counsel, Virginia State Bar 
3. Pro Bono Service by Solo and Small Firm Practitioners – Jennifer Grace Dean, Virginia Immigration Law Center 
4. How and Where to Get Pro Bono Cases – Tara Casey, director, Harry L. Carrico Center for Pro Bono Service, University of Richmond School of Law 

This training has been approved for 1.0 hour of CLE (1.0 Ethics). 

 Register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5696053341107352577

After registering, you will receive a confirmation e-mail containing information about joining the webinar.

Updated: Sep 23, 2015
September 14, 2015

VSB Announces Recipient of Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Pro Bono Award

The Lewis F. Powell Jr. Pro Bono Award this year will be awarded to a lawyer who has led the bro bono efforts of one of the most influential law firms in Virginia for twenty-five years, George H. Hettrick.

Hettrick is chair of the Pro Bono Leadership Committee at Hunton & Williams in Richmond. He was the driving force behind the firm’s creation of pro bono offices in the Church Hill community in Richmond, in Charlottesville, where the firm works with the University of Virginia Law School, and in Atlanta.

In nominating Hettrick for the award, Christopher M. Malone of ThompsonMcMullan in Richmond wrote, “In my view, there is no individual lawyer in Virginia who has made a more significant impact in the development of pro bono service delivery in our state. George’s commitment to pro bono service and his encouragement to others to engage in pro bono work is unparalleled. George has inspired, challenged, cajoled and begged all to accept responsibility for making pro bono work a central part of the practice of law. George has been creative in coming up with innovative ideas for the expansion of pro bono services throughout the commonwealth.”

Hettrick graduated from Cornell University in 1962 and received his law degree from Harvard University in 1965. He joined Hunton & Williams in 1965. He served as special counsel to Governor Linwood Holton in 1970-71. He is a board member in several community organizations including The Greater Richmond Bar Foundation, the Chesterfield/Colonial Heights Drug Court Foundation, Lawyers Helping Lawyers, and the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence. He is also a member of the Virginia Access to Justice Commission, the Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs of the American Bar Association, the Committee on Substance Abuse of the ABA, and the Pro Bono Committee of the Bar Association of Richmond.

Tara Louise Casey, director of the Harry L. Carrico Center for Pro Bono Service at the University of Richmond School of Law, noted: “The effect of (Hettrick’s) legacy in the legal world is profound, with pro bono now seen as seamlessly woven into the obligation of practice. It would not be an overstatement to say that because of George, Virginia now has a robust Firms in Service, a robust Access to Justice Commission, a robust Lawyers Helping Lawyers, and a robust nationwide reputation for being a collaborative, cooperative place of pro bono practice. …I hope he will accept (the award) not only as recognition of his tremendous body of work but also as a heartfelt thank you from a grateful legal community.”

The Powell award was established by the Special Committee on Access to Legal Services of the Virginia State Bar to honor attorneys and attorney groups that have made outstanding pro bono contributions. This year’s award will be presented October 21 during the Virginia State Bar Pro Bono Conference and Celebration in Williamsburg.

Updated: Sep 14, 2015
September 04, 2015

Supreme Court Preview

The Institute of Bill of Rights Law at William & Mary Law School will host the 28th Annual Supreme Court Preview on September 25 and 26 to mark the new term of the United States Supreme Court. The Preview brings together Court advocates, journalists, law professors, and practitioners to review significant cases that have been granted certiorari for the upcoming term of the Court. A highlight of the event is the Friday evening Moot Court, during which seasoned advocates argue a controversial upcoming case. The Preview is nationally recognized for providing insight into the upcoming term. It has been approved for 6 CLE credits.

Updated: Sep 04, 2015
September 02, 2015

Virginia State Bar E-News, September 2015

Effective immediately, the Supreme Court of Virginia has approved an amendment to Paragraph 13-4E: Establishment of District Committees. The Court also adopted Paragraph 13.4: Insurance Coverage Requirement for Respondents Under Va. Code § 54.1-3935(D).

The Poverty and the Law: Understanding Poverty seminar on September 18 has been approved for three hours of MCLE (one hour Ethics). The seminar is sponsored by the Special Committee on Access to Legal Services and the University of Richmond School of Law.

The Special Committee on the Better Annual Meeting is seeking comments on its proposal to amend the term of its committee members from three years to five years because of the need for institutional memory. 

The Young Lawyers Conference 14th annual Professional Development Conference will be September 25 at four locations – Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia Beach, and Tysons Corner.

Registration is open for the October 1 seminar -- Let’s Talk Tech: Bringing Lawyers & Technology Together in an Ethical & Practical Way.

Registration is open for the 2015 VSB Pro Bono Conference and Celebration, Wednesday, October 21, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Williamsburg. 

Membership dues must be received by October 13 to avoid suspension. Members may pay at the member’s portal or by mail.

Updated: Sep 01, 2015
August 27, 2015

Register now for the October 1 seminar—Let’s Talk Tech

The “Let’s Talk Tech: Bringing Lawyers & Technology Together in an Ethical & Practical Way” seminar on October 1 is sponsored by the VSB Special Committee on Technology and the Practice of Law and the Richmond Bar Association. It has been approved for four hours of MCLE, including three hours of ethics.

Updated: Aug 27, 2015
August 25, 2015

Lowenstein Elected to Represent the 4th Circuit

Neil S. Lowenstein has been elected as the new 4th Judicial Circuit representative on the VSB Council. He term begins immediately. He received the majority of the 217 votes cast in the election.

Updated: Aug 25, 2015
August 24, 2015

Register now for the September 18 seminar - Poverty and the Law: Understanding Poverty

The Poverty and the Law: Understanding Poverty seminar on September 18 has been approved for three hours of MCLE (one hour Ethics). The seminar is sponsored by the Special Committee on Access to Legal Services and the University of Richmond School of Law.

Updated: Aug 21, 2015
August 21, 2015

Supreme Court of Virginia Adopts Amendment and Addition to Rules

Effective immediately, the Supreme Court of Virginia has approved an amendment to Paragraph 13-4E: Establishment of District Committees. The Court also adopted Paragraph 13.4: Insurance Coverage Requirement for Respondents Under Va. Code § 54.1-3935(D).

view the Supreme Court of Virginia order (PDF file)

Updated: Aug 21, 2015
August 18, 2015

C. Flippo Hicks, 1929–2015

Hicks photo

C. Flippo Hicks, president of the Virginia State Bar in 1990–91, died August 13 at Heron Cove in Gloucester. Mr. Hicks had a long and distinguished legal career. In addition to serving the bar as president, he was president of the Middle Peninsula Bar Association, a member of the VSB Special Committee on Tort Reform and the VSB Special Committee Establishing Third Year Practice. He was a chair of the bar’s Litigation Section and the General Practice Section. He also served on numerous other bar organizations.

When he was interviewed upon becoming president of the VSB in July 1990, he told Virginia Lawyer, “I have loved the law since elementary school when my father took me to hear cases argued in the Circuit Court of Caroline County.”  He went on to say, “I might not be able to do everything I would like to as president of the bar and they may not like everything I do, but they will know I have been there.”

Mr. Hicks, who was born February 24, 1929, grew up in Port Royal. He received his undergraduate degree in commerce from the University of Virginia in 1950 and his law degree there in 1952. He was an assistant attorney general of Virginia from 1952 to 1959 when he moved to Gloucester and joined the DeHardit law firm. He remained in private practice until his retirement.

 

In 1962, Mr. Hicks became general counsel to the Virginia Association of Counties and was its senior lobbyist for forty years. According to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, Mr. Hicks was involved in landmark legislative decisions such as integration, annexation, school funding, and public kindergarten. His work in 1966 implementing the first statewide sales tax, which would go on to generate revenue for local schools, was one of the first collaborative efforts of the Virginia Association of Counties and the Virginia Municipal League. He received the Edward J. Finnegan Award for Distinguished Service by the Local Government Attorneys of Virginia as recognition of his effectiveness as a lobbyist. In 2002, the Virginia Association of Counties bestowed its highest honor, the Jefferson Cup Award, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to local government.

Updated: Apr 15, 2016
August 17, 2015

Deadline Near For Lewis F. Powell Jr. Pro Bono Award Nominations

The Access to Legal Services Committee of the Virginia State Bar is seeking nominations for the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Pro Bono Award. The deadline for receipt of nominations is Friday, August 21. The award will be presented at a ceremony during the Virginia Pro Bono and Legal Aid Conference, Wednesday, October 21, 2015, at the Doubletree by Hilton Williamsburg Hotel.

Updated: Aug 17, 2015
August 06, 2015

Comments Sought on Proposed Amendment to Better Annual Meeting Committee Bylaws

The Special Committee on the Better Annual Committee proposes amending the term of its committee members from three years to five years because of the need for institutional memory. The proposed bylaw amendment is set forth below. Comments should be submitted to Karen A. Gould, Executive Director, Virginia State Bar, 1111 E. Main St., Suite 700, Richmond, VA 23219-0026, no later than the end of the business day on October 15, 2015. Comments may be submitted via e-mail to publiccomment@vsb.org.

PART 1 – BYLAWS OF THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR

ARTICLE V

Committees

Sec. 4. Members of special committees shall be appointed to three-year terms, with the exception of the Special Committee on the Better Annual Meeting and the Special Committee on Lawyer Malpractice Insurance whose members shall be appointed to five-year terms. No member shall serve more than two consecutive terms on such a committee. A member appointed to fill an unexpired term shall be eligible to serve two additional full terms. An eligible member wishing to be reappointed to a special committee shall be required to reapply in writing prior to the end of his or her current term under procedures established by Council and administered by the executive director. If any member of a committee fails to attend either three meetings during any bar year or two successive meetings of the committee without providing an explanation satisfactory to the committee chair, or in the case of a lawyer member, is declared not in good standing with the Virginia State Bar, such person’s position shall automatically be considered vacated and filled as in the case of other vacancies.

Updated: Aug 06, 2015
August 05, 2015

4th Circuit Election

Ballots for the open 4th Circuit seat on the VSB Council will be e-mailed to eligible voters on Monday, August 10. The election will close on August 24. The vacancy is for an unexpired term beginning September 1, 2015, and ending June 30, 2017. Read statements from candidates Neil Lowenstein and Christian Connell.

Updated: Aug 17, 2015
August 03, 2015

Virginia State Bar E-News, August 2015

The Supreme Court of Virginia has adopted amended Rule of Professional Conduct 1.10: Imputed Disqualification: General Rule.

The Standing Committee on Legal Ethics has issued three Legal Ethics Opinions as final.

  • LEO 1880: Obligations of a court-appointed attorney to advise his indigent client of the right of appeal following conviction upon a guilty plea; duty of court-appointed attorney to follow the indigent client’s instruction to appeal following a guilty plea when the attorney believes the appeal would be frivolous.
  • LEO 1882: Conflict between criminal clients when one client expresses a desire to testify against the other.
  • LEO 1883: Ethical obligations of a lawyer for a chapter 7 bankruptcy petitioner in handling fixed fees advanced by the client.

Volunteers are needed to serve the Virginia State Bar’s boards and committees. The Nominating Committee will refer nominees to the VSB Council for consideration at its October meeting. 

The Special Committee on Access to Legal Services is seeking nominations for the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Pro Bono Award.

The MCLE interim report will be release this month. Now is the time to check your online record and plan your MCLE compliance. Apply now for any non-approved course that you have attended. The MCLE compliance deadline is October 31, 2015.

Save the date: the Special Committee on Access to Legal Services will hold its annual Pro Bono Conference and Celebration on October 21 at the Doubletree by Hilton Williamsburg Hotel.

Ballots for the open 4th Circuit seat on the VSB Council will be e-mailed to eligible voters on Monday, August 10, accompanied by statements of qualifications and the candidates’ pictures. Questions or requests for additional information should be directed to Asha Holloman at (804) 775-0551 or Holloman@vsb.org.

Updated: Aug 03, 2015
July 31, 2015

Court Adopts Amendment to Rule of Professional Conduct 1.10

Effective immediately, the Supreme Court of Virginia has adopted amended Rule 1.10: Imputed Disqualification: General Rule.

The amendment to Rule 1.10 regarding conflict of interest was approved by the Supreme Court of Virginia 07/31/2015 and is effective immediately. The approved rule change may be viewed here on Virginia State Bar's Rule Changes web page.

Updated: Jul 31, 2015
July 27, 2015

Legal Ethics Opinions 1880, 1882, and 1883 Are Final

The Standing Committee on Legal Ethics has issued three Legal Ethics Opinions as final.

LEO 1880: Obligations of a court-appointed attorney to advise his indigent client of the right of appeal following conviction upon a guilty plea; duty of court-appointed attorney to follow the indigent client’s instruction to appeal following a guilty plea when the attorney believes the appeal would be frivolous.

LEO 1882: Conflict between criminal clients when one client expresses a desire to testify against the other.

LEO 1883: Ethical obligations of a lawyer for a chapter 7 bankruptcy petitioner in handling fixed fees advanced by the client.

Updated: Jul 27, 2015
July 21, 2015

VSB Member Portal will be down Sunday, July 26

The Virginia State Bar website will be down from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 26, while service is performed on the Bank of America Building’s power grid. The VSB office is in the Bank of America Building in Richmond and the data center is on the power grid. All VSB systems will be unavailable during the power outage.

Updated: Jul 21, 2015
July 06, 2015

Virginia State Bar E-News, July 2015

Dues statements were mailed June 18. The annual dues must be received at the Virginia State Bar by July 31, or delinquency fees will be assessed. All active members must pay the Clients' Protection Fund assessment and provide a completed and signed Mandatory Certification Regarding Professional Liability Insurance, also by July 31. Separate fines will be assessed for unpaid dues, unpaid CPF fees, and incomplete liability insurance certifications. You may renew your membership, certify your liability insurance coverage, join VSB sections, and pay your dues online by going to Member Login on the VSB home page.  Corporate Counsel Registrants may also use this feature.

The Advisory Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Council of Virginia seeks comment on the proposed revision to Rule 1:5. The proposed changes seek to address three commonly occurring issues when a party is proceeding pro se or becomes pro se in the course of a case.

At its meeting on June 18, 2015, in Virginia Beach, the Virginia State Bar Council approved and sent to the Supreme Court of Virginia for its approval:

The 4th Circuit will be holding an election for one seat on Council, the VSB's governing body, for an unexpired term beginning September 1, 2015 and ending June 30, 2017. If you are interested in serving on Council, e-mail a nominating petition to the executive director, Karen A. Gould, elections@vsb.org. Petition must be signed by not fewer than ten other members eligible to vote in the circuit, and shall be accompanied by a statement of qualifications not exceeding one hundred and fifty words and a digital photo (headshot). Nominations must be filed in the office of the executive director on or before August 3.

Volunteers are needed to serve the Virginia State Bar’s boards and committees. The Nominating Committee will refer nominees to the VSB Council for consideration at its October meeting. 

The Access to Legal Services Committee of the Virginia State Bar is seeking nominations for the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Pro Bono Award.

Updated: Jul 06, 2015