News and Information
April 29, 2011

Supreme Court’s Lelia Hopper Receives 2011 Family Law Service Award


Lelia Baum Hopper, director of the Court Improvement Project of the Supreme Court of Virginia’s Office of the Executive Secretary, has been recognized with the Family Law Service Award, presented by the Virginia State Bar’s Family Law Section.

The award recognizes people and organizations that have improved family, domestic relations, or juvenile law in Virginia. It was presented April 28 at the section’s Advanced Family Law Seminar in Richmond.

Hopper oversees development and implementation of best practices for managing and resolving cases of child abuse, child neglect, and foster care.

“[W]e have come to know Lelia Hopper as probably the most knowledgeable and influential person in the Commonwealth in the field of child dependency law,” Judge William W. Sharp wrote in a nomination letter on behalf of the Virginia Council of Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judges.

Hopper educates judges and attorneys about dependency law and other juvenile justice matters. Her educational outreach also includes social services, law enforcement, medicine, mental health, and education. She works with the General Assembly on child-related legislation, and she oversees the court’s training and certification of guardians ad litem for children and incapacitated adults.

The Best Practice Court Program, through which 37 Virginia courts receive training and develop community teams to deal more effectively with child dependency issues, “has had an enormous impact in improving the process, for care and services, of dependent children,” Sharp wrote.

Before joining the Court staff in 1989, Hopper was a deputy secretary of human resources under Governor Charles S. Robb and an attorney for the Virginia Division of Legislative Services.

Hopper has an undergraduate degree from the University of Richmond’s Westhampton College and a law degree from the College of William and Mary, where she has served on the adjunct faculty for the juvenile law clinic.

Updated: Apr 29, 2011