October 21, 2008
Council Rejects Mandatory Insurance, Raises Assessments, Endorses Opt-Out Member Directory
The Virginia State Bar Council, during its October 17, 2008, meeting in Staunton, opposed a proposal to make legal malpractice insurance mandatory for private-practice attorneys. The vote was 60–11.
The decision ended a months-long debate. The council voted to commend the work of the Special Committee on Lawyer Malpractice Insurance and Darrel Tillar Mason, who headed the mandatory insurance study and developed the proposal.
The council unanimously endorsed increases in the administrative charges assessed against attorneys who have been sanctioned or who are petitioning for reinstatement. The changes are:
- Subcommittee cases: from $200 to $500;
- District committee cases: from $500 to $750;
- Disciplinary Board and three-judge court cases: from $750 to $1,000;
- Reinstatement cases: from $750 to $1,500.
The charges reflect the increased cost of administering the disciplinary system and the VSB clerk’s office. They will go into effect immediately.
For more information, see http://www.vsb.org/site/news/item/council-raises-fee-assessments/.
The council also unanimously elected to list all members of the VSB who are Active Members in good standing, including Virginia Corporate Counsel, in the online Member Directory, unless a lawyer opts out of being included. Only names, business addresses, and telephone numbers — not e-mail addresses — will be in the directory, which can be searched by attorney last name on the public website.
Before the Member Directory is revised, VSB President Manuel A. Capsalis will send a letter to each member explaining the new policy and giving members time to opt out. An opt-out feature will be available on the members-only area of the VSB website.
The VSB posted an opt-in Member Directory in April 2007. To date, only 3,674 of 27,156 active members in good standing have opted to participate. The VSB has received complaints from persons who have found the directory of limited usefulness. Bars in twenty-nine other states provide comprehensive public attorney directories online.