News and Information
June 23, 2015

Highlights of the June 18, 2015, Virginia State Bar Council Meeting

At its meeting on June 18, 2015, in Virginia Beach, the Virginia State Bar Council heard the following significant reports and took the following actions:

Amendment to Rules of Professional Conduct 5.5, Comment [1a]

The council unanimously approved the following proposed amendments to Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5, Comment [1a]: Unauthorized Practice of Law; Multijurisdictional Practice of Law. The proposed amendment clarifies that the rule applies to any lawyer, not simply lawyers authorized by the Supreme Court of Virginia or its rules to practice law in Virginia. The rule prohibits a lawyer from practicing law in a jurisdiction in violation of the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction, or from assisting another in doing so. The amendment allows for non-Virginia lawyers who commit misconduct in Virginia to be disciplined under this rule.

 

Rule 8.3(e)

The council unanimously approved the following proposed amendment to rule 8.3(e): Regarding self-reporting of misconduct. The proposed amendment requires an attorney who has been disciplined in another jurisdiction for a violation of the rules of professional conduct in that jurisdiction, convicted of a felony, or convicted of a crime involving theft, fraud, extortion, bribery or perjury, or an attempt to do so, to report the matter in writing to the clerk of the disciplinary system of the Virginia State Bar not later than sixty days following entry of any final order or judgment of conviction or discipline. The current rule requires attorneys to report such matters to the bar but sets forth no deadlines, means of reporting, or persons to whom they should report.

 

Paragraph 13-11

The council unanimously approved proposed amendments to the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, Part 6, § IV, Paragraph 13-11: Limited Right to Discovery, regarding disclosure of exculpatory evidence. The proposed amendments state that bar counsel shall comply with the duty to disclose exculpatory evidence regardless of other rules that proscribe such disclosure on the basis that the information is confidential and shall not be disclosed. The proposed amendments also allow for notice by regular mail to attorneys and complainants affected by the disclosure of otherwise confidential information pertaining to them, unless the bar counsel determines that giving notice of the disclosure of confidential information will prejudice a disciplinary investigation.   

 

Paragraph 13-25

The council unanimously approved proposed amendments to the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, Part 6, IV, Paragraph 13-25: Board Proceedings for Reinstatement. These proposed amendments affect the procedures governing the reinstatement of attorneys whose licenses have been revoked. The proposed amendments streamline the rule by consolidating into one place all of the threshold requirements for submitting petitions for reinstatement. The proposed amendments also make these threshold requirements a condition precedent to consideration of a petition for reinstatement. Further, they provide for reinstatement petitions to be filed initially not with the Supreme Court of Virginia but with the clerk of the disciplinary system to determine whether the threshold requirements have been met. The proposed amendments also fully incorporate the so-called Hiss factors that the hearing panel may consider in determining whether to recommend reinstatement, rather than incorporating by reference the case that sets forth those factors. Finally, the proposed amendments consolidate into one place the steps that the hearing panel must follow upon making its determination.        

 

Proposed Amendment to Bylaws to Eliminate Online Elections

By a vote of 59-6, a motion to amend the bylaws of the Virginia State Bar, Article III, Election of President-Elect, Sec.4(b), to eliminate online elections for president-elect was defeated.

 

Budget

The council approved a $14.6 million budget for 2015-16. This is an increase of $836,000 over the 2014-15 operating budget. It includes a 2 percent raise for VSB employees and a compression adjustment of $65 per year up to thirty years for employees with five or more years of service, paralleling increases for state employees.

Updated: Jun 23, 2015