Virginia State Bar

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

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Local Government

A Section of the Virginia State Bar.

Section News and Information

April 10, 2017

Spring 2017 Journal

The Spring 2017 Journal is available to members under the Publications link.

May 3, 2017

Award of 2017 Local Government Fellowship

First awarded in 2013, the Local Government Fellowship annually recognizes outstanding Virginia law students who will work full-time during the summer at a local government attorney’s office within the Commonwealth. The Board of Governors is delighted to announce that Callie Gibson been selected as this year’s Local Government Fellow. Her personal statement demonstrates in part why she was selected:

It was quite early in my college career that I began to spend my summers in legal internships. I loved seeing the ways in which our laws affect people every day, and the idea that I could help people better understand them. I loved the endless possibilities of types of cases and clients. I tried out big firms, small firms, courthouses and legislative offices. When I finally found my calling, I wanted to be sure beyond a shadow of a doubt. As I have learned more about the law, both in school and through my internship experience, it has become more evident that the best way to affect change is at the local level. Problems that nationally seem so abstract and too big to take on suddenly become concrete, familiar, and manageable. The " environment" becomes the river where local children play. The police force" becomes the campus officer that stayed with you until 1 a.m. while you waited for the tow truck. The " education system" became the Spanish teacher that always stayed after school to help students earn a passing grade. These are the people that we can, and should be working with in order to see real, positive change in the community. . . . I have never wanted to work in a high rise with a corner office. I belong in a smaller, more personal setting where my community, colleagues and I can learn from one another, with motivations greater than our salaries.

Callie is a rising 3L student at the University of Richmond T.C. Williams School of Law. She will spend the summer interning at the Henrico County Attorney’s Office.

Applications for next year’s fellowship will open in February 2018. More information about the VSB Local Government Fellowship is available at the section’s website.

This year's Fact Sheet and Application may be reviewed for informational purposes. 

September 20, 2017

2017 Local Government Section Annual Report

Charles Eric Young, Chairman, Chairman

Membership

 As of September 1, 2016 had 625 members.

Budget

 The budget for fiscal year 2016-2017 was 9,740.  The Section spent $9,877.48 and collected $9,774.00 during 2016-2017 accruing a budget deficit of $137.48. The deficit is the result of the Board of Governors allocating an additional $500.00 to the Fellowship Program and the travel reimbursements exceeded the expected expenditures.  However, the Board decided to award the fellowship at the planned amount rather than deducting $137.38 from the student's stipend.

Journal of Local Government Law

The Board published three issues of the Journal during 2016-2017 and worked to produce an expanded issue in the summer of 2017.  The three journals published included articles on the state of Zoning Law after EMAC, LLC v. County of Hanover and on Proffers after the amendments to Section 15.2-2303.4.  Both of which have profound impacts on land use regulation in the Commonwealth.  The Journal also included an article on Private Activity bonds.  Perhaps the most widely read Article addressed the ramifications of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in U.S. v. McDonnell.

 The Board also dedicated time and effort to an issue of the Journal expected in summer 2017, Counterintuitive Issues in Local Government Law.  The entire issue will be dedicated to fundamental issues of local government law that are inconsistent with most rules of law controlling non-governmental parties.  The Board embraced the fact that in many ways the local government client is unique and accepted the challenge of refreshing the recollection of members and non members of the section.  For example, respecting the separation of powers, Virginia courts traditionally apply the fairly debatable standard when reviewing local government decisions.  Also, there are many special statutory limitations periods applicable to claims against local governments.  Other articles will address the breadth of Sovereign Immunity and the limits of Dillon's Rule.  The Board plans to share this article, via email, with all Judicial members of the bar, many of whom seldom encounter the local government as a party in litigation.

  By Laws

 The Board reviewed and revised the Section's bylaws for the first time since 1995, excising many provisions regarding the initial election of officers and establishment of the Board.  At the same time the revisions focused on the future.  For example the revisions replaced the term "print" with "publish" to take into account the fact that most communications are or will be accomplished via email.

Fellowship Expanded

 Several years earlier the Board of Governors established a fellowship for rising third year law students who are summer associates for local government attorneys.  The Board recognized that public employment does not offer the same pay as private employment and saw that as an impediment to local government attorneys being able to attract the best and brightest; at the same time financial pressures on law students inhibit their willingness to experience the practice of local government law. 

 The Board continued the fellowship during 2016-2017 and was able to increase the stipend from $4,000.00 to $4,500.00.  The fellowship committee, led by Board Secretary Lesa Yeatts, worked very hard to winnow a larger than expected pool of qualified applicants to a single student.

 Showcase CLE

 The Section co-produced a showcase CLE at the annual meeting.  With the help of Board member Andrew McRoberts, the Section joined with the Real Property Law Section to produce an entertaining and informing seminar on the affects of amendments to Section 15.2-2303.4 of the Code governing proffers.  Previously land developers who required rezoning of their property to accomplish their development could be asked by the locality to make improvements to local infrastructure which was not directly impacted by the proposed development in exchange for the rezoning.  The revision requires that the locality may only ask for improvements to infrastructure directly impacted by the proposed development.  The CLE included well reasoned, energetic debate between counsel for local government and counsel for developers, regarding whether the revisions actually will accomplish their intended purpose.

 New Members

 The Board changed its practice of having only Board members on the nominating committee.  Instead, the Board enlisted three Section members who were not Board members to serve on the five member committee.  The result was a strong slate of new members to replace the unusual number of members who were leaving the Board due to term limits.

The new members are Dawn Figueiras of Bristol, Virginia, Ken Golski of Loundoun County,  Paul Mahoney of Roanoke, T.W. Bruno of Richmond, and Andrew Painter of Leesburg.  The committee and the Board sought to preserve the geographic balance among the membership, having members from Prince William County,  Fairfax, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and two from Richmond already on the Board.

New Officers

 The Section continued its practice of advancing the Vice Chair to Chair for the following year.  Eric Gregory will be the Chair for 2017-2018.  Unfortunately, the current Secretary Lesa Yeatts was not eligible for re-election to the Board due to term limitations and, thus, could not be advanced to Vice Chair.  However, the Section was fortunate that Jan Proctor of Chesapeake agreed to serve as Vice Chair and Rebecca Kubin of Virginia Beach agreed to serve as Secretary, both for 2017-2018. 

For the complete 79th Annual Report of the Virginia State Bar, please click here