Virginia State Bar

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Military Law

A Section of the Virginia State Bar.

Section News and Information

September 21, 2007

Board Minutes - January 5, 2007

Minutes of the 5 January 2007 Meeting
Military Law Section
Virginia State Bar

The meeting commenced at 10:08 a.m.  Present were Marcus Brinks, Chairperson, Richard Prevost, Andrea Brotherton, Neal Puckett, Edward Davis, Charles Allen, Diana Branscome, Karen Gould VA Bar President, Scott Prince, Jack Gately and Dolly Shaffner.  

1.    Old Business.

a.    The 13 October 2006 minutes having been previously submitted were approved as corrected.  

b.    The Section has set a target date of Late March to get desktop to the publisher.  Ned Davis is submitting and editing a paper for consideration.  Ned has emailed Mr. Gill Beck, who was stationed in Iraq as a Staff judge Advocate, for possible contribution of an article.  Marcus will provide a Chair’s column.  We will not have an electronic publication this time but will use a hard copy.  We should have a flyer for the May 2007 CLE.

c.    Personal property tax issue might be a good topic for an article.  We will ask Steve Chucala if he is interested in contributing.

d.    Current Membership.  Dolly Shaffner has provided a copy of current membership.  We are at 190 members. Dolly is making an adjustment to the flyer to broadly indicate what the Section is about.  Richard will help draft a short description.

e.    Regarding the property tax matter.  Ned reports that George Chabalewski has communicated with him and opined that the State Bar can ask for an Attorney General opinion.  George will look further into the issue.  Charley Allen asked whether he could approach the legislature as a private citizen.  Ned noted that Section XI, Policy Governing Legislative Activities does restrict certain legislative activities but does not prevent a private citizen from taking this action.

f.    Regarding CLE.   Neil Puckett states that Friday the fourth of May is available at Langley AFB in a conference room.  Neil will continue to work with the Langley AF JAG Office for coordination and with Dolly to facilitate the CLE credit.  Neil will also contact Mr. Gittens for organizing the events and instruction.  Charley said the key thing is getting the mailing out in advance.

g.    Membership flyer is provided by Dolly for consideration.  If there is a free membership it would be provided via a sticker thus not having to modify the form.  Diana suggested an email line on the form.  The fee waiver is a pilot for this year and will be reviewed at the Fall meeting for possible continuation next year.

h.    Marcus noted that the CLE meeting will be May 4th at Langley.  Our annual meeting is with VSB on 15 June and the luncheon will be at 1 p.m. at the Capri with meeting to follow.  Dolly will make logistical arrangements at the hotel.  

2.    New Business.

a.    Proposed budget is due 16 February.  Based upon last years costs Dolly produced a draft.  The Board considered the draft.  After discussion the draft was accepted as the proposed budget.  

b.    The next scheduled meeting will be May 4th 2007 at Langley AFB.

3.  Meeting was adjourned at 10:55 a.m.

Richard J. Prevost

Marcus Brinks

November 25, 2008

Encourage JAG Lawyers to Become Certified Under Rule 1A:6 to provide legal assistance

Additional Info

Rule 1A:6

Bar Council will consider in February whether to eliminate the $140 fee for the Professionalism Course for lawyers to become certified under this rule.

Encourage JAG Lawyers to Become Certified Under Rule 1A:6 to provide legal assistance to military families

Virginia has long recognized the privilege of active-duty Judge Advocate Officers stationed in Virginia, but not admitted to practice in Virginia, to provide legal assistance to their military clients and dependents under 10 U.S.C. § 1044. Effective January 14, 2003, the Supreme Court of Virginia enacted a Rule allowing such Judge Advocate Officers to provide additional services to their clients on and off of the military installations, including in-court representation. The full text of this Rule is set forth below. Judge Advocate Officers who make application to the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners and pay the necessary fees may be admitted to practice in Virginia in accordance with this Rule. The Rule generously waives Virginia State Bar dues for the first two years.

There is a new development that should further assist Judge Advocate Officers in obtaining admission under this Rule. The Virginia State Bar, subject to the Bar Council’s approval, is seeking a waiver of the $140 Professionalism Course fee for qualified Judge Advocate Officers. If the Bar Council approves this proposal, the costs of obtaining admission under this Rule will be substantially reduced. All Staff Judge Advocates and Chiefs of Legal Assistance stationed in Virginia are encouraged to inform their Legal Assistance Officers of this development, and encourage them further to seek admission under this Rule to help their aggrieved clients.

February 6, 2009

Plan for VSB and Military Law Section To Assist With the Provision - Military Legal Services In Va


January 30, 2009

Edward L. Davis
Bar Counsel, Virginia State Bar
Chair, Military Law Section

The following is a summary of work to date with Virginia military practitioners and the Virginia State Bar Military Law Section, and a plan for meeting two objectives:

  1. Assisting those uniformed Judge Advocate Officers stationed in Virginia, but not admitted to practice here, in obtaining limited admission under Rule 1A:6 of the Rules of Court, enabling them to provide in-court representation for aggrieved military clients in certain civil cases authorized by the Rule.
  2. Seeking Virginia lawyers willing to help military clients on a reduced fee or pro bono basis.

I. Assisting Judge Advocate Officers In Obtaining Limited Admission Under Rule 1A:6


I surveyed the Legal Assistance and Client Services offices at Virginia Military installations about what the Virginia State Bar could do to help. I also raised the issue with the Military Law Section, which discussed it at its last meeting on January 9, 2009. The following points summarize the issues and conclusions:

  • Limited admission under this Rule would enable Judge Advocate Officers to appear in court to conclude cases, or leverage more equitable results for their clients when opposing parties know that they are able to appear in court.
  • The Naval Legal Services, for example, wishes to avail itself of this Rule for these reasons, and has some potential candidates.
  • Virginia Judge Advocate Officers, however, are not able to avail themselves of Rule 1A:6 because of the costs.
  • The military services are lawfully able to pay the Professionalism Course fee out of unit training funds.
  • By letter, dated December 2, 2008, the Supreme Court of Virginia reduced the Professionalism Course fee from $140 to $70 for candidates for admission under Rule 1A:6. 1
  • The Government cannot lawfully pay the remaining fees (character and fitness examination) needed for limited admission under Rule 1A:6 because such fees are considered licensing fees not payable by the federal government under pertinent law.
  • Candidates for admission under Rule 1A:6 are more junior officers and not able to pay the $250 fee.
  • The $250 character and fitness examination fee represents a reduction in overall costs following the elimination of associated administrative costs, and cannot be waived.
  • One potential alternative is for the military to seek a grant from the Virginia Law Foundation or other sources to pay the $250 fee.
  • This alternative may not be available, however, because of the military Joint Ethics Regulation, which prohibits Government employees from receiving funds from “outside sources.” 2


  • That the Virginia State Bar offer to help the military (the Naval Legal Services, for now) locate appropriate foundations, and offer advice and guidance on applying for grants to defray the $250 character and fitness examination fee, if such is considered lawful by the federal government.

II. Seeking Virginia Lawyers To Assist Military Clients On a Reduced Fee or Pro Bono Basis


There are military members, retirees and dependents in Virginia who could benefit from legal services beyond those available from the uniformed Judge Advocate Officers at the military installations. Typical scenarios include landlord-tenant disputes or other commercial disputes handled by uniformed officers to a point, but that cannot be concluded successfully because there is no threat of final in-court representation for the aggrieved client. A Virginia lawyer being available to conclude such cases in court would help to leverage more equitable resolutions for such military members.

Potential clients are not eligible for Virginia legal aid or related services because they are not residents of Virginia or their incomes exceed the threshold for such services. Typically, anyone whose rank exceeds the E-2 pay grade (Private, for example) is not eligible for legal aid.

There is also a referral program for military members through the American Bar Association, the military Pro Bono Project. This service utilizes Virginia attorneys who have graciously volunteered their services. For such services, the legal assistance office must make a referral to the ABA, which will then select an attorney. Clients with a pay grade higher than E-6 (Staff Sergeant, for example), however, are not eligible for this service. Nonetheless, clients in these pay grades need to avail themselves of such services and frequently cannot afford outside counsel.

The Military Law Section and the legal assistance representatives present at the January 9, 2009 meeting felt uniformly that it would be a tremendous help to recruit additional attorneys from the VSB willing to volunteer their services to assist needy military members, family members and dependents, on a pro bono basis, with some limited in-court representation in cases that have come to fruition, but for which the uniformed legal assistance officers are not permitted to appear in court because they are not admitted to practice in Virginia.

The Military Law Section suggests that the VSB post a solicitation for volunteers willing to be available for such client services and limited in-court representation. A list of such names could be provided to the legal assistance offices at Virginia military installations, and maintained by the Virginia Lawyer Referral Service as well.

The members of the services present at the meeting all felt that this would help tremendously, because they would be able to make the referrals directly without going through the ABA, and would not be confined by the income limitations of the ABA program and legal aid.


  • That the Virginia State Bar publish on its web page and in its publications a solicitation for attorneys willing to help military clients on a reduced fee or pro bono basis.
  • That these messages encourage local law firms to participate in this pro-bono program.
  • That the Virginia State Bar encourage local and specialty bars to further promote, assist, and participate in this program.
  • That the Military Law Section promote this program further in its annual program and newsletter.
  • That the Military Law Section compile this information into a list and furnish it to the legal assistance offices at Virginia military installations.
  • Lawyers volunteering for this service must be eligible to participate in the VSB Lawyer Referral Service.

Attorneys who wish to volunteer may contact:

Christopher M. Dunne, Esquire
U.S. Coast Guard Judge Advocate General’s Office
2100 2nd Street SW, Room 1513
Washington, D.C. 20593
(202) 372-3782

Note: This service is not yet available to potential clients. More information will be posted at when it is available.



1 This was in response to a written request, dated October 3, 2008, from the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for Military Personnel to waive all fees and costs associated

2 I asked Naval Legal Services to research and provide an opinion as to whether there may be an exemption for this needy cause.

March 25, 2011

New Website Helping Veterans with Legal Problems

The first website in the nation to focus exclusively on federal legal rights and resources important to veterans is off to a robust start, with visitors from all 50 states and 77 countries worldwide, including Iraq and

The website——was created by Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Portland, Maine, a nonprofit legal aid program funded by the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). The website was launched last November as part of an LSC
initiative to expand access to legal services for veterans. In the 15 weeks since the launch, the website has recorded about 79,000 page views, with almost 8,000 in the past two weeks as traffic continues to grow at the site.

Press Release (.pdf)

August 15, 2012

Law Related Resources for Veterans

Active Duty & Retired Military Personnel are eligible for pro bono assistance or a reduced fee through the VSB Lawyer Referral/ Pro bono Project.   

To inquire,  please call 1 800 552-7977.

ABA Military Pro Bono Project  - information for attorneys and firms who would like to provide pro bono assistance to the military

Virginia State Bar Lawyer Referral/Military Law Section Program

December 5, 2013

Bylaws under review

Bylaws - Red line version (.pdf)

Bylaws - old version (.pdf)

February 23, 2016

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 for the event and find additional information here.

June 1, 2016

2016 Amendment to the Manual for Courts-Martial

Executive Order 13730 of May 20, 2016
2016 Amendment to the Manual for Courts-Martial (.pdf)

June 1, 2016

Code 20 Sidebar - New Executive Order Updating MCM

Code 20 Sidebar (.pdf) - New Executive Order Updating MCM

July 18, 2017

New Board of Governors Elected for 2017-2018

New Board of Governors elected for 2017-2018.

August 3, 2017

2016-2017 Military Law Section Annual Report

The 2016-2017 Military Law Section Annual Report is now available.

August 9, 2017

Office of the Attorney General Creates Legal Resource for Military Personnel

The Office of the Attorney General under Mark R. Herring has created a new publication called the Military & Veteran Legal Resource Guide to assist Virginia service members, military families, and veterans with understanding the legal issues, rights, and resources they have as current and former members of the US armed forces.

Alexis N. Stackhouse, chair of the Virginia State Bar Military Law section said, “This guide recognizes the unique legal challenges often faced by service members and their families and provides an excellent overview of existing protections, benefits, and most importantly--assistance and help.”

The 40-page booklet was presented on Friday, August 4 at a ceremony at the General Douglas MacArthur Memorial Visitor’s Center in Norfolk. The guide is available at

Caption: New Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Carlos Hopkins with Alexis N. Stackhouse (holding the guide), and Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring at the ceremony on August 4, 2017.