June 09, 2023

Local and Specialty Bar Associations Receive 2023 Awards of Merit

The Conference of Local and Specialty Bar Associations has recognized six individual bars with eight projects between them and two multi-bar projects across the Commonwealth with Awards of Merit.

This competition is designed to recognize outstanding projects and programs of local and specialty bar associations; share successful programming ideas and resources with all bar associations; encourage greater service to the bench, bar, and public; and inform the public about some of the excellent work of local and specialty bars and the legal profession in general.

This year’s Awards of Merit winners are:

Loudoun Chapter, Virginia Women Attorneys Association (VWAA)

Wellness Retreat

Members of the Loudoun Chapter of the VWAA gathered at Cacapon State Park in West Virginia for a wellness retreat with the goal of deepening professional and personal ties and recharging physically and emotionally. The weekend featured a CLE program, yoga and meditation sessions, a potluck dinner, a dance lesson, and more.

Roanoke Chapter, Virginia Women Attorneys Association (VWAA)

Meet ‘N Greet Your Legislators

In response to the fact that a woman attorney has not been appointed as a circuit court judge in 21 years in the 23rd Circuit, the Roanoke Chapter of the VWAA invited legislators—who recommend candidates for judicial openings—representing the area to come socialize with bar members who are interested in appointments to the circuit court bench. The chapter also created a booklet with the headshots and biographies of 23 women attorneys for the legislators to reference.

The Alexandria Bar Association

Expungement Clinic

The goal of the Expungement Clinic was to assist the public in obtaining expungements from their criminal records at no cost to them thanks to the sponsorships and community partnerships coordinated by The Alexandria Bar Association. The clinic took place in one day and processed the expungements of over 50 charges.

Charlottesville-Albemarle Bar Association (CABA)

The Afghanistan Project

Through its Volunteer Lawyer Program (VLP), which provides a structure for pro bono attorneys to deliver free legal services for their neighbors, CABA undertook an effort to file more than 100 humanitarian parole petitions for Afghans in the community seeking to evacuate family members from Afghanistan in the wake of U.S. withdrawal from the country in 2021. Since the withdrawal, CABA has continued to support the local Afghan population by finalizing Special Immigrant Visas and evaluating asylum cases.

Roanoke Bar Association (RBA) — 3 awards

Welcome Baskets

The RBA partnered with Roanoke City Public Schools’ (RCPS) McKinney-Vento Program, which supports students and their families who are experiencing homelessness, to provide welcome baskets for families transitioning from homelessness to housing. These baskets included basic household items such as dishes, flatware, cups, toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning products, and laundry detergent.

Shine & Dine Dinner

In another partnership with RCPS, the RBA organized a catered luncheon at a local venue for graduating students in Roanoke City who are or have been homeless. The RBA covered all event costs and had 20 members volunteer to work the event for 60 student participants.

Courthouse Renovation

When the first floor of the Oliver W. Hill Justice Center (Roanoke City Courthouse) began renovation in 2022, the RBA decided to have the Roanoke Law Foundation—the public service and philanthropic arm of the bar association—assist in financing updates to the waiting room of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, clerk’s offices, and security area. The rooms were completed as planned and on time.

Virginia Mountain/Valley Lawyers Alliance (VMVLA)

Day of Service 2022

Held in connection with its Annual Meeting, VMVLA’s Day of Service 2022 offered attorneys the opportunity to be trained in preparing wills for veterans and to develop a presentation with civics and government teachers for local classrooms on the function of the rule of law in American society (a program known as the Rule of Law Project).

Russell County Bar Association, in association with:
Virginia Mountain/Valley Lawyers Alliance
28th Circuit Criminal Defense Bar
Tazewell County Bar Association
Washington County Bar Association
Buchanan County Bar Association
City of Bristol Bar Association

(1 award)

2023 Law Day Program

The Russell County Bar Association spearheaded this year’s Law Day programming in Southwest Virginia and, with the support of six other bar associations, was able to collect more blood donations and help more people through pro bono clinics than the year before. The Law Day events took place in five cities in the region—Christiansburg, Abingdon, Grundy, Wytheville, and Lebanon—and each event facilitated access to resources such as veteran services, legal aid, agencies on aging, community action agencies, the department of social services, law enforcement, victim witness advocates, and more.

Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association (MRWBA) and Hill-Tucker Bar Association

Freedom’s Path

In honor of Black History Month, the MRWBA, in partnership with the Hill-Tucker Bar Association—one of the oldest historically African American bar associations in the Commonwealth—and in conjunction with Soulidifly Productions, presented an advanced screening of the film Freedom’s Path. This film takes place during the Civil War and demonstrates the dominant role Black people played in their own fight for freedom. The screening raised money for the Mid-Atlantic Black Law Students Association and featured a discussion with the film’s producer, B.K. Fulton. 

The CLSBA provides information on these projects to other groups that want to consider similar programs. For information, contact Paulette J. Davidson at [email protected] or (804) 775-0521.

The award recipients will be recognized at the CLSBA Annual Meeting and Breakfast on Friday, June 16, 2023, at the Hilton Garden Inn, Virginia Beach.