Professional Guidelines

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

The Virginia State Bar

Professional Guidelines

13-4 Establishment of District Committees

  1. Creation of District Committees.  Council shall appoint a sufficient number of District Committees to carry out the purposes of this Paragraph.  District Committees shall be established in geographical areas consisting of one or more judicial circuits.  In creating the District Committee areas, Council shall give due consideration to Attorney population and the community of interest among different judicial circuits within a District Committee area.  Each District Committee shall consist of ten, or in the discretion of Council, 20, 30 or 40 members. Three members of a ten-member District Committee, six members of a 20-member District Committee, nine members of a 30-member District Committee, and 12 members of a 40-member District Committee shall be nonlawyers.  All other members shall be active members of the Bar.  Former members of a District Committee may serve on a District Committee Subcommittee or participate in a District Committee hearing whenever the District Committee Chair determines that such service is necessary for the orderly administration of the District Committee's work.
  2. Panel Quorum.  A Panel quorum shall consist of five or more persons.  No member of the Subcommittee that considered a Complaint pursuant to subparagraph 13-15 may sit on the Panel that hears the Complaint.  One person assigned to a Panel should be a current or former nonlawyer member of a District Committee.  If the scheduled nonlawyer is unable to attend, and if an alternate nonlawyer is not reasonably available, participation by a nonlawyer member shall not be required in a proceeding if a quorum is otherwise present.  The action of a majority of a quorum shall be the action of the Panel. For the exclusive purposes of considering an Agreed Disposition, pursuant to subparagraph 13-7.A.9, a Panel may act in a meeting in person or through any means of communication by which all five members participating may simultaneously hear each other during the meeting.
  3. Geographic Criteria.  Each member of a District Committee shall be a resident of or have his or her office in the District Committee area for which such member is appointed. Members shall, to the extent practicable, be appointed from different geographical sections of their districts.
  4. Term of Office.  Council shall appoint members of each District Committee for such terms of service as will allow for the retirement from the District Committee, or completion of the existing terms, of one-third of the District Committee membership at the end of each fiscal year.  A District Committee member's term shall be for three years, and, upon completion of such term, such member is eligible for appointment to a second successive three-year term.  A member who has served two full successive terms of three years each on a District Committee shall not be eligible to serve again until one year after the expiration of the second term.
  5. Qualifications of Members.  Before nominating any individual for membership on a District Committee, the Council members making such recommendation shall first determine that the nominee is willing to serve on the District Committee and will conscientiously discharge the responsibility as a member of the District Committee.  Council members making the nominations shall also obtain a statement from the nominees, in writing, that the nominees are willing to serve on the District Committee, if elected.  In order to be considered as a potential appointee to a District Committee, each potential appointee shall execute the following:  (1) a waiver of confidentiality with respect to his or her Disciplinary Record and any pending Complaints and a release allowing production of his or her Disciplinary Record and any pending Complaints from any jurisdiction for purposes of the appointment process; and (2) an authorization for the Bar to conduct a criminal records check of all jurisdictions for any conviction of a Crime and provide the results to the members of Council and the staff of the Bar for purposes of the appointment process.  No member of Council shall be a member of a District Committee; however, this rule shall not apply to the chair or president of any conference of the Virginia State Bar, such as the Conference of Local Bar Associations, Diversity Conference, Senior Lawyers Conference, or Young Lawyers Conference, who are ex-officio members of Council. An ex-officio member of Council who is also a member of a District Committee shall not vote on the selection or confirmation of nominees for any District Committee.
  6. Persons Ineligible for Appointment.  Any potential appointee shall be ineligible for appointment to a District Committee if such potential appointee has: (1) ever been convicted in any jurisdiction of a Crime; (2) ever committed any criminal act that reflects adversely on the potential appointee's honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a member of a District Committee; (3) a Disciplinary Record in any jurisdiction consisting of a Disbarment, Revocation, Suspension imposed at any time or Public Reprimand imposed within the ten years immediately preceding the proposed appointment date; or (4) a Disciplinary Record in any jurisdiction, imposed within the five years immediately preceding the proposed appointment date, consisting of Private Discipline or an Admonition, except for a de minimis dismissal or a dismissal for exceptional circumstances.  The Standing Committee on Lawyer Discipline shall have the sole discretion to determine whether a de minimis dismissal or a dismissal for exceptional circumstances shall disqualify a potential appointee.
  7. Interim Vacancies.  Whenever a vacancy occurs on a District Committee, the Executive Committee may fill the vacancy.  Bar Counsel or a majority of the members of a District Committee may request the Executive Committee to declare that a District Committee position held by any particular District Committee member has become vacant when, in the judgment of Bar Counsel or the Committee majority, such member has become, or has been for any reason, unavailable for or delinquent in the conduct of the District Committee's business.  Similarly, upon request of Bar Counsel, the Executive Committee shall have the power to declare such vacancy. Before such vacancy is declared, the particular District Committee member shall be afforded notice and a reasonable opportunity to be heard.

The amendments effective July 16, 2021revised Paragraph 13 to promote greater fairness, efficiency, consistency, and transparency in bar proceedings.

The amendments effective December 1, 2019revised Paragraph 13-4 to clarify language regarding persons ineligible for appointment in the Disciplinary System.

The amendments effective August 21, 2015, revised Paragraph 13-4 E. regarding establishment of district committees.

The amendments effective February 17, 2011, revised Paragraph 13 regarding multijurisdictional practice.

Updated: July 14, 2021