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Proposed | revisions to Paragraph 3 regarding membership statuses. Comments due February 7, 2020.

The Virginia State Bar proposes amending the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia in order to, inter alia, clarify requirements for membership statuses, address the need for separate membership statuses for retired and disabled members, add an email address of record requirement, and eliminate ambiguous terminology.

Inspection and Comment

The proposed changes may be inspected below or at the offices of the Virginia State Bar between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Any individual, business, or other entity may file written comments in support of or in opposition to the proposed changes with Karen A. Gould, executive director of the Virginia State Bar, not later than February 7, 2020. Comments may be submitted by mail to 1111 East Main Street, Suite 700, Richmond, Virginia 23219-0026 or by email to publiccomment@vsb.org.

The proposed amendments are as follows. Underlined text is new language and strikethrough text indicates text being removed.


Proposed Revisions to Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia

Part 6 Section IV, Para 3.

Effective, January 1, 2019

Proposed February 2020

3. Classes of MembershipMembers

Members of the Virginia State Bar shall beare divided into fivesix classes, namely: (a) Active Members, (b) Associate Members, (c) Judicial Members, (d) Disabled andMembers, (e) Retired Members; and (ef) Emeritus Members.  Each member shallmust submit in writing to the membership department of the Virginia State Bar an address of record and email address of record, either of which willmay be used for allofficial membership andor regulatory purposes, including official mailings and by the Virginia State Bar, and the address of record which is to be used for notices of disciplinary proceedings.  If a member’s address of record is not a physical address where process can be served, the member must also submit in writing to the membership departmentVirginia State Bar an alternate physical address where process can be served. The alternate address is personal information and shallwill not be disclosed pursuant to Section 2.2-3704, Code of Virginia. Members have a duty promptly to notify the membership departmentVirginia State Bar in writing of any changes in either thetheir address of record, email address of record, or any alternate address. Members, by request, may have their names and addresses removed from the Virginia State Bar's membership list when it is distributed for other than official purposes. 

(a) Active Members—Those attorneyslawyers who are admitted to practice law in this state the Commonwealth of Virginia and who are engaged in the practice of law, either full-time or part-time, salaried or non-salaried, shall be active members of good standing, qualify for active membership in the Virginia State Bar.  Those attorneys who are admitted to practice law in this state, but who are not presently so engaged,They may acquirebecome active statusmembers by paying the dues prescribed for active members and satisfying anyall other required membership obligationsregulatory requirements.  Each active member’s address of record will establish the judicial circuit in which the member is entitledauthorized to vote and hold office in the Virginia State Bar.  For purposes of this subparagraph, “good standing” means the lawyer has satisfied all requirements for membership as established by these Rules, and has no current disciplinary or administrative suspension.

(b) Associate Members Associate members are entitled to all the privileges of active members except that they cannot practice law, vote nor hold office (other than as members of committees) in the Virginia State Bar. Those attorneyslawyers who have been admitted to practice law in the courts of this state but who are not presently so engagedCommonwealth of Virginia, and all persons on the law faculties of any law schools oflocated in this state that have been approved by the American Bar Association, may become associate members of the Virginia State Bar upon application to the secretaryVirginia State Bar and payment of the required dues.  Associate members shall be entitled to all the privileges of active members except that they may not practice law, vote or hold office (other than as members of committees) in the Virginia State Bar.

(c) Judicial Members—All full-time judges ofpresiding in the StateCommonwealth of Virginia (including federal judges), other officers qualified but forbidden by statute to practice law, and all retired judges who are receiving retirement benefits and are prohibited from appearing as counsel in any case in any court of the Commonwealth under section 51.1-309 of the Code of Virginia shall constitute the Judicial Membership are judicial members of the Virginia State Bar.  They shall are not required to pay no dues but shall beare entitled to all of the privileges of active members except that they may notcannot vote ornor hold office in the Virginia State Bar, and shallmust comply with any statutory limitations regulating their practice of law.

(d) Disabled and Retired Members—Any member of the Virginia State Bar, upon attaining the age of 70 or on the basis of a permanent disability, may submit to the executive director of the Virginia State Bar a written request to be transferred to the disabled and retired class of membership. Members who are electingseek this status based on a permanent disability must submit adequate medical and/or psychological documentation with the request. Members qualifyingapproved for transfer to the disabled and retired class shallare not be entitledrequired to pay dues, are not authorized to practice law. Further, such members shall not be eligible to, and cannot vote or hold office in the Virginia State Bar.

(1) A disabled or retired member who has not filed a declaration (endorsed by the member and member’s counsel or guardian ad litem, as applicable) with the Clerk of the Disciplinary System and the Virginia State Bar’s Membership Department affirming that the member will not seek a transfer from the Disabled and Retireddisabled class of membership pursuant to Paragraph 13-23may not seek reinstatement to any other class of membership.

(2) A disabled member who has not filed a declaration as described in subparagraph (d)(1) may submit a petition to the executive director in writing for reinstatementtransfer to active or, associate, retired or emeritus membership and state in the petition each circumstance that has changed since the member elected disabled or retired status.membership. Adequate medical and/or psychological documentation must be submitted with the petition showingdemonstrating that the member is fit and capable of practicing law. If there are any misconduct complaints or proceedings pending in any jurisdiction when the executive director receives a petition for reinstatement, or if the member appearsthere is any concern regarding the member’s fitness or capacity to suffer from a disabilitypractice law, the executive director shallmust defer consideration of the petition until the misconduct or disability issues areissue is resolved. The Once reviewed by the executive director, the Executive Committee of the Virginia State Bar shall considerwill review and act on any such petition, taking into account the recommendation of the executive director.  The Executive Committee may deny a petition for reinstatement if the member ishas been publicly disciplined in any jurisdiction or is determined to have a disability raising a serious question as to the member’s fitness or capacity to practice law.  If the Executive Committee approves the petition, the member shallwill be returnedtransferred to active or, associate or emeritus status conditioned upon payment of the appropriate dues, satisfaction of any other required membership obligationsregulatory requirements, and payment of any outstanding financial obligations to the Virginia State Bar. Medical and/or psychological information provided pursuant to this subparagraph (d) is confidential and shallwill not be disclosed by the Virginia State Bar.

(e) Emeritus Members— Those attorneys(e) Retired Members—Any member of the Virginia State Bar, upon attaining 70 years of age, may submit to the Virginia State Bar a written request to be transferred to the retired class of membership. Members approved for transfer to the retired class are not required to pay dues, are not authorized to practice law, and cannot vote or hold office in the Virginia State Bar.

(1) A retired member who has filed a declaration (endorsed by the member and member’s counsel or guardian ad litem, as applicable) with the Clerk of the Disciplinary System and the Virginia State Bar’s Membership Department affirming that the member will not seek a transfer from the retired class of membership may not seek reinstatement to any other class of membership.

(2) A retired member who has not filed a declaration as described in subparagraph (e)(1) may submit a petition to the executive director in writing for transfer to active, associate, disabled or emeritus membership and state in the petition each circumstance that has changed since the member elected retired membership. Adequate documentation must be submitted with the petition showing that the member is fit and capable of practicing law. If there are any misconduct complaints or proceedings pending in any jurisdiction when the executive director receives a petition for reinstatement, the executive director must defer consideration of the petition until the misconduct issue is resolved. Otherwise, the executive director will consider and act on any such petition.

(3) The executive director may deny a petition for reinstatement if the member has been publicly disciplined in any jurisdiction or, if in the discretion of the executive director, the member is determined to have a disability raising a serious question as to the member’s fitness or capacity to practice law.  If the executive director denies the petition, the Executive Committee of the Virginia State Bar must review the decision of the executive director. If the executive director approves the petition, the member will be transferred to active, associate or emeritus status conditioned upon payment of the appropriate dues, satisfaction of any other regulatory requirements, and payment of any outstanding financial obligations to the Virginia State Bar.

(f) Emeritus Members— Those lawyers who are admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia may, upon request to the Virginia State Bar with the supporting materials specified in this subparagraph, become emeritus members and provide exclusively pro bono legal services to the poor and working poor as emeritus members subject to the terms and conditions stated in this subparagraph.  They shallEmeritus members are not required to pay no dues, may notcannot practice law except in the limited manner specified in this subparagraph, and may notcannot vote or hold office in the Virginia State Bar.


(1) Definitions.

(A) Active practice of law, for the purposes of this subparagraph, means that an attorneya lawyer has been engaged in the practice of law, which includes private practice, corporate practice as authorized by Part One A, Rule 1A:5, public employment as a lawyer, or full-time teaching at an American Bar Association approved law school.

(B) Emeritus member is any person who is admitted to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia, who is retiring or has retired from the active practice of law, and who intends to provide exclusively pro bono services under this subparagraph; and

(i) Intendsintends to provide pro bono legal services as defined by Rule 6.1(a) of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct and its comments, subject to the terms and conditions of this subparagraph; and

(ii) Isis, at the time of requesting emeritus member status, an active, associate, or retired member in good standing of the Virginia State Bar who has practiced law for 20 years or more in any U.S. jurisdiction; and

(iii) Isis, at the time of requesting emeritus status, an active, associate, or retired member who has not been disciplined for professional misconduct by the bar or courts of any jurisdiction within the past fifteen years; and

(iv)Has has been engaged in the active practice of law in any U.S. jurisdiction for a minimum of five out of the seven years immediately preceding the application to become an emeritus member; and 

(v)Agrees agrees to neither ask for nor receive any compensation of any kind from the client, except for out-of-pocket expenses, for the legal service to be rendered under this subparagraph.

(C) Qualified legal services provider, for the purposes of this subparagraph, is a Virginia licensed legal aid society or other not-for-profit entity organized in whole or in part, to provide legal services to the poor and/or working poor in Virginia.

(2) Activities.

(A) An emeritus member, in association with a qualified legal services provider, may perform only the following activities:

(i) The emeritus member may appear in any court or before an administrative tribunal or arbitrator in the Commonwealth of Virginia on behalf of a client of a qualified legal services provider.

(ii) The emeritus member may prepare and sign pleadings and other documents to be filed in any court or with anyan administrative tribunal or arbitrator in this state in any matter in which the emeritus member is involved.

(iii) The emeritus member may render legal advice and perform other appropriate legal services.

(iv) The emeritus member may engage in such other preparatory activities as are necessary for any matter in which he or she is properly involved.

(3) Limitations

(A) The prohibition against compensation for the emeritus member contained in Sectionsection (1)(B)(v) of this subparagraph shallwill not prevent the qualified legal services provider from reimbursing the emeritus member for actual expenses incurred while rendering service under this subparagraph, nor shallwill it prevent the qualified legal services provider from charging for its services as it may otherwise properly charge. The qualified legal services provider shall be entitledis authorized to receive all court awarded attorney’s fees for any representation rendered by an emeritus member.

(4) Certification. Permission for an emeritus member to perform services under this subparagraph shall becomebecomes effective upon:

(A)A a determination by the Virginia State Bar that the emeritus member has fulfilled the requirements of such membership and has a clearno disciplinary record as required by Sectionsection (1)(B) of this subparagraph; and

(B)The the filing with the Virginia State Bar each year of an affidavit of affiliation with a qualified legal services provider by the emeritus member.  The emeritus member shallmust also certify in this affidavit whether such member is currently covered by professional liability insurance.

(5) Membership Requirements. In order to practice law under this rule, a retired member must comply with the petition and approval requirements for reinstatement as an active member prescribed in Paragraph 3(d) of Part 6, Section IV of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia.  Also, associate members must satisfy any outstanding MCLE deficiencies before assuming emeritus status.  Additionally, emeritus members must comply with all rules and requirements set forth in Part 6, Section IV of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia with the exception that they are not required to pay dues and the client protection fund fee as set forth in Paragraphs 11 and 16other fees, nor comply with the professional liability certification requirements in Paragraph 18. 

(6) Change of Membership Status. An emeritus member may petition for reinstatement to active or associate membership under the procedure prescribed in subparagraph (de) of this rule for disabled and retired members.


View a clean version of the proposed revisions to Paragraph 3 (pdf)

Updated: January 8, 2020