Special Committee on Bench Bar Relations

W. Hunter Old, chair

The Bench-Bar Relations Committee met on the following dates at the following locations:

September 10, 2014 – Virginia State Bar, Richmond

January 21, 2015 – Virginia State Bar, Richmond

March 8, 2015 – Virginia State Bar, Richmond

May 21, 2015 - Virginia State Bar, Richmond

Various members of the committee also participated in sub-committee meetings in connection with the FY2015 regional bench-bar programs. 

The committee's focus continued in FY2014-2015 to support the VSB's efforts to create regional bench-bar conferences, the brainchild of Past-President W. David Harless. The regional programs have had strong support from the local benches of the regions where the programs take place, the local bar associations, and members of the bar, both in planning and participation of each event. Each conference has sought to tailor the programming to the needs of the targeted regions. Each has sought and received support and input from local bench and bar members.  And each has been successful in bringing together large numbers of participants from the targeted region to provide a high-quality, live CLE opportunity in areas where such programs are difficult to find.

The first took place in Abingdon in April 2013, with the support and financial assistance of the VSB. The second Abingdon Bench-Bar Conference took place on April 26, 2014, funded locally, but organized and held with the assistance of the VSB's Conference of Local Bar Associations and the Bench-Bar Relations Committee. The local bars of the 28th, 29th and 30th judicial circuits held their third Bench-Bar Conference in conjunction with a VSB Solo & Small Firm Practitioner Forum on June 26, 2015 in Abingdon at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center. This conference was organized and funded totally by the local bars.

The second iteration of a regional bench-bar conference took place in Danville on March 7, 2014, combined with a VSB Solo & Small Firm Forum. The Danville Bar Association held its own Bench Bar Conference and Solo & Small Firm Forum at Averett University in Danville on May 18, 2015, assisted by the VSB Bench-Bar Relations Committee and the VSB Conference of Local Bars Association. 

A new start-up bench-bar conference, and third iteration of the regional program, was held on June 12, 2015, in Harrisonburg at James Madison University. This was a joint effort of the CLBA, the Bench-Bar Relations Committee and the lawyers and judges of the 16th, 24th, 25th and 26th judicial circuit courts and bar associations.  This effort was funded under the CLBA’s budget, and the program was put together jointly by members of the CLBA and members of the Bench-Bar Relations Committee.

In addition to assisting in the planning and implementation of the programs described above, the Bench-Bar Relations Committee explored issues created by the Judicial Evaluation Program utilized by the Supreme Court of Virginia.

W. Hunter Old of Williamsburg will retire as chair of the committee as of June 30, 2015, and Henry Willett of Richmond has agreed to serve as the new chair in FY2016.  The next meeting date is September 9, 2015.

Updated: Jun 26, 2015