Standing Committee on Professionalism

Jeannie P. Dahnk, chair

The Standing Committee on Professionalism is responsible for administration and ongoing oversight of the Mandatory Course on Professionalism, which is required of all newly admitted active members of the Virginia State Bar. The purpose of the course is to encourage attorneys to uphold and elevate the standards of honor, integrity, and courtesy in the legal profession. Since institution of the program in 1988, more than thirty thousand new admittees have taken the course — more than the current active practicing bar in Virginia.

The course faculty is composed of distinguished lawyers and judges representing a broad cross section of the legal profession in Virginia. Faculty members are nominated by their peers and invited by the Virginia chief justice to accept appointment for a three year term.

During the 2010-11 bar year, the course was offered nine times, at locations in Northern Virginia, Richmond, Roanoke, Chesapeake, and Charlottesville. Approximately 1,600 attorneys attended these courses. Because of a scheduling issue with the hotels, an additional course fell into the current fiscal year, increasing both yearly attendance figures and costs.

The committee is planning to meet with the new chief justice to encourage the Supreme Court of Virginia to continue its support of the course. As in previous years, Justice Donald W. Lemons has attended the courses, as his schedule permits, to give an inspiring luncheon address. The committee was delighted to also welcome Judges Gerald B. Lee and Charles E. Poston as luncheon speakers this year.  The involvement of our chief judicial officer, other justices, and leaders of our bar emphasizes to new lawyers the VSB’s seriousness regarding the issue of professionalism. The committee is grateful for the attendance of VSB President Irving M. Blank at each of the courses.

The committee continues to oversee the administrative functions of the course, including faculty selection, course material update, and faculty training activities.  Also, the committee reviews the course evaluations and strives to update the course agenda and format.

Finally, the committee continues to work with the Professionalism for Law Students program cosponsored by the VSB Section on the Education of Lawyers. This program has become a fixture at all the Virginia law schools and has been diligently led by William E. Glover with the help of a committed faculty.

Updated: Jul 19, 2011