Young Lawyers Conference

by Lesley Pate Marlin

ABA Awards
The Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference won three awards from the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division for projects completed during the 2009-10 bar year. The YLC won first place in our division in the minority project category for our Oliver Hill-Samuel Tucker Prelaw Institute. The YLC won second place awards in our division in the service to the bar category for our Bench-Bar Dinner and the Legal Handbook for Cancer Survivors.

Legal Handbook for Cancer Survivors
The YLC partnered with the Legal Information Network for Cancer (LINC) to create a legal resource handbook for cancer survivors. LINC previously developed a similar handbook, which we updated and expanded. Contributors to the handbook included numerous YLC members (including two cancer survivors, a former oncology nurse, and a lawyer physician), a member of the VSB Health Law Section, and other volunteers. The handbook discusses: paying for medical care, including health insurance issues; financial matters; employment issues; and how to plan for the future with regard to health care, financial, and other important decisions. It also contains an appendix of sample letters and documents, as well as a resource list. The handbook has been funded by the YLC, LINC, and a $2,000 grant from the ABA Young Lawyers Division. 8,000 copies of the handbook were printed -- 3,000 copies for LINC and 5,000 copies for the YLC. The handbook is now being distributed throughout Virginia. An electronic version of the handbook has also been posted at

Bench-Bar Dinner
On January 25, 2010, the YLC hosted its annual Bench-Bar Dinner at the Bull and Bear Club in Richmond to honor judges in Virginia. More than one hundred lawyers and judges attended the event, where eleven newly elected women and minority judges were honored. Virginia Justice Barbara Milano Keenan spoke. Most judges of the Virginia Court of Appeals were in attendance because they were supporting one of their colleagues, who was being honored, and they were sitting en banc the next day in Richmond.

Oliver Hill-Samuel Tucker Institute
The 2009 Institute took place July 19-24, 2009, , at the University of Richmond. To fund the program, the Millennium Diversity Initiative was awarded a $13,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation. For the first time, the Institute received more applications than the number of slots available — eighty-two applications for twenty-four slots. The significant increase occurred at least in part because a local guidance counselor posted the program on a national electronic mailing list. Three-quarters of the applications came from out of state. Priority admission was given to Virginia students, and about half of those who were admitted were from Virginia. The Institute did not cover expenses for out-of-state students to travel to Virginia. The participants traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit Melody C. Barnes, a graduate of Richmond Public Schools, at the White House and Senator Mark R. Warner on Capitol Hill. Judge Roger L. Gregory of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals addressed the students at the closing banquet. The rave reviews from the students at the end of the week underscored the Institute’s success.

Annual Meeting
At the Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting, the YLC hosted a continuing legal education program titled “Diagnosing Top Legal Issues Facing Clients with Cancer.” Speakers included Michael Freeman (creditor issues), Jack Robb (end-of-life planning and medical directives), James M. McCauley (ethics and confidentiality issues), and Mirna Hernandez (facilitator from LINC).  In addition to budgeted funds, the YLC had a grant of $500 from the ABA Young Lawyers Division for the program. The YLC continued its tradition of sponsoring the annual 5K Run in the Sun on Friday and the David T. Stitt Memorial Volleyball Tournament on Saturday. On Friday, the YLC held its annual meeting luncheon and hosted a reception for all friends of the conference. The YLC awarded the R. Edwin Burnette Jr. Young Lawyer of the Year Award to Robert E. Byrne Jr. and outstanding service awards to W. Wirt Brock, Sarah E. Bruscia, Kristi Cahoon, Christen C. Church, Joanna L. Faust, Andrew G. Geyer, Travis J. Graham, Jennifer A. Haberlin, L. Leigh R. Strelka, Monica A. Walker, Marie E. Washington, and Lindsey A. Waters.

Professional Development Conference
On September 25, 2009, the YLC hosted its annual Professional Development Conference at the Capitol in Richmond. The PDC provides affordable CLE geared toward young lawyers. The theme of this year’s conference was “Taking Your Practice to the Next Level,” and it offered 6.0 CLE credits (including 1.0 credit of ethics). Speakers included Virginia Attorney General William C. Mims. More than fifty lawyers attended the conference. A handful of attendees received hardship discounts and scholarships for persons adversely affected by the economic crisis.

YLC Leadership Conference
On September 25-26, 2009, the YLC hosted its annual Leadership Conference in Richmond to plan for the coming bar year. Robert J. Grey Jr. delivered the keynote address. Guest speakers included Phyllis C. Katz, cofounder of LINC;  VSB President Jon D. Huddleston; and Karen A. Gould, VSB executive director. More than fifty young lawyers attended.

No Bills Nights
The YLC held numerous No Bills Nights, which provide free confidential telephone consultations with lawyers. Danville’s No Bills Nights fielded approximately one hundred calls in fall 2009 and eighty calls in spring 2010. On March 16, 2010, Roanoke’s program answered approximately 240 calls were answered, and almost 3,500 others tried to get through. Roanoke’s program received support and news coverage from a local television station. On May 24, 2010, Warrenton hosted a No Bills Night during which ten attorney volunteers answered twenty-seven telephone calls.

Wills for Heroes
This program was successfully implemented in Arlington, Prince William, Fredericksburg, and Roanoke. In Fredericksburg, 196 first responders attended education sessions and 169 responders and their spouses received estate planning documents. In Roanoke, 152 first responders attended education sessions and 137 responders and spouses received estate planning documents.

Minority Prelaw Conferences
On September 12, 2009, the YLC hosted the Southern Virginia Prelaw Conference at Washington and Lee University School of Law. VSB President Huddleston delivered remarks at the conference. Almost seventy students attended the program. On October 24, 2009, the YLC hosted the Tidewater Prelaw Conference at the William and Mary School of Law. President Huddleston and I both delivered remarks. The keynote speaker was former YLC President Jimmy F. Robinson Jr. Approximately thirty students attended the program. The Northern Virginia Pre-Law Conference had to be cancelled because of inclement weather. Kaplan donated free Law School Admission Test courses to be raffled off to the attendees at each conference.

Admission & Orientation and First Day in Practice
Twice a year, the YLC sponsors a ceremony for all newly licensed attorneys, where they have an opportunity to appear before the Supreme Court of Virginia to be admitted to practice in the courts of Virginia. The fall Admission & Orientation Ceremony occurred on November 4, 2009, and the spring ceremony took place June 7, 2010. President Huddleston and I delivered remarks at both. On November 5, 2009, the YLC cosponsored a First Day in Practice Seminar with the General Practice Section. As a CLE program specifically designed for new lawyers, the seminar offers tips on practice, law-office management, and courtroom expectations.

Immigrant Outreach
The Immigrant Outreach Committee organized two CLE programs on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. A program in McLean on April 22, 2010, drew about thirty attendees and received front-page attention by the Virginia Lawyers Weekly. A program in Virginia Beach on May 5, 2010, drew approximately twenty attendees. The Immigrant Outreach Committee developing a project to address the issue of notario fraud.

Long-Range Plan
We implemented our long-range plan this year by modifying the circuit representative structure to foster connection, communication, and cooperation between the YLC and local bar associations. Our new Circuit Representative Coordination and Outreach Committee worked diligently to coordinate and follow up with our circuit representatives. We experienced an increase in requests to participate in programs spearheaded by other organizations. In addition, we also developed an increasingly active group of circuit representatives, who organized YLC projects in their localities.

Docket Call
Due to budget cuts, the YLC reluctantly agreed to discontinue printing copies of the Docket Call, with the exception of the fall edition, which focuses on membership involvement and volunteer recruitment. Accordingly, this year, the YLC published the summer, winter, and spring editions electronically. The spring edition contained a new day-in-the-life segment on young lawyers. The YLC also began using quarterly e-mails to all of our members to announce upcoming events and volunteer opportunities. The YLC has been working with the VSB staff to obtain distribution data for its electronic newsletter and announcements, so that we can assess effectiveness.

Social Media
Following the initiative of VSB President Huddleston, the YLC expanded its use of social media. The YLC Board of Governors adopted a social media policy and guidelines. We have also been working closely with the VSB on its social media policy.

The YLC worked with the VSB staff to update the YLC website to make it easier to use and add more timely content and announcements. Because of the number of programs that we have and the frequent need for updates to our website, we plan to engage an outside webmaster.

Domestic Violence Safety Project
The Domestic Violence Safety Project partnered with the Virginia Poverty Law Center to help undocumented citizens in Virginia obtain a U visa when they have been victims of domestic violence. Necessary approvals for the project have been obtained. The project is slated to begin in the next bar year.

Children and the Law Commission
The Children and the Law Commission has been developing a video for foster children to explain their rights and responsibilities. The script has been approved by the VSB Publications Committee, and the commission has begun filming and editing. The project received a production grant of $1,050 from the ABA Young Lawyers Division.

Mental Health Law Committee
The Mental Health Law Committee planned a three-hour live CLE program on mental health law issues, to be presented October 6, 2010, in Richmond.

Emergency Legal Services
Virginia did not have any natural disasters during the bar year. The committee continues to conduct periodic telephone CLE to train volunteers

Updated: May 17, 2011