Young Lawyers Conference

Maureen Danker, President

The Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference (“YLC”) has 11,425 members as of June 1, 2015.  The names and district/offices represented by YLC’s Board of Governors for the 2014-15 fiscal year is as follows:



Maureen Danker


Nathan Olson

President Elect

Dean LHospital


Regeunea Hurte

1st District

Jennifer Moccia

2nd District

Brian Wesley

3rd District

Monique Miles

4th District

Christopher Fortier

5th District

T. Alexander Cloud, Jr.

6th District

David Irvine

7th District

Lindsey Coley

8th District

Paula Bowen

9th District

J. Craig Kemper

10th District

Jennifer Haberlin


Providence Napoleon


Farnaz Thompson


Lakai Vinson


Edwin Wu


Kenneth Alger, II

Immediate Past President

During the past year, the YLC successfully implemented new programs and expanded and maintained its existing programs.  The details of these programs and those involved, are detailed below: 


The 2014 Institute for at-risk high school students hosted 49 participants from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, the largest Institute yet.  McGuire Woods sponsored this year’s program held at the University of Richmond from July 13-18.  During the week, the participants lived on the University of Richmond’s campus, attended mock trial sessions and seminars, and participated in programs geared towards their development as law professionals, including an etiquette dinner and a networking reception, all at no cost.

The participants visited U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer and U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Roger L. Gregory.  They toured the Richmond City Jail’s old and new facilities and met with Sheriff C.T. Woody and General Counsel Tony Pham. They visited the McGuire Woods Richmond office and met with several attorneys at McGuire Woods, including managing partner George Martin.

Justice Cleo Powell, the first African-American woman to serve on the Supreme Court of Virginia, was the graduation banquet’s keynote speaker.  She recalled that Samuel Tucker was the first lawyer she met and he inspired her to pursue a career in law.  She encouraged the students to remain steadfast in their pursuits and they would attain greater heights than she achieved.

Many young attorneys volunteered their time and contributed in making this program such a success.   The Institute’s chairs, Latoya Asia and Providence Napoleon, received rave reviews from the participants and their families for the well-organized, engaging, and inspiring Institute they led this year, so much so that many of the participants have already inquired about volunteering as an intern for next year’s program. 


The first of this bar year’s two Minority Pre-Law Conferences occurred on Saturday, October 4th, at Marshall Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary. Approximately 37 students attended the day-long conference, which included panels on the admissions process; career opportunities; law school from the students’ perspective; and the LSAT. Students participated in a mock law class led by William & Mary professor Christopher L. Griffin, Jr. and a mock trial presentation by the William & Mary Trial Team.  Students also attended a Law School Fair with representatives from approximately fifteen law schools.  Shemeka Hankins, the conference chair, did an excellent job putting on the conference, especially so early in the school and Bar year and hosting it at the College of William & Mary for the first time. 

The second of this bar year’s two Minority Pre-Law Conferences was rescheduled from Saturday, February 21st, due to inclement weather.  It took place on Saturday, June 20th, at George Mason University School of Law in Arlington.  Approximately 22 college students attended the day-long conference, which included panels on the admissions process; career opportunities; law school from the students’ perspective; and the LSAT. The keynote speaker was Justin Fairfax, Esquire. 


In an effort to make Virginia lawyers available to assist attendees at the Minority Pre-Law Conference with law school and legal questions that arise after the conference, the YLC has partnered with the Section on the Education of Lawyers.  Together they have developed this pilot mentor/mentee program.  This program provides active and retired members of the Virginia State Bar, the judiciary, and full-time Virginia law school professors as mentors to undergraduate students interested in pursuing law school/legal careers. Collectively, about 70 attorneys from both sections have signed up to be mentors. The mentees are participants from last year’s MPL conference as well as this year’s conferences.

As a result of our mentoring program’s application to the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division’s 2014-15 Next Steps Diversity Challenge, we were selected as a finalist and showcased at the 2015 YLD Spring Conference in Tampa Bay, Florida, on May 16th.   The Challenge encourages ABA YLD Affiliates and law student programs to increase diversity in our profession.  Our prelaw mentoring program received recognition from the ABA as one of the top three programs that was showcased, and was awarded $250 for our program’s efforts to encourage diversity and inclusion, which will help us continue to develop this program. 


The PDC took place on September 19, 2014.  We served 165 people in three cities with four hours of in-person programming and two hours of ethics starring Jack Marshall originating in Washington, DC.  We video conferenced the ethics from Washington, DC to our sites in Richmond and Virginia Beach.  Both the Washington, DC and Richmond sites were sold out.  In Virginia Beach, we more than doubled our attendance rate last year from 15 to 41 attendees.  

We featured 12 speakers in all locations covering topics such as attorney-client privilege in foreign jurisdictions, social media policies, trial practice fundamentals, secrets of successful associates, elder law, legal writing, Social Security Disability practice, traffic court practice, the hearsay exception, government contracting, and social media in law practice.  We had two hours of ethics focusing on ethics chess for young lawyers.  All programs were recorded and the video will be available through our Professional Development Series in the Winter and Spring.

Special thanks to our program chairs Melissa Alfano in Washington, Joel McClellan in Richmond, and Edwin Wu in Virginia Beach.  Additionally, a debt of gratitude is owed to Kara Cooper at our Virginia Beach site.  We will seek to expand next year’s conference to Tysons Corner to make this a four-site conference. 


Season five of our web-based videos premiered in December and ended in May.  The focus of season five was marketing, branding, and etiquette.  All videos are stored on the YouTube channel and announced on the YLC’s website, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn sites. 


Legal Information Network for Cancer (LINC) is the YLC’s partner in the Handbook.  They reached out to us again to update the Handbook this year to reflect changing laws. The YLC’s committee assisted with updating the necessary sections of the Handbook which is ready to print but was delayed due to lack of funding.  It is anticipated that the Handbook will go to print in January 2016.


This year’s co-chairs, Justin Sheldon and Gabe Walker worked with the Honorable Cleo Powell, Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia, for this year’s program that took place on April 27th, 2015 and 400 students attended. The topic this year was focused on truancy.  The students observed a session of the general assembly and a mock argument of the Supreme Court of Virginia.   Michael Herring, Judge Roger Gregory and Delegate McClellan were this year’s speakers.


Seth Land of Abingdon, our statewide program chair, coordinated several events that took place throughout the Commonwealth over the course of the year, many of which occurred during the month of May, in conjunction with law week. 


The YLC’s Admission & Orientation Ceremony with the Supreme Court of Virginia occurred on December 3, 2014 and June 3, 2015, at the Greater Richmond Convention Center to welcome and admit the newly-licensed attorneys.


The Seminar took place on December 2, 2014 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.  Everett Bensten is this year’s program chair. 


The YLC’s program committee continues to partner with volunteers from the VBA’s Young Lawyers Division.  Programs took place in Prince William County in March and Henrico County on May 16th


This year’s co-chairs continued to build our list of bilingual attorneys featured on the YLC website.  A CLE aimed at understanding Affirmative Asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status was scheduled to occur on March 5th at George Washington University School of Law, but was rescheduled and occurred on March 11th due to inclement weather.  Despite the need to reschedule, we had a solid turnout of 20 attorneys.  Attendees were mostly attorneys working in the private sector who were interested in taking on their first (or next) pro bono immigration case involving affirmative asylum or SIJS.  Additionally, we had a few immigration attorneys present who were either newly barred, looking for a refresher, or interested in learning more about SIJS.


We have been working hard to refine a web-based interface for attorneys to express interest in joining non-profits’ boards of directors, for non-profits to post their board vacancies, and for the parties to connect, and this project is near completion. The website is set up and a list of non-profit organizations is being implemented.  We are also working on finding new chairs and developing a handbook.


The Co-Chairs, Nerissa Rouzer and Missy York, did an excellent job planning and implementing this year’s celebration of women and minorities in the legal progression program, which occurred on January 27th at the Jepson Alumni Center on the campus of the University of Richmond.  This year’s sold-out program celebrated 18 honorees, 14 of which were in attendance. Federal judges were included this year as well.  The Honorable Marla Decker, Judge of the Court of Appeals of Virginia, served as the keynote speaker. 


The YLC’s ever-popular CLE, Judiciary Squares, was selected as one of the five CLE programs that were showcased at this year’s Annual Meeting in June at Virginia Beach. This fun, non-traditional CLE program is modeled after the popular game show Hollywood Squares.  It included nine judges to serve as squares and answer questions from two contestants.  The focus this year was on Recent Developments in Virginia Law, and included Judges throughout Virginia, from the various District and Circuit Courts as well as the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.  Former Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge, Stanley P. Klein, served again as the moderator.  The athletics chair, Laura O’Brien, successfully planned and implemented this year’s Annual Meeting 5K Race and Volleyball Tournament.

The board also voted in favor of sponsoring and mentoring two law students to attend the annual meeting.  After approval of amending our budget to allocate the necessary funds, the YLC sponsored two law students from Regent University School of Law and also mentored a third student from Appalachia Law School as well.


Four editions of the newsletter were published on time and were distributed.  The Summer edition included coverage of the YLC’s annual meeting events, my President’s Message, estate planning, classification of hybrid property in equitable distribution cases, among others.  The Spring edition included top interview tips for young attorneys.  The Winter edition included an interview with Chief Judge Glenn Huff, of the Virginia Court of Appeals. 


Shiva Hamidinia and Helen Chong co-chaired this program following the ABA’s theme: “Magna Carta: Symbol of Freedom Under Law.”  A designated booth on Fairfax Law Foundation’s Annual Law Day on May 1, 2015 was organized and manned by young attorneys to answer questions.


Our member-involvement coordinator, Paula Bowen, continues to maintain a spreadsheet for tracking volunteers’ interests and availability and contacting specific programs to find ways to incorporate these new volunteers with our programs.


All of our Circuit Representatives have been contacted to solicit projects in their respective circuits this year.   Programs range from mock trials to softball tournaments, and many are participating in the Center for the Teaching of the Rule of Law’s program, whose focus this year is on helping students celebrate the Magna Carta.

Melissa Little, one of our circuit representatives, conducted a successful book drive in Alexandria during the month of May.  She collected and donated two boxes of school supplies, and over 700 books to Patrick Henry Elementary School in Alexandria.  The faculty and students were thrilled.  The Northern Virginia Urban League Young Professional Network, Hooray for Books, and Alfred Street Baptist Church assisted with this project.


The Juvenile Rights Handbook was finalized and is now available on our website.

Helen Chong, the returning chair of this program, has been distributing mock trial kits. Anti-bullying brochures were also printed and available for distribution.  It is being revised by the non-profit organization, Just Children.  Helen’s involvement with this program and others led to her nomination and receipt of the R. Edwin Burnette Jr. Young Lawyer of the Year Award, which was presented to her by Judge Burnette during the YLC’s luncheon at the Annual Meeting.


Several call/brown bag lunch series calls were scheduled and took place every other month throughout the Bar year.


The YLC was pleased to receive three American Bar Association Awards of Achievement for our members’ work during the 2013-2014 Bar year. The awards were: Second place in the Service to the Bar Category for our Professional Development Conference; Special Recognition in the Newsletter Category for YLC’s quarterly publication, Docket Call; and Special Recognition in the Comprehensive Young Lawyers Division Category.

Five members of the YLC Board were in Houston, Texas to attend the ABA’s Mid-Year meeting and attended, among other events, the ABA Young Lawyer Division’s Assembly meeting on February 7, 2015.  This was the largest VA delegation at an ABA YLD assembly in over a decade.


Our newest social media platform is Pinterest, which now serves as a collection of professional development resources.  Some of our Boards will be placed on the website as a collection of resources for our users to take from the website and hopefully drive more return traffic.  As of this week, we have 46 pins up, mostly from our videos but also from some outside resources we like.  Photos from YLC events are posted to our Instagram feed.  Also articles from Docket Call and the like are uploaded to our Tumblr feed.   Twitter posts are up to multiple times per day and may invade weekends.  Facebook and Google+ posts average three to four times per week, all in an effort to keep YLC members up to date on our events and programs.


Updated: Jul 27, 2015