Frequently Asked Questions

I am not actively practicing law in Virginia. What are my options?

Change your status to Associate. If you are not actively practicing Virginia law, you may consider changing your status to Associate. Associate lawyers pay annual license renewal fees equal to half that of Active lawyers and have no Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) requirements. Any outstanding MCLE requirements will be deferred until such time as you may wish to return to Active in the future. 

Change your status to Retired. You must be 70 years old or older to change your status to Retired. There are no dues or fees with this status and there are no MCLE requirements. 

Resign. You may resign from the bar; however, resignation is a decision that should be made only after serious consideration is given to the ramifications and after a review of your options. See the applicable rules of court in the Application for Resignation (pdf).

What’s the difference between Retired and Emeritus?

For one, emeritus lawyers needn’t be 70 years old. But they must have practiced law for 20 years or more. When you transition to emeritus status with the bar, you practice only pro bono in your retirement. You pay no fees and have access to free CLEs. Rules changed in 2018 to allow lawyers to do this more easily. See if you qualify and start the transition at any time

How do I return to Active status from Associate status?

To return to Active status you must submit a written request, pay the Active fee (or the difference between the Associate and Active fee if you have already paid the Associate fee for the year), pay the Clients’ Protection Fund fee, pay the Attorney Wellness Fund fee, certify your Professional Liability, and complete your MCLE obligations (see next question) before your status can be changed. The Professional Liability certification is on the annual dues statement or can be downloaded separately.

What are the MCLE obligations to return to Active status?

To activate or re-activate your status with the bar you must first satisfy any outstanding MCLE obligations from prior years when you were active (see MCLE Regulation 111(c) and Paragraph 19), including any outstanding MCLE delinquency fee obligations. In addition, you must report attendance at 12 approved CLE hours, of which 2 must be in ethics and 4 must be from live interactive programs, taken within the previous 12 months. (Those hours will be applied to the current MCLE compliance year.) To determine how many MCLE hours you need to complete, please contact the MCLE department at (804) 775-0577.

How do I get a third-year practice certificate?

The dean of your law school must submit a letter to the Virginia State Bar certifying that you have completed all the necessary requirements as outlined in the Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court, Part 6, Section IV, Paragraph 15. Please review the rules and the sample request letter (Word doc). Email any questions to isley@vsb.org or telephone (804) 775-0530.

How do I change my name?

The Virginia State Bar cannot change your name until it has been changed with the Supreme Court of Virginia, if you have qualified before the court – or, with the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners, if you have not been licensed. When you change it with the appropriate agency, they will send us a name change order and we will change it in the Virginia State Bar database automatically. To change it with the Supreme Court of Virginia, please contact them at (804) 786-2251 or download their attorney name change form. To change your name with the Board of Bar Examiners please contact them at (804) 367-0412.

Updated: Oct 22, 2019