News and Information
June 17, 2021

CLSBA Recognizes 12 Bars and Seven Projects for Service to the Profession and the Commonwealth

The Conference of Local and Specialty Bar Associations has recognized 12 bars and seven projects across the Commonwealth with Awards of Merit.

This competition is designed to recognize outstanding projects and programs of local and specialty bar associations; share successful programming ideas and resources with all bar associations; encourage greater service to the bench, bar, and public; and inform the public about some of the excellent work of local and specialty bars and the legal profession in general.

The 2021 Awards of Merit were judged by Marni Byrum, VSB past president; Paul Fletcher, Virginia Lawyers Weekly; and Professor Andrew Connors, Liberty University School of Law.

This year’s Awards of Merit winners are:

Roanoke Bar Association (2 awards)

Keeping it Clean

The Roanoke Bar Association organized and raised funds to provide 20 schools with a washer dryer set for use by their homeless and low-income students who have no other alternative to having clean clothes to wear to attend school. The bar association contributed $4,000 to the project itself and raised additional funds to purchase the appliances. The bar partnered with the Roanoke Law Foundation to advertise and solicit donations. Additionally, they have set up drop-off points for washing supplies and basket donations.

Meals for Heroes

The RBA also raised funds to donate 18 weeks of meals every Friday between April and August of 2020 to the local medical personnel on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Partnering with the Shenandoah Club, they provided meals for the 120 employees working the COVID-19 floor of the Roanoke Memorial Hospital. The final total was $14, 675 worth of meals provided through donations from the community.

Russell County Bar Association

Advancing the Rule of Law (Law Day Program)

The Russell County Bar Association’s primary service project centered on the American Bar Association’s Law Day and its theme “Advancing the Rule of Law Now.” Together with the Tazewell County Bar Association, the Washington County Criminal Defense Bar, and students from the Appalachian School of Law, they presented a three-pronged observance of Law Day.   

On April 30, in partnership with Marsh Blood Services, they hosted an inaugural Law Day Blood Drive next to the Courthouse in Lebanon. Over the course of the day, the association members spoke with scores of citizens about Law Day, its central theme, and subsidiary themes of promoting the rule of law, defending liberty, and pursuing justice.

On Law Day, May 1, they presented a Pro Bono Legal Clinic, volunteers met with walk-in clients and field phone calls, charging no dee for services and advice. They asked that if people were able to donate time, finds or resources to a charity of their choice.

Lastly, The association is currently working on a Law Day video explaining the importance of the Rule of Law.

The Alexandria Bar Association

Enhanced Monthly Membership Meetings During COVID

The Alexandria Bar Association implemented a unique way to keep their monthly meetings interesting virtually and raise morale during the pandemic. The first Enhanced Monthly Membership Meeting Invited Chef Brandon Whitestone from Mia’s Italian Kitchen to teach a cooking demonstration to the membership. Members picked up meal kits before the meeting with ingredients to make Chicken Parmigiana. Business meeting items were handled before the chef logged on and the fun activities began.

At another meeting, the members were encouraged to dress up in their best flapper outfits or gangster hat. St. Louis-based Jest Murder Mystery Co. led members in a 1920s themed “who done it.” Entirely member-driven, the participation of members made this experience memorable. Cocktail Kits were made available from The Majestic, a local restaurant, before the meeting. Beverage director Mike Rice demonstrated how to make the perfect roaring 20’s themed specialty cocktails.

In March, Chef Ahn from Palette 22, a local restaurant, taught members how to make lumpias, and comedian Cory Michaelis entertained members with a thirty-minute show.

The Bar Association of the City of Richmond in association with:
Chesterfield County Bar Association
Greater Richmond Criminal Bar Association
Henrico County Bar Association
Hill-Tucker Bar Association
Metro Richmond Family Law Bar Association
Metropolitan Richmond Women’s Bar Association

Virtual Bench-Bar Conference

The metropolitan Richmond local and specialty bar associations presented a Virtual Bench-Bar Conference on March 18, 2021. The conference's objective was to provide attendees with "inside information" on the newest changes and procedures for 2021 in all local courts. The presentations included tips from the experts on scheduling cases, updated docket procedures, jury trial processes, planning for virtual trials and other information to assist with an efficient, successful court practice post-COVID.

This virtual program took the place of the annual in-person Bench/Bar Conference previously scheduled for September of 2020. The events drew 100 participants, while typically 125 to 150 people attend the in-person conference.

The Prince William County Bar Association

Pivoting During the Pandemic

The Prince William County Bar Association developed an electronic voting system to handle judicial screening elections, increased member engagement programming, increased staff, launched a new community service initiative and added video capability to their toolbox. They did not just maintain ongoing programs, but expanded them, with plans to continue offering virtual engagement as the pandemic restrictions are lifted. 

In addition to hosting their internal events, the bar association continued to provide community outreach through programs such as So You’re 18, Annual Beat the Odds Banquet, and even joining a new endeavor called Fueling the Frontline.

Virginia Beach Bar Association (Sustained Program Award)

C.L.A.S.S. Program (Concerned Lawyers Advocating Spousal Safety)

Every Friday since 1995, two members of the VBBA volunteer their time to represent pro se petitioners for protective orders in the Virginia Beach Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. These attorneys provide representation free-of-charge to people who are seeking from the court a safe harbor from further abuse or the threat of further abuse. The CLASS Program has continued its positive impact in the court system since its inception, with only a short break during the recent pandemic when the court was closed.  

Today, the CLASS Program has a roster of at least 60 committed attorneys who collectively donate hundreds of hours of pro bono service each year. The C.L.A.S.S. Program has earned the sustained projects award, showing growth of the project and five consecutive years of service.

The CLSBA provides information on these projects available to other groups that want to consider similar programs. For information, contact Paulette J. Davidson at davidson@vsb.org or (804) 775-0521.

Updated: Jun 17, 2021