Virginia State Bar

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Construction Law & Public Contracts

A Section of the Virginia State Bar.

Meeting Minutes - September 25, 2013

Minutes of the Virginia State Bar
Construction Law & Public Contracts Section

Board of Governors                                               

I. Call to Order – 12:05 PM.  Present in person: Sean Howley (Chair), Chris Hill, Randy Wintory, and Dolly Shaffner (VSB); on call: Mike Branca (Vice Chair), Shannon Briglia (Secretary), Jennifer Mahar (Treasurer), Brett Marston (Immediate Past Chair), Scott Kowalski, Christopher Boynton, Steve Test, Spencer Wiegard, Dan Fitch, J. Barrett Lucy, Hon. Robert Ballou and Alison Mullins.

II. Approval of Minutes from June 14, 2013 meeting - Minutes were unanimously approved.

III. 2013 Membership/Financial Report -  Jennifer Mahar reported that Section membership is slightly down, with a total of 747 members as compared to 753 in 2012-13.  Financially last year the Section closed out approximately $1,000 above budget, in part because of the Handbook upgrade project and in part because of late submitted Board reimbursement expenses.  Sean Howley requested that all private attorneys consider not submitting expenses to VSB for reimbursement, instead seeking to obtain firm funding of travel expenses as a marketing expense.

IV. Chair’s Report – Sean Howley reported that he attended a VSB Chair meeting in early September which was very insightful into the inner workings of the Bar.  The VSB will be moving, to a location to be determined.  Further news items from the meeting are reflected below in Sections VIII(Summer Program) and XV (New Business).

V. Fall Seminar –Mike Branca, Chair of the Fall Seminar Committee, reported that the slate of speakers is set, with one recent substitution.  Beth Dorfman of Watt Tieder will be stepping in for Hanna Blake, who now has a trial commitment which conflicts with the program.  Papers are expected to be received by October 11, 2013.  Mike reported that Blair Lonergan advised there are 78 people signed up so far, there are plenty of rooms still available at the Boar’s Head Inn and we are still in need of microphone volunteers.  Chris Boynton advised that Adam Swan of his office has volunteered to handle a microphone and Randy Wintory advised that someone from his office would likely volunteer.  Sean mentioned that he has a trial scheduled in Dallas the week of the program, and if he is unable to attend the program, Mike Branca will fill the Chair’s role during the program.  

VI. Handbook Committee - Scott Kowalski reported that the project to make the Handbook interactive is well into beta testing, and all Board members should have received an email from Dolly Shaffner giving them instructions on how to access and test the new and improved Handbook.  All Board members should try out the search features and report any comments/concerns.  The goal is to have the Handbook go “live” to members very soon.  The old, non-searchable version is still available during the transition period.

With regards to this year’s case updates, Scott reported that he is still waiting for a few Board members to submit their summaries.  He and his committee (Hanna Blake and Dan Fitch) are doing their second pass for the year, to add cases from May to October.

VII. Newsletter Committee - Jennifer Mahar and Barrett Lucy reported that the Fall Newsletter is in the final stages of completion and is expected to be published in mid-September.  It includes an article on The Davis-Bacon Act and a couple of case updates.  A continuing request was made for cases and material / articles for future editions of the Newsletter. Articles may be as short as 3-4 pages and as long as 10 pages.  Consistent with the recent change in the format, the abbreviated Newsletter will be sent by hardcopy and the balance will be linked on the Section’s website.  Board members suggested the Newsletter include the new password for the Section website and an advertisement for the Fall Program and new searchable Handbook.

VIII. Summer Program Committee – Sean Howley reported that one critical piece of information learned at the recent VSB Chair conference was that the format of the Annual VSB Meeting will be dramatically modified due to the unavailability of the Cavalier Hotel to host the meeting while it undergoes renovations and a possible change in ownership.  VSB has decided to revamp the entire format and instead of offering 7-10 short CLE programs, there will be 4 or 5 longer CLEs of “showcase” quality. VSB wants several sections to jointly present a topic of general interest to all of their constituents.  VSB will program time for a unified Section luncheon during which Section business can be conducted with additional time for networking across Sections.  Sean advised he thought we would still host our private Section dinner in advance of any CLE in which we are involved.  The deadline for the joint Section program submissions is October 4, 2013.

There ensued a discussion of the proposed CLE topics suggested by the Bar, with Chris Boynton taking the lead.  Chris and his committee agreed to reach out to the Real Estate, Local Government, and Litigation sections to see if there was interest in presenting a topic involving Private Public Partnerships/Property Rights/Redevelopment or Eminent Domain/Redevelopment.

IX. Social Media – Chris Hill reported that all efforts to energize social media through the VSB are still barred.  Dolly Shaffner mentioned that there is a “Call for Comments” on the Young Lawyers’ Division Social Media policy which provides links between social media sites, which seems to indicate, perhaps, a softening on the previous hard stance on social media.  It was agreed that Fall Program attendees will be surveyed to identify what types of social media they would participate in if VSB softens its restrictions (i.e., Linked-In Group, FaceBook page, etc.).

X. Publications Committee – Randy Wintory reported that he has secured the December 2014 edition of the Virginia Lawyer for publication of articles from our Section.  He will need four (4) articles by October 10, 2014.  Any interested authors should contact Randy.   

XI. Membership Committee – Alison Mullins reported that she is open to ideas for a Spring membership event; she has spoken with Judge Robert Wooldridge about presenting a Mediation Ethics program in either Northern Virginia or Richmond.  Sean Howley stated that the Mediation Ethics program in Northern Virginia was well attended but did not yield many new members.  He suggested we focus on Roanoke, and ask Judge Ballou and Brett Marston to present, or Tidewater.  Dolly Shaffner suggested we offer new VSB members who have just passed the bar a one-year free Section membership.  She offered to coordinate with Alison on an email blast to all new VSB members.

XII. Five Year Plan Committee – In early June the committee (Mike Branca, Shannon Briglia, and Mark Crawford) updated the plan.  The update was sent to Sean Howley for further action prior to the next Board meeting. 

XIII. Website  – Spencer Wiegard reported that the website is current with a listing of new Board members and all recent Board meeting minutes.  He commented that he logged into the new Handbook and found it very easy to use and a definite improvement over the old version.

XIV. Old Business – There was no old business to discuss.

XV. New Business – 

a. Sean Howley requested that all Committee Chairs review the recently issued 2013-14 Committee Assignments and confirm if they are correct.  He also suggested that if any Committee Chair feels additional members are needed, to suggest specific attorneys who may have expressed an interest in getting more involved.  An associate in Sean’s office has volunteered to be on the membership committee, and Courtney Paulk of Hirschler Fleischer has indicated in the past an interest in becoming more involved.  

b. Sean Howley reported that the big “take-away” from the September VSB Chair meeting was a push towards diversity.  There will be a Diversity Conference in the near future and Chairs of each Section will be sending an email to their members inviting them to attend.  Sean asked whether we should consider pairing with the Diversity Committee to present an event, or perhaps initiate creation of a Construction and Public Contracts Section Diversity Committee.