Virginia State Bar

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

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Family Law

A Section of the Virginia State Bar.

Chair’s Message

Greetings 2019!

We commend and congratulate Peter Buchbauer on his selection as the 2019 winner of the Betty Thompson Lifetime Achievement Award.  The award will be presented to Pete at the Annual Advanced Family Law Seminar in Richmond.  Pete has been a real force in Virginia family law and we all appreciate his hard work over the years.

The Advanced Family Law Seminar will be held, as usual, at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond.  The date is Thursday, April 11, 2019.  The program and venue are always crowd-pleasers.  Please register immediately, as this event will sell out quickly.  I look forward to seeing all of you there in April!

The Family Law Section currently is in third place in terms of membership, just behind Criminal Law and Litigation.  While we may have gotten the “bronze,” we need to strive for the gold.

On a personal note, after 37 years of practice, other than observing my own waning patience and stamina, I also have observed many changes in the legal practice.  Some changes have been for the better, but, unfortunately, others have not.  My biggest concern (which will be addressed during one of the lectures at the seminar in April) is the changes in collegiality, candor and civility in the practice of family law.  When I began the practice of law, a lawyer’s word was their bond; deals were made with a handshake and nothing more; there was no need for a “CYA” letter; responses were timely; and arguments in court were based on the law and facts (for the most part).  This is not merely nostalgia, memories improved by the passage of time or a failing memory.  While, unquestionably, there are young lawyers who possess the traits of the past, the Bar has become a more confrontational and precarious place.  The question is whether there are people in sufficient numbers who will seek to both change and improve the Bar.  I certainly hope so.

Finally, we thank Brian Hirsch on completing his fifth year as editor of the Virginia Family Law Quarterly.  The Quarterly is one of the premier publications of the Virginia State Bar.  He always appreciates receiving scholarly and informative articles for publication.  I encourage you to exercise your writing talents and forward an article for consideration.

Mary Commander, Chair