Virginia State Bar

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

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Family Law

A Section of the Virginia State Bar.

Mentor Directory

Because of the complexity of family law, the VSB Family Law Section, in a joint effort with the VSB Young Lawyers Conference (YLC), has created the Family Law Mentor Directory Program to offer new attorneys and experienced attorneys alike a platform to “get the benefit of [each other’s] expertise on a difficult or unusual program.

After making reasonable efforts to conduct basic research on the issue, Section members can become a “Consulting Lawyer” by seeking a brief consultation at no cost with a “Volunteer Lawyer.”  Each participating member is required to understand and agree to the Program Terms and Conditions and Rules and Guidelines which address modes of communication, ethics, and conflict of interest.

Volunteer Lawyer Application Form (.pdf)


 

I.          MENTOR DIRECTORY

As a joint effort of the Virginia State Bar Family Law Section and of the Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference (YLC), the Mentor Directory seeks to further foster Professionalism and Competency for family law attorneys in Virginia.

Experienced family law attorneys will have an opportunity to register to the directory as "Volunteer Lawyer" to answer questions and aid other Section members in specific topics of Family Law. Then, other Family Law section members who have attempted basic research on the issue are able to contact a particular Volunteer Lawyer for brief "how to" advice on day-to-day practice, office procedures, and ethical dilemmas.

Since Family Law consists of many sub-categories of issues, professionalism and competency in family law practice involves being educated on legislations, evolving case laws, other areas of practice, and ethical issues. Through the Family Law Directory program, Section members will be able to benefit from each other "to get the benefit of their expertise on a difficult or unusual problem."

II.        TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USE

I am a VSB Family Law Section Member.

I am a VSB member in good standing, with no public discipline.

I have attempted basic research on the issue, which includes reading the Code of Virginia on the topic and reviewing Virginia Family Law Quarterly published on the issue.

I will only contact the mentor in the manner indicated by the mentor.

I will not contact the second mentor, unless (i) the first mentor I contacted fails to respond to me within 24 hours of the contact or (ii) the first mentor indicated that he/she is unable to assist.

I have read and agree to follow the Rules and Guidelines.

III.             RULES AND GUIDELINES

The Family Law Section Mentor Directory is a voluntary program of Section Members to facilitate appropriate mentor consultation in a specific sub-section of family law. The Mentor Directory is not intended to be and should not be used as a lawyer referral guide for the public. Virginia State Bar has not investigated and does not make any representation regarding the professional competency of any of the participants of the program. The program permits volunteer leadership to identify member attorneys that have experience in specific areas of the law and who have volunteered to share their knowledge, without a fee, in a brief telephone or e-mail exchange with another Family Law Section member. The guidelines which govern the program are:

1. A lawyer volunteering for the program as the "Volunteer Lawyer" and "mentor" for other lawyers shall:

A. Have a minimum of five (5) years of experience in each field of practice listed;

B. Agree not to advertise his or her participation in the program;

C. Agree to be available for brief (no more than 15 minutes, unless otherwise agreed) telephone consultations with Family Law Section members.

2. A lawyer volunteering for the program agrees not to charge any fee for such consultation.

3. A lawyer who seeks consultation (referred to as a "Consulting Lawyer") with a lawyer volunteering for the program (referred to as a "Volunteer Lawyer") understands and agrees that the volunteer will not be expected to do any legal research and that the volunteer lawyer accepts no professional liability for any advice given. A consulting lawyer shall make a professional evaluation of all advice received from the volunteer lawyer and shall advise his or her client based solely upon the consulting lawyer's own professional opinion.

4. Conflict of Interest

Consulting Lawyer shall reveal full names of the parties to Volunteer Lawyer. Then, before moving forward to content, Volunteer Lawyer should conduct in-office conflict check to determine whether she has a conflict of interest.

At the outset, Volunteer Lawyer should inquire whether any information should be considered confidential and, if so, should obtain sufficient information regarding the Consulting Lawyer's client and the matter to determine whether she has a conflict of interest.

The Consulting Lawyer should not consult with someone he knows has represented the opposing party in the past, without first ascertaining that (1) the matters are not substantially related and (2) that the opposing party is represented by someone else in this matter.

5. The Consulting Lawyer must solicit the Volunteer Lawyer him/herself and must not assign staff, secretaries, or paralegals to contact the Volunteer Lawyer. Volunteer Lawyers, in turn, are asked not to provide information to anyone other than an actual Consulting Lawyer that is soliciting information through the program.

6. The Consulting Lawyer shall use only those modes of communication provided by the Volunteer Attorney in the Mentor Directory. For example, if the Volunteer Attorney lists contact by email only, then only email (and not a phone call or fax) should be used. If the Volunteer Attorney has permitted both email and phone contacts, then the Consulting Lawyer can use either of the communication method to contact the Volunteer Attorney.

7. The Consulting Lawyer must make a reasonable effort to research topics prior to contacting a Volunteer Lawyer. The research shall include reading through published Virginia Family Law Quarterly on the issue. Volunteer Lawyers are not to be used as a substitute for first-line legal research. 8. The Consulting Lawyer will not divulge the identity of any particular lawyer and shall not inform his or her client of the consultation or the advice given without the written prior consent of the Volunteer Lawyer. 9. By entering into this program, no contractual relationship is intended to be created, and the Consulting Lawyer's client is not an intended beneficiary. By use of the Mentor Program, the Consulting Lawyer agrees that the Volunteer Lawyer shall not be liable for any suggestions made, and in all events the Consulting Lawyer is deemed to waive and is estopped from asserting a claim for legal malpractice.