The Virginia Bar Association is devoted to improving Virginia law. This benefits the public and strengthens the administration of justice. We actively propose legislation, inform lawmakers and appear at hearings in the Virginia General Assembly to support recommended changes.
The VBA Legislative Agenda each year bubbles up through the membership. VBA sections and committees discuss proposals they receive and may recommend that the VBA Board of Governors include certain suggestions to improve the law in the organization's agenda. The board will consider proposals for the 2017 legislative agenda at VBA Legislative Day on Sept. 29, 2016. The next session of state lawmakers is a 30-day gathering.
With prefiling for the 2017 session beginning July 18, 2016, it is not too soon to think about legislative initiatives for the coming year. Members interested in making Proposals for the VBA 2017 Legislative Agenda can download the form and send submissions by email to the appropriate section chair or to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Sept. 9.
For up-to-date information on bill status, or information on bills dating back to 1994, visit the Virginia Legislative Information System
During the regular assembly session, the VBA follows the progress of its proposals with updates Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays for interested members and legal professionals.
The Board of Governors approved the pursuit of 15 proposals before the 2016 General Assembly. Recommendations came from three VBA sections, a joint VBA-Virginia State Bar committee, a VBA commission, a state family law coalition and the Boyd-Graves Conference. Thirteen bills became law. Read about them in the "Improving the Law" article in the spring issue of the VBA Journal.
A history of bill advancement
The 2015 VBA legislative agenda featured 13 proposals meant to improve the law and protect the public. Four proposals came fom the VBA's Business Law Section and two each from the Wills, Trusts & Estates Section and the Boyd-Graves Conference. Other proposals involve the association's Real Estate and the Construction and Public Contracts sections, and the Virginia Family Law Coalition and the Commission on the Needs of Children. The session ran from Jan. 14-Feb. 28, with crossover occurring Feb. 11. Lawmakers reconvened April 15 to take up bill amendments or vetoes by the governor.
Full Judicial Funding
In 2010, Virginia imposed a freeze on the automatic replacement of judges who leave the bench.The VBA has been a vocal proponent for the funding and filling of all judicial vacancies in Virginia. A full judiciary is important to the economy and to citizens’ access to justice. An independent study of caseloads found a shortage of judges in all three levels of courts. Learn more.
Section-Specific Legislative Reports
As a benefit, members of VBA sections receive summaries of bills prepared for consideration by the Virginia General Assembly. The summaries are specific to the practice areas of each section. They can be helpful in flagging legislative actions of importance to member lawyers and their clients. Join a section.
This interdisciplinary group focuses on policies and legislation to improve the lives of Virginia children. A current initiative, the website ProsForKids.org seeks to help non-educators advocate for clients with special education needs.
These practitioners work to influence family law legislation in Virginia.
The Boyd-Graves Conference seeks to improve civil justice in Virginia through law reform.
Virginians serving on the Uniform Law Commission occasionally request VBA lobbying assistance for legislative proposals.
Capital Defense Workshop
For more than 20 years, the VBA Criminal Law Section has organized this fall conference. Attendance at the entire workshop satisfies statutory requirements of attorneys who represent people charged with capital murder or sentenced to death. Watch the event webpage for details about the 2015 workshop, Nov. 19 and 20 in Richmond.
Since 1985, the VBA has organized first-of-the-season debates featuring candidates for statewide office. The debates, spotlighting primarily the races for governor and U.S. Senate, generally occur at the VBA Summer Meeting in the Allegheny Mountains. They are open to the public and news media at no charge.
Three committees of VBA members review submissions of judicial hopefuls and recommend qualified candidates for federal and appellate judgeships.