See at a glance the progress of VBA legislative initiatives (PDF) as this year's session of the General Assembly unfolds. This interactive chart allows readers to call up the actual House or Senate bill, learn more about the bill's patron and become informed about the committee hearing the proposal. Updates on the VBA legislative agenda will be posted Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays through the session. Find them at vba.org/legislation or via the Legislation tab in the top navigation from the VBA website.
E. Tazewell "Ted" Ellett discusses his role as the VBA's delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates in the winter 2013-14 issue of the VBA Journal. In addition to regular features, this issue includes "Commonwealth's Common Law" by Virginia Court of Appeals Judge D. Arthur Kelsey (the online version contains the endnotes) and "'Til death do us part?" by Leslie Ann Shaner. Your print copy will arrive soon in your mailbox.
The U.S. Senate on Dec. 10 voted to confirm Patricia Millett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Millett is a member of the VBA Appellate Practice Section Council. Hers was the first judicial confirmation since a rules change meant to streamline nominations. The vacancy has been open since 2005. Millett has argued 32 times before the U.S. Supreme Court, the second most for a woman advocate, the Blog of LegalTimes reported.
The names of more than 3,300 attorneys were submitted in 16 categories for the annual Virginia Business magazine list of lawyers rates tops by their peers. This year's Legal Elite, published in the December issue on newsstands now, lists 868 attorneys. Nearly two-thirds of them -- 550+ -- are VBA members.
The magazine profiles numerous attorneys, including VBA members Thomas W. Greeson in Health Law, Marshall M. Curtis in Intellectual Property, and Gretchen M. Ostroff in Young Lawyers. Categories in which VBA members make up more than 66 percent of the Legal Elite include Labor and Employment, Construction, Real Estate and Land Use, and Business Law.
Virginia Business began collaborating with the VBA in selecting categories for the Legal Elite in 2000. The VBA is not involved in the balloting.
In 2012, the General Assembly ordered a study to measure and compare the workload of Virginia judges at all court levels. The Virginia Judicial Workload Assessment Report was posted by the Supreme Court of Virginia on Nov. 15. The National Center for State Courts performed the study, which also assessed the optimum distribution of judicial positions throughout the commonwealth.
The VBA, which alongside eight statewide bars is urging legislators and the executive branch to fully fund and fill judicial vacancies, will closely follow matters included in the report.
We are interested in hearing your feedback on the report. Email those comments to Executive Director Yvonne C. McGhee.
Virginia Living magazine interviewed VBA officials and affiliated groups for the article "Honor & Compassion" about the State of Law in Virginia. The subhead calls Virginia's state bar associations "the standard bearers for professionalism in the practice of law." Sandra Shelley wrote the article for the magazine's December 2013 issue, which hit newsstands on Nov. 8. Start reading on page 65. Or start on page 59 with a profile of Chief Justice Cynthia D. Kinser.
Through participation in bar associations, Virginia lawyers have exerted a profound influence on the development of Virginia's legal system. The exhibit "The Bar at Work: 125 Years of Building the Legal Profession in Virginia, 1888-2013" commemorates the VBA's 125th anniversary and the VSB's 75th. Created by the Supreme Court of Virginia Historical Advisory Committee and the Virginia State Law Library, the exhibit is on display on the third floor of the building housing the Supreme Court of Virginia. Take a peek via this PDF. Organizers expect the presentation to remain on display through August 2014.
The VBA and eight other statewide bar associations have united to seek the funding and filling of all judicial vacancies in Virginia. The result is a resolution (PDF) signed by all nine bar groups. In late October, the VBA sent a letter (PDF) to members and candidates of the legislative and executive branches of government seeking their support for this initiative. We encourage members' individual efforts to build community backing for the goal of filling all existing and anticipated vacancies in the judiciary. VBA President Tom Bagby wrote about the subject in his Nov. 1 In A VBA Minute message.
Thirty Leaders in the Law recognized by Virginia Lawyers Weekly chose John B. McCammon of The McCammon Group for top honors in the class of 2013. The annual awards reception for legal professionals who make significant contributions to the practice of law was held in Richmond on Oct. 17. A VBA member since 1977, McCammon has served in the leadership of the Joint ADR Committee of the VBA and VSB, and has appeared as a presenter at VBA-sponsored events.
James V. Meath, chairman of the board at Williams Mullen in Richmond and the 2005 VBA president, in October started a one-year term as president of the Virginia Law Foundation. He succeeds Manuel A. Capsalis in the role at the philanthropic organization that promotes law-related education and access to justice. The Virginia Law Foundation has provided more than $23 million in support of the Rule of Law Project initiated at the VBA, the Court Appointed Special Advocates program, Lawyers Helping Lawyers and other projects. Meath is a Fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation, which recently named Raymond M. White, the executive director of Virginia CLE, as its executive director. Read the Richmond Times-Dispatch article about plans for Meath's term.
Marla Graff Decker, Virginia's secretary of public safety under Gov. Bob McDonnell, has been named to the Virginia Court of Appeals. When she joins the court in November, she will succeed Judge Larry Elder, who is retiring. Before joining McDonnell's Cabinet in 2010, Decker worked in the state attorney general's office for more than 25 years. Read the governor's news release on Decker's appointment.
The candidates for lieutenant governor of Virginia debated live in Norfolk on Oct. 2. The VBA YLD Town Hall Meetings/Capitol committee organized the event in conjunction with the Student Government Association at ODU. Republican E.W. Jackson, a minister, and Democrat Ralph S. Northam, a state senator, met on stage in the Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center at Old Dominion University.
Candidates addressed questions posed by Virginian-Pilot reporter Julian Walker, who served as moderator, and political science professor Quentin Kidd of Christopher Newport University. The VBA Young Lawyers Division hosted a meet-the-candidates reception immediately after the debate in the atrium of the arts center. Listen to the lieutenant governor debate by downloading the audio via WHRV.
The VBA, sponsor firms and "PBS NewsHour" live streamed the July 20 debate of gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli with moderator Judy Woodruff. Financial assistance from LeClairRyan, MercerTrigiani, Sensei Enterprises Inc. and Spotts Fain PC made the live streaming possible. Watch a recording of The Virginia Bar Association/PBS NewsHour Internet feed of the debate via the “PBS NewsHour” UStream channel. Media coverage Tweeted under the #VBADebate hashtag. In addition to statewide and national media coverage, WCVE Public Radio broadcast the debate on July 21 on "WCVE Forum." VBA President Tom Bagby appeared on the "Morning Show" on WINA-1070 AM in Charlottesville as the VBA Summer Meeting began to talk about the debate.
See why the ABA YLD determined that our Opening Statement newsletter -- and the VBA Young Lawyers Division -- deserve national awards. For program highlights, opportunities to get involved, a testament to YLD ambition and generosity and other information, check out the first issue of Volume 2 (PDF) of the VBA YLD newsletter. View the archive.
After 22 years on the Court of Appeals of Virginia, and 27 years on the bench, Judge Larry G. Elder will retire on Oct. 1. The fall term of the court already is under way and Gov. Bob McDonnell plans to appoint a successor "in short order" -- by Oct. 1. Applications, due Sept. 16, and information are available at www.governor.virginia.gov/vacancies.cfm.
Some law offices in Virginia took part in Go Orange Day on Sept. 5 to raise awareness of hunger in Virginia. Thanks, McKenry, Dancigers, Dawson & Lake P.C. in Virginia Beach, for sending us a photo of your staff.
Plans are already in the works for next year’s Legal Food Frenzy, to be held from March 31 to April 11, 2014. But hunger is something many Virginians experience all year long. So, on September 5, 2013, VBA members are being asked to take part in “Go Orange Day,”by wearing orange to raise awareness of hunger in Virginia. Snap a photo of people in your office wearing orange and send it to email@example.com by September 12, 2013, and you will receive 100 bonus points toward next year’s Legal Food Frenzy competition!
Which lawyers are improving the law and law practice, contributing to their communities and enhancing the justice system in Virginia? Turns out they often are the same individuals who also belong to the VBA. Sixty percent of the 30 members of the Class of 2013 Leaders in the Law are members. They include Heidi W. Abbott, Matthew W. Broughton, S. Miles Dumville, James Hingeley, George K. Martin, John B. McCammon and Paula L. Peaden. Congratulations also to Sandra Chinn-Gilstrap, Jill A. Hanken, Patrick W. Herman, Thomas C. Kleine, John D. McGavin, and Jay B. Myerson. We appreciate the service of James V. Meath, U.S. Magistrate Judge David E. Novak, Mark E. Rubin, Thomas R. Scott Jr. and John R. Walk. The list was announced Aug. 21 by the publisher of Virginia Lawyers Weekly.
The ABA YLD Awards of Achievement recognized three of the many projects of The Virginia Bar Association Young Lawyers Division in its annual contest. The overall efforts of the VBA YLD garnered a second place in the comprehensive category. The YLD is a perennial placer against national competitors. The 2012-2013 honors include, in additional to the comprehensive award, second places in Service to the Bar, with the Backpack to Briefcase project; and in newsletter with Opening Statement. In the Service to the Public category, the judges gave special recognition to the Capitol Region Town Hall Committee for its Restoration of Rights meeting.
The Virginia Bar Association has become the latest of more than 30 bar associations to offer Clio as a member benefit. Clio provides cloud-based practice management, time and billing and client collaboration tools for small and mid-sized law firms. The partnership in the Clio Bar Association Affinity Program allows our members to subscribe to Clio at a discounted rate. Read more...
Starting Sept. 9, 2013, counsel in cases being argued before the Supreme Court of Virginia may use laptops, tablets or other personal computers during the presentation of oral argument. Written requests and permission will be required. Read more...
At the Summer Meeting banquet, 1999 VBA President David Craig Landin (photo, left) accepted the Walker Award of Merit, which recognizes and appreciates exceptional leadership within the bar. Landin’s service to the organization includes his contributions as an officer and his longtime leadership of the VBA Committee on Special Issues of National & State Importance.
W. David Harless (photo, right), immediate past president of the VSB, received a special resolution (PDF) of appreciation for his exemplary leadership of the Virginia State Bar. The resolution, approved by the VBA Board of Governors, applauds Harless' lasting contributions in fostering mutual respect and communication among bar associations. Harless has been a VBA member since 1983.
George Keith Martin, the managing partner of the McGuireWoods LLP office in Richmond, became rector of his undergraduate alma mater on July 1. He succeeds Helen E. Dragas as the leader of the university's Board of Visitors, its governing body. Martin, a VBA member since 1992 who is serving a second three-year term on the Law Practice Management Division Council, was appointed to the Board of Visitors by Gov. Bob McDonnell in July 2011.(Photo from McGuireWoods website.)
The Virginia State Capitol provided the backdrop for a gathering of key stakeholders in this year's flagship project of the VBA Law Practice Management Division. Called JDPlus, the project aims to provide ways to narrow or bridge the wide and growing gap between the costly training that law schools provide and the needs of legal graduates, employers and consumers of legal services. Three possible initiatives will be investigated further: developing more and alternative work experiences; creating a competencies compact between law schools and legal employers; and compiling a data library with information to inform and assist all constituents of legal services.
Legislative updates about reforms to the Code of Virginia are one benefit of joining the 19 specialty law sections of the VBA. Stay ahead of changes in the law. Join a section for $25 a year. VBA members can join online or via mail or fax.
Broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff will moderate the VBA-sponsored debate by gubernatorial candidates in July.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have the co-anchor of ‘PBS NewsHour’ – and someone with Judy Woodruff’s experience in political coverage – as our moderator,” VBA President Tom Bagby said. “This debate is likely to receive national attention and certainly will be one to attend.” (Read the VBA member email.)
The debate between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli will take place at 11 a.m. July 20 at The Homestead resort in Hot Springs. The debate, a Saturday highlight of the 123rd Summer Meeting, is open to members, guests, the general public and the news media. The VBA invites all members to submit questions for possible use in the debate.
Watch history unfold during the VBA Summer Meeting when Virginia's major party candidates running for governor debate at 11 a.m. July 20 at The Homestead. Got a question you'd like posed to the candidates? Submit it for moderator consideration.
VBA member Sharon D. Nelson, who serves on the LPMD Council, became the 75th president of the Virginia State Bar on June 14. She succeeded 2012-2013 VSB President W. David Harless of Richmond, also a VBA member. A Fairfax lawyer, Nelson is president of Sensei Enterprises Inc. Another VBA member, Kevin E. Martingayle of Virginia Beach, is president-elect of the mandatory bar.
As president of the Virginia State Bar, W. David Harless has recognized the support of the VBA and its leadership to the Virginia State Bar. He has made special presentations to the VBA 2012 and 2011 presidents, Hugh M. Fain III of Spotts Fain and Lucia Anna "Pia" Trigiani of MercerTrigiani, respectively.
The 123rd Summer Meeting offers something for all VBA members. Find the details on the conference events page, vba.org/vbasummer13. Meeting registration is open and The Homestead is ready to make your room reservation(PDF). Save your seat (and $) by registering before July 8. Rooms must be booked via mail or fax by June 27 for the discounted group rate. See you in Hot Springs on July 18-21.
The Governance Committee of the VBA's statewide Board of Governors wants to hear from you. The committee this fall will recommend members to fill six seats on the board. Terms run three years and service begins in January 2014. Nominees will be considered from Tidewater (1 vacancy), Blue Ridge (1) and Capitol (3) regions, as well as for one (1) at-large position currently held by a member in the Southwest region. Submit nominations before June 21 by sending an email to Executive Director Yvonne McGhee. Please state why you are interested in serving the VBA and list your VBA involvement to date.
President Obama's nominees to fill three vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit include VBA member Patricia A. Millett. A VBA Appellate Section Council member, she is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in Washington and leads the firm's Supreme Court practice and co-heads its national appellate practice. Washingtonian featured her in a blog post June 4, the day the news broke. The U.S. Senate holds hearings to determine whether to confirm such nominees.
The Supreme Court of Virginia welcomes comments on proposed changes to Rule 3A:11(PDF), related to discovery in criminal cases. Comments should be submitted by July 1. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and put "comment on criminal discovery Rule" in the subject line.
The campaigns of the Republican and Democrat seeking election as Virginia's next governor have acknowledged an invitation for the candidates to debate during the 123rd VBA Summer Meeting. Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli are set to debate at 11 a.m. July 20 at The Homestead. For more than 25 years, the nonpartisan VBA has sponsored debates among candidates for statewide office. The events help fulfill the VBA’s commitment to serving the public and the legal profession. Through the debates, the VBA seeks to educate the electorate about candidate views on issues and to stimulate voter interest and participation in the election process.
The VBA Committee on Federal Judgeships -- Eastern District will review applicants to succeed Judge James Spencer, who plans to take senior status in March 2014. The committee's work follows a request by U.S. Sens. John Warner and Tim Kaine for statewide bar groups to provide input before they nominate a candidate. Interested individuals should submit the VSB questionnaire (vsb.org), a resume or CV, and a writing sample by email to VBA Executive Director Yvonne McGhee. The deadline for submissions was 4 p.m. June 7.
Candidates can apply to fill vacancies in six Judicial Circuits and submit their questionnaires to the governor. The openings are in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 20th and 25th Judicial Circuits. These seats were left unfilled when the General Assembly adjourned April 4. Any gubernatorial appointments to the bench will serve until 30 days after the 2014 General Assembly session begins. Continued service will require election by the General Assembly. Gov. Bob McDonnell said he "will be seeking out the most qualified candidates for these positions."
Changes to Rules 1A:1 and 1A:3, relating to the "foreign attorney" rules of court, have been proposed and are open for review. They address the admission of foreign attorneys to practice in Virginia without examination, and the procedure to revoke certificates issued to foreign attorneys. The Supreme Court of Virginia revised a proposed rules version in October 2012 after receiving comments. A new comment period was open until May 31, 2013.
A pilot program of the Virginia Judiciary E-Filing System started April 15 in Norfolk Circuit Court. Initially, a limited number of attorneys will be registered to use the automated system for filings in most civil cases. The system, developed by the Office of the Executive Secretary, is designed to improve the efficiency of the circuit court clerks' offices by integrating with the existing statewide case management, case imaging and financial management systems. The Office of the Executive Secretary expects other pilot programs to begin within six months. Eventually, the e-filing system will be expanded to all Virginia circuit courts.
Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat running for governor of Virginia, announced in April that he agreed to take part in five debates, including one on July 20 at the VBA Summer Meeting in Hot Springs. Republican challenger Ken Cuccinelli, currently attorney general, in mid-May proposed 15 debates before the November election. The VBA has a long history of presenting debates involving candidates for statewide office. The most recent was in 2012 with U.S. Senate candidates Tim Kaine and George Allen, moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley.
Pro bono attorneys affiliated with the Lewis B. Puller Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic at the William & Mary Law School received the 2013 Lewis F. Powell Jr. Pro Bono Award from the Virginia State Bar Legal Services Committee. At the awards presentation on April 15, Dean Davison Douglas accepted the honor. Douglas served on the VBA Board of Governors as law school representative from 2010 to 2013. The VBA Veterans Issues Task Force raised more than $25,000 to support the Veterans Benefits Clinic. Those contributions enabled law students to assist more than 300 veterans and their families and for the clinic to carry an active caseload of more than 40 files. Many of those cases involved filing claims and appealing adverse decisions for disability compensation with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The late Murray J. Janus and Roderick B. Mathews, both of whom had been VBA members, were honored at the Rule of Law Award reception and ceremony May 8 at the Virginia Holocaust Museum in Richmond. Constitutional scholar and University of Virginia School of Law Professor A.E. Dick Howard was the keynote speaker. The event was sponsored by the Nuremberg Courtroom Committee of the museum and the Virginia Law Foundation.
In six years, hundreds of law offices across Virginia have participated in a friendly little outside-the-courtroom competition that benefits Virginia communities. The contest is the Legal Food Frenzy. The 2013 version of this spring ritual began Monday, April 1. Share your office plans with the local news media, which has been notified of the April 1-12 contest dates. All attorneys, legal staff and clients who get involved by contributing food and funds are winners, but a special few who out-raise their peers will be recognized at a ceremony in the Executive Mansion.
When the forecast is "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," only one choice of action is appropriate: a book tasting. On April 19, the Mentor Program/Capitol of the VBA Young Lawyers Division will serve up the title protein to second- and third-graders at Woodville Elementary in Richmond. They will choose their favorite flavor. Meanwhile, Judge Robert L. Gregory of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals will read the highly rated Judi Barrett story to the children.
Are you familiar with the Town Hall Meeting/Capitol Committee of the Young Lawyers Division? A packed house got acquainted at a free Law Over Lunch presentation at the University of Richmond Downtown campus on April 9. The committee co-sponsored a panel discussion on the issue of rights restoration for ex-offenders. The presentation qualified for 1.5 CLE hours.
Saying "It is critical that as our economy recovers that we fill some of our key judicial vacancies," Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed filling 11 more posts and creating a new 15th Judicial Circuit seat to alleviate a high caseload in that circuit. The General Assembly approved the additional funding at its reconvened session in April. Overall, the budget finances 32 of 49 vacancies. The General Assembly also elected eight circuit judges, 11 general district judges and six juvenile and domestic relations judges.
Eleven VBA members join the notable contributors in all career fields in the 2013 list of Influential Women of Virginia. The list is compiled by Virginia Lawyers Media, publisher of Virginia Lawyers Weekly. The fifth annual recognition of the outstanding efforts of women acknowledges Judge Teresa Chafin, Cassandra C. Collins, Quinn Feldmann Graeff, Judge Teena Grodner, Margaret F. Hardy. Also: Judge Lisa Mayne, Kathleen McCauley, Martha Medley, VBA Board of Governors representative Monica Taylor Monday, Judge Mary Grace O'Brien and Elizabeth G. Perrow. In May, the weekly newspaper will profile each honoree in a special supplement.
In his latest update on the 2013 legislative session (PDF), lobbyist and VBA member Jay Spruill reports that Gov. Bob McDonnell has approved two bills proposed by the Association and its affiliate groups. One allows State Corporation Commission attorneys to perform pro bono services, and the other clarifies the methods of long-arm service of process. Both become effective July 1. The governor's review of legislation that came out of the General Assembly term this winter continues.
"The VBA strongly supports filling as many judicial vacancies as possible," The Virginia Bar Association commented after the state House and Senate approved a budget that fills 20 judicial vacancies. Virginia Lawyers Weekly wrote about the matter in the VLW blog on Sunday. "The current unfilled judicial vacancies, and the resulting overload in our courts, adversely affects the administration of justice in the Commonwealth."
"While we would have liked to have seen more vacancies filled under the budget plan approved by the General Assembly on Saturday, we understand that certain legislators may have wanted to wait for the results of the weighted caseload study from the Supreme Court before filling more vacancies. We hope that after the study is completed, the Virginia General Assembly will do more to address the current critical shortage of judges."
As of the fifth full week of the 2013 General Assembly session, 13 of the 17 bills the VBA had introduced on behalf of its various sections and affiliated organizations had passed the House or Senate where introduced. VBA lobbyist Jay Spruill provides an update. Results of the continuing bill progress at the State Capitol is updated in table form every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the session. The VBA also is actively supporting, opposing, or seeking to modify a host of other bills before state lawmakers.
The path leading to the Hon. John Charles Thomas's Carnegie Hall poetry recitation Feb. 23 reads like epic free verse. Distinction, the Hampton Roads lifestyle magazine, describes his journey in the article "Poetic Justice" in its Feb. 17 issue. His New York City appearance in "The Allure of the Muse" was featured on page 36 in this winter's VBA Journal.