Concept unique among bar groups in Virginia;
bar center advances Law Partner for Life goal
VBA President James Patrick Guy II today (Dec. 6, 2016) signed a long-term lease for a new home for Virginia’s largest and first voluntary statewide bar organization.
The new headquarters means a move from a building in which The Virginia Bar Association has had an office since hiring its first paid staff member 33 years ago. But more than that, the new site in downtown Richmond will provide members a place to learn, network, work and conduct VBA business.
The new office and member center will be on the ninth floor of the Bank of America Center. At least half the 7,300 square footage will be dedicated to member use.
“If our staff offices are the VBA's home, the member center will be like our front porch, and like any good Southern porch, it will be a welcoming space for meeting, greeting and gathering, both socially and to get stuff done,” Guy said.
The new space will be within easy walking distance of state and federal courthouses, the legislature and state agency offices – and a convenient place to spend 45 minutes downtown between appointments, or to book a half-day of client meetings in Richmond.
About the new member center
The floor plan calls for a large conference room that seats 26 – double the size in the existing 701 E. Franklin St. office and large enough to accommodate the VBA Board of Governors. Other conference rooms seat six to eight, and huddle rooms serve four.
The addition of larger and more meeting space, including access to the building’s conference center on the third floor, is expected to be a boon for the VBA’s 20 substantive law sections, seven committees, four affiliated groups and its Young Lawyers Division and Law Practice Management Division and their leadership councils.
Other business services
Lounge areas with outlets to recharge or power electronic devices
Networking and mentoring space
Video conferencing equipment
Private phone room
According to a 2014 survey by the American Bar Association, only a handful of bar groups across the nation offer work space to members.
The idea to add a member center to better align the organization with its member-focused mission and priorities came out of the VBA Strategic Facility Plan Advisory Committee. Its task began more than two years ago in anticipation of the 2016 lease expiration for the existing East Franklin Street space. The VBA office will remain in place until the move.
At the new location, the eight VBA staff members will continue to perform the first-class support and administrative functions of the association in a connected area, separate from the member center. A move-in date has not been set.
Christina Lee Jeffries, a partner and co-founder of 7 Hills Advisors in Richmond, represented the VBA in its search for a new home.
A special VBA committee, chaired by President-elect David S. Mercer, is planning grand opening and open house events to introduce members to the new space.
Construction of the VBA headquarters will be handled by RGI General Contractors, using a design created by Richmond firm SMBW.
The landlord at Bank of America Center is RVA 1111 East Main Tower LP. CB Richard Ellis of Virginia Inc. served as the landlord’s broker. The building is managed by Jones Lang LaSalle Americas Inc.
The Virginia Bar Association (www.vba.org), the first statewide organization for lawyers in Virginia, is the largest voluntary bar association in the commonwealth, with 4,800 members. From its inception in 1888 to today, the VBA seeks to further the efficient and equitable administration of justice. Its members work to improve the law, serve the people of Virginia and engage with like-minded lawyers. The association actively proposes and promotes legislative changes that are in the public interest.
The VBA plans to hold the traditional first-in-the-state debate of candidates for the statewide office of governor at its Summer Meeting, July 22, 2017, at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.