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Young Lawyers Division Wins Five National Awards

Friday, August 24, 2018   (0 Comments)
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VBA YLD wins national awards from ABA, ABE in 2018The Young Lawyers Division of The Virginia Bar Association earned four Awards of Achievement among statewide bar groups, continuing a long-running list of successes. The group also surpassed all other Young Lawyer Divisions nationally to win the American Bar Endowment’s Outstanding Public Service Project Award for 2018.

“The ABE reviews all of the state and local submissions in evaluating the winner of this award, and it is only given to one Young Lawyers Division,” said Kristen R. Jurjevich, an attorney with Pender & Coward, P.C., in Virginia Beach and chair of the YLD committee that nominates projects to the American Bar Association for Awards of Achievement.

11th consecutive win

This year’s contest marked the 11th consecutive time that the comprehensive programming of the VBA YLD has earned an Award of Achievement from the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. The 2018 nomination described five programs: Legal Food Frenzy, Washington & Lee University Law School Preview Breakfast Program, Credit Issues Project, Mentor Program, and the Model Judiciary Program.

The other three Awards of Achievement recognized a symposium on diversity in the legal profession in the diversity category, the YLD’s Opening Statement in the newsletter category, and under the public service banner a project that presented a debate of candidates for lieutenant governor. The ABE award also recognized the debate event as “an exceptional, unique and exemplary project of an affiliated young lawyer bar group.”

“It is gratifying to see the dedication and service of our young lawyers recognized at the national level,” said Andrew B. Stockment, chair of the VBA Young Lawyers Division. The VBA Young Lawyers Division seeks to advance the highest ideals of the legal profession through advocacy and volunteer service to the bar and to the public.

“We are especially honored to be the only bar association in the country to receive this year's Outstanding Public Service Award from the American Bar Endowment,” said Stockment, an attorney with Lenhart Pettit in Charlottesville. “I am continually impressed with the exceptional work that our volunteer leaders do throughout the year, and I hope that receiving these awards will inspire more young lawyers to engage in service to the public.”

More than 1,700 strong

The VBA YLD comprises more than 1,700 VBA member lawyers age 36 and younger, as well as those admitted to their first bar less than three years earlier. The YLD leads 20 signature programs, including student VBA chapters at law schools around Virginia.

The ABA YLD Awards of Achievement are designed to encourage other young lawyer organizations to develop service projects in their communities by recognizing the time, effort and skills of young lawyers divisions in local and statewide bar groups. The VBA YLD competes in State Division C of state affiliates with fewer than 3,000 young lawyer members.

The American Bar Endowment supports public service, research and educational programs within the legal profession. Its first Outstanding Public Service Project Award was given in 1980.

Program and project descriptions

More specifics about the VBA YLD projects and programs follow:

TOWN HALL DEBATE – The 2017 lieutenant governor’s race included a small handful of debates. The Young Lawyers Division’s Town Hall Committee, with student VBA representatives of a Richmond law school, presented the only Richmond-area debate for the Democrat and Republican candidates. Organizers coordinated the candidates, a moderator, a panelist, secured television and print media coverage. The result is a more educated electorate and a more visible profile for the VBA and the Young Lawyers Division.

DIVERSITY IN THE LEGAL PROFESSION SYMPOSIUM – This student-driven continuing legal education event was hosted by a Law School Council, or student chapter of the VBA YLD. The four-hour program looked at the business case for diversity, advocating for the underrepresented, overcoming adversity, and lawyering with authenticity. More than 70 individuals registered for the event, including professors, students and legal practitioners.

OPENING STATEMENT – This publication provides a forum for young lawyers to share their knowledge and experiences while highlighting YLD events, promoting a sense of community among the YLD and encouraging involvement. See vba.org/openingstatement.

W&L BREAKFAST – The Law School Council, a student group of the VBA, sponsored a presentation by VBA member and Virginia Bar Exam grader Everett A. Martin Jr. to discuss legal developments in Virginia, explain how bar exams are graded, provide tips on writing successful test essays and answer questions from the audience of recent law school graduates.

CREDIT ISSUES PROJECT – This project informs youths in Virginia about credit so that they can be better prepared for financial realities of adulthood and independence. A brochure and webpage were developed, YLD members participated in a call-in TV program on credit and debt issues, and the leaders of the project queried colleges and university and student groups to assess interest in a slide show presentation.

LEGAL FOOD FRENZY – This year marked the 12th for the annual statewide event to raise food and funds for Virginia food banks. About 120 legal organizations took part in the two-week friendly contest, coordinated and promoted by members of the VBA Young Lawyers Division. They raised nearly 1.5 million pounds worth of food and brought the total provided to Virginia’s hungry to more than 17 million pounds over the life of the project.

MENTOR PROGRAM – This program focuses on elementary and middle school students by offering them mentors, community leaders and role models who emphasize the importance of goal setting, school attendance, academic performance and behavior on a student’s personal and professional future. At Woodville Elementary School in Richmond, the program has been ongoing for 12 years. The Young Lawyers Division initiated a new program at Corporate Landing Middle School in Virginia Beach that navigated the challenges of bullying and difficulties at home and school. Both involve young lawyers, judges, politicians and entrepreneurs as well as law students. Mentors and school administrators at both schools reported significant breakthroughs in academic performance and behavior.

MODEL JUDICIARY PROGRAM – A collaborative effort of the VBA YLD and the Virginia YMCA, this program allows high school students to learn about the judicial system by participating in mock jury trials and appellate arguments. Young lawyers coordinate and administer the mock trials and appeal rounds, and volunteer as coaches for the trial teams. Judges preside. The best student from the appellate arguments participate in a Model Supreme Court. In April, 12 teams from 10 schools presented appellate arguments to a panel of justices from the Supreme Court of Virginia. Afterward, judges and justices answered student questions, discussed cases and the judicial system.

About The Virginia Bar Association

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 about 4,700 members. Its mission is to be the independent voice of the Virginia lawyer, advancing the highest ideals of the profession through advocacy and volunteer service. Its members seek to improve the law, serve the people of Virginia and engage with like-minded lawyers. The VBA is on Twitter and Facebook @VaBarAssn.


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