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Young Lawyers Division Projects Earn National Awards

Wednesday, July 29, 2020   (0 Comments)
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The Young Lawyers Division continues its tradition of projects and activities worthy of national honors with four ABA awards in the 2020 Awards of Achievement.

The ABA said the YLD "displayed exceptional COVID-related programming that impressed the judges."

In recognizing the outstanding work of young lawyers organizations across the country, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division singled out the VBA YLD in its statewide and member size division for these programs:

  • Comprehensive
  • Newsletter for Opening Statement
  • Service to the Bar for COVID-19 Unemployment Compensation Training, and
  • Service to the Public for Vets Unit Workshop.


The comprehensive award is for a group of activities. This is the 13th consecutive year the VBA YLD was recognized in the Comprehensive category by the Awards of Achievement. Submitted for consideration were these five projects:

  • Lunch Break Wellness Series (during the beginning of the stay at home response to the pandemic)
  • Pro Bono Hotline
  • Law School Councils programs at three law schools
  • Wills for Healthcare Heroes and
  • National Moot Court Competition - Region IV

The Lunch Break Wellness Series was a weekly offering of 30-minute wellness and fitness classes, including yoga, stretching, a mat Pilates class and a meditation class. A couple classes were jointly held and co-sponsored with other bar associations.

The Pro Bono Hotline involves attorney volunteers going to the Blue Ridge Legal Services office on Thursdays to respond to specific questions that clients have regarding domestic issues. Each volunteer spends about two hours and calls four or five clients. Because of the pandemic, this service for clients who do not qualify or need full representation from a full-time Blue Ridge Legal Services attorney was temporarily suspended at the end of March 2020.

W&M Law School Council's Scrabble Word WallThe three law school council activities were with William & Mary, UVA and Regent, and focused on community service and young lawyer development and networking. At W&M, the council built a Scrabble Word wall for the library at James Blair Middle School to encourage children to read. At UVA, two programs were submitted for the award: a student and practitioner meet and greet, and a 1L panel where 2Ls and 3Ls discussed their experience with applying for jobs. At Regent, its Law School Council took part in a two-day retreat to Sandbridge for a Journey of Generosity. Retreats, which happen across the country, are organized and facilitated by Generous Giving, a company founded in 2000 by The Maclellan Foundation.

Wills for Healthcare Heroes was another new project in response to COVID-19, in an expanded, temporary version of the Wills for Heroes national not-for-profit program that this program initiated. Volunteers provide virtual basic estate planning services to essential healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic. In Virginia, this program is jointly presented by the YLD and the Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference.

The National Moot Court Competition project coordinates all elements of a regional contest for law students in the mid-Atlantic area, from outreach to law schools to grading briefs and recruiting judges.


Latest issue of the YLD newsletterSince Opening Statement was created in 2012, it has become the primary communication tool for the YLD to division members and to the senior bar. Its mission is to tell the story of the YLD while providing a forum for young lawyers to share their knowledge and experiences and promoting a sense of community. As a result of the coverage of YLD events, more young lawyers have become engaged in the YLD, participated in bar activities and events, assumed leadership positions in the YLD and participated in senior bar projects.

Service to the Bar

In light of the pandemic, and understanding that unemployment compensation claims would increase, the YLD identified a need for attorney volunteers to help claimants that could not afford legal services to navigate the process. After meeting with legal aid directors and members of the pro bono community, the YLD organized and presented in early April a free, two-hour MCLE webinar that trained about 100 attorneys on handling an unemployment compensation claims.

Service to the Public

The Vets Unit Workshop was a two-hour event in Virginia Beach, with its the large military and veteran population, about veteran suicide prevention and how to help veterans transition to a positive and healthy civilian life after military service. Emergency custody orders, police department welfare checks and warning signs of suicide were discussed as were nonlegal resources to help prevent suicides.

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