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Principles of Professionalism for Local Bars
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TO: Local Bar Leaders

FROM: Thomas E. Spahn, Chair
The Virginia Bar Association Commission on Professionalism

Dear Local Bar Leader,

Thank you very much for your help in our historically successful rollout of the Principles of Professionalism for Virginia Lawyers. Thanks to you and other leaders of bar groups and law firms, we have circulated the Principles to many thousands of Virginia lawyers.

To follow up on our rollout-day efforts, in 2019 we are offering free copies of the Principles and a reduced rate framing opportunity. We are also offering a free "turn-key" program that focuses on professionalism that qualifies for MCLE (ethics) credit.

Both of these projects are described below in this message, and we would appreciate your reading it or passing it along to your successor or whoever deals with issues like this at your bar association.

Copies of the Principles (and framing options)

In order to facilitate display of the Principles in every courthouse in Virginia, The Virginia Bar Association agreed to provide to all local bar associations (free of charge) copies of the Principles of Professionalism that are suitable for framing. Contact the VBA at or 804-644-0041, to obtain one or more unframed copies.

The VBA has also negotiated a reduced rate for obtaining framed 12" x 16" copies of the Principles. With a plain black frame, 1" black mat, assembled, packaged and shipped in Virginia, the price is $95 with glass or $104 with acrylic covering, plus sales tax. With an ornamental frame, the price is $114 with glass and $123 with acrylic, plus sales tax. Prices are good until Oct. 16, 2019. If you are interested in this offer, contact the framer directly at or 804-744-6490.

Of course, you are free to have a copy or copies of the Principles framed however you wish, and you may also want to check for any specific requirement of your local court or courts. For instance, we understand that acrylic or some other impact-resistant alternative to glass may be required in some courthouses.

Local bar associations are encouraged to work with the court or courts in their respective localities to arrange for the Principles to hang in their respective Virginia courthouses. To assure this goal, we have tried to make it as easy as possible for you to obtain and frame the Principles for presentation to your court. Although you may handle this in any way you wish, some bar organizations have held ceremonial unveilings of the framed copy of the Principles as part of a bench-bar conference that also includes the CLE program discussed below. 

CLE Program

We have now placed on the Virginia Bar Association website materials that your bar can use to present a CLE program focusing on Professionalism.  The hypotheticals and analyses have been updated in 2019.

As you will see, the materials include a "Teacher's Manual" that tells you how to set up the program, how to select the best hypotheticals for your audience, and how to obtain ethics MCLE credit.  

The materials below include a set of hypotheticals (Attachment 11) that you can hand out to the audience before the program and a separate document to hand out after the program that repeats the hypotheticals and provides an in-depth analysis of each one (Attachment 12). 

Finally, the materials include what we call "Teacher's Version of Hypotheticals and Analyses (With Summaries, Discussion Points, Etc.)." This document contains an easy-to-read summary of each hypothetical and analysis in large font and bullet-point fashion to make it easier to use. The document also contains discussion points that a teacher can use to prompt audience participation at the CLE program. 

As you will see in the "Teacher's Manual," there are enough hypotheticals to support a two-hour program, although we suggest that a one-hour program generally would be more appropriate.     

We invite you or any other Virginia lawyer to download and use these materials at any time.

Although all of us (with your help) have already made history in Virginia by adopting statewide aspirational standards of courteous behavior, we hope to keep up the momentum in our effort to encourage lawyer civility. Both the CLE programs and the courthouse presentations will go a long way toward advancing the cause of professionalism statewide. 

As indicated in the Principles' preamble, Virginia can take special pride in our profession. Please join us in continuing Virginia's leadership role. 

We stand ready to help in any way that we can. VBA member Tom Spahn of McGuireWoods would be happy to consult about any professionalism-focused ethics program you would like to present using these materials.

Principles of Professionalism Documents

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