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State Bar

    A lawyer and
layperson’s reference.
                          About the Virginia State Bar                                                   Governance
          The Virginia State Bar is an administrative arm of the Supreme
          Court of Virginia. It provides a wide range of services to the                      Supreme Court of Virginia
          citizens of Virginia and the legal profession.

          Purpose              The mission of the Virginia State Bar, as an
                               administrative agency of the Supreme Court of
                               Virginia, is (1) to regulate the legal profession                   Virginia State Bar Council
                               of Virginia; (2) to advance the availability and               77 members, elected by Virginia lawyers
                               quality of legal services provided to the people                     or appointed by the Court
                               of Virginia; and (3) to assist in improving the
                               legal profession and the judicial system.

          Members              All lawyers admitted to practice in Virginia register,
                               pay dues, and comply with licensing requirements.                       Executive Committee
                                                                                                           12 members
                               More than 25,000 lawyers are active members
                               eligible to practice in Virginia.

                               More than 39,000 lawyers are registered in all
                               categories of membership, including associate,                      President & President-Elect
                               judicial and retired.                                             President-Elect is elected annually
                                                                                                    by the full VSB membership
          Funding              The VSB is supported entirely by lawyer dues,                and becomes President after a one-year term
                               self-generated income and volunteer service.

                               It receives no tax dollars.

                                                                                           Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer
                                                                                         Hired and supervised by the Council and the Court

                                                                                                      VSB Staff and Volunteers
                                                                                        Staff of 90, with offices in Richmond and Alexandria.
                                                                                        Hundreds of volunteers contribute thousands of hours
                                                                                                 annually to all operations of the VSB.

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                               Regulation of Lawyers                                          Regulation of Lawyers

                                 ADMISSION TO THE BAR                                                  Admonition; this can be public or
                                                                                                       private, depending on the severity of
          Requirements               A degree from an American Bar                                     the misconduct.
                                     Association-accredited law school or the
                                                                                                       In many cases, a sanction includes
                                     Virginia Law Reader Program.
                                                                                                       terms with which the lawyer must com-
                                                                                                       ply, such as undergoing a practice man-
                                     A passing grade on a rigorous two-day
                                                                                                       agement audit or taking ethics courses.
                                     examination administered by the
                                     Virginia Board of Bar Examiners.                                  All public discipline is posted on the
                                     Alternately, lawyers licensed in another                          VSB’s Web site, All
                                     state can be admitted without taking                              discipline becomes part of the attorney’s
                                     the exam if Virginia has a reciprocal                             permanent record.
                                     agreement with that state.
                                                                                 Misconduct Hearings Disciplinary cases are heard by:
                                     Passing the Board of Bar Examiner’s
                                     character and fitness exam.                                       A district disciplinary committee of
                                                                                                       lawyer and lay volunteers from the
                                     A license issued by the board.                                    accused lawyer’s community;

                                  RULES FOR LAWYERS                                                    In more serious cases, the VSB
                                                                                                       Disciplinary Board, made up of lawyer
          Requirements for practicing law in Virginia are set out in the                               and lay volunteers; or
          Supreme Court of Virginia’s rules and in Virginia law. The VSB
          publishes the re q u i rements annually as P rofessional Guidelines.                         Three circuit judges appointed by the
                                                                                                       Supreme Court of Virginia.
                           WHEN A LAWYER BREAKS THE RULES
                                                                                                       An attorney may appeal a finding
          The VSB’s attorneys and investigators investigate and, when                                  to the Supreme Court if the attorney
          appropriate, prosecute complaints against lawyers.                                           has not agreed to the finding in an
                                                                                                       agreed disposition.
          Sanctions                  Revocation; permanent, unless the
                                     lawyer successfully petitions the
                                     Supreme Court for reinstatement.
                                     Suspension for a period of time.
                                     Public reprimand.
                                     Private reprimand.

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                                Regulation of Lawyers                                            Services for Lawyers
          Receiverships               When a lawyer’s practice no longer is       Ethics Opinions         Attorneys may request written opinions
                                      being managed due to disability, death                              on ethical issues from the Committee
                                      or abandonment, the VSB employs a                                   on Legal Ethics. Opinions are published
                                      court-appointed receiver to protect                                 in the Virginia Lawyer Register.
                                      clients’ interests and close out the
                                      practice. The VSB is reimbursed from                              PRACTICE SUPPORT
                                      the practice’s assets, where available.
                                      Twenty-two Virginia practices were          Risk Management         Free advice on legal malpractice avoid-
                                      put into receivership in the 2004–2005                              ance, claims repair, professional liability
                                      fiscal year.                                                        insurance issues and law-office manage-
                                                                                                          ment, provided by John J. Brandt.
                               OTHER REGULATORY FUNCTIONS
                                                                                  Confidential Audits     Analysis of law-practice management in
          Practicing Law              A Committee on Unauthorized                                         small and solo firms, provided at
          Without a License           Practice of Law oversees the                                        reduced rates by Janean S. Johnston.
                                      investigation and prosecution of people
                                      who practice law without a license,                               VSB PUBLICATIONS
                                      including lawyers whose licenses are not
                                      in good standing.                           Virginia Lawyer         Magazine published five times per year
                                                                                                          with articles on substantive law, bar
          Lawyer Advertising          A Committee on Lawyer Advertising                                   news, announcements of upcoming
                                      and Solicitation monitors advertising by                            events and advertising of products and
                                      lawyers and law firms to make sure it                               services needed by lawyers and law firm s .
                                      conforms to ethical requirements.
                                      Violations may be prosecuted.               Virginia Lawyer         Published five times alternately with
                                                                                  Register                Virginia Lawyer; documents disciplinary
                                                                                                          outcomes, rule changes, legal ethics
                                Services for Lawyers                                                      opinions and other information impor-
                                                                                                          tant to the regulatory function of the bar.
                                   ETHICS INFORMATION
                                                                                  Brochures               Topics for attorneys include opening a
          Ethics Hotline              VSB staff attorneys provide ethics advice
                                                                                  and Booklets            law office, guardianship and conserva-
                                      to lawyers.
                                                                                                          torship, and brochures that lawyers can
                                                                                                          purchase and give to clients on subjects
                                      The hotline received more than 4,000
                                                                                                          such as wills, estate planning and divorce.
                                      calls in the 2004–2005 fiscal year.

6   • The Virginia State Bar                                                                                                             The Virginia State Bar •   7
                                Services for Lawyers                                                 Services for Lawyers
          Web Site                                              Chief Justice’s          For experienced public defenders and
                                      Posts many VSB publications, lawyer            Indigent Criminal        private attorneys who accept court
                                      training and volunteer opportunities,          Defense Training         appointments to defend indigent people
                                      recent disciplinary actions, real-time         Institute                in criminal cases.
                                      access to Mandatory Continuing Legal
                                      Education compliance and other mem-            Professional             For lawyers who are new to practice;
                                      bership information.                           Development              held in March at the University of
                                                                                     Conference               Virginia’s Darden School of Business
                               CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION                                                     and sponsored by the VSB Young
                                                                                                              Lawyers Conference.
          Virginia lawyers are required to take 12 hours of approved legal
          education annually, including two hours of ethics. The VSB’s               Law School               Professionalism course for first-year
          Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Board sets policy for                 Professionalism          law students.
          the programs, approves courses and tracks compliance. In 2004,             Course
          the board accredited almost 15,000 continuing legal education
          programs in Virginia. The VSB also directly sponsors or supports                                     INSURANCE
          education opportunities, including:
                                                                                     With authority from the General Assembly, the VSB endorses
          Professionalism             Focuses on the rules that govern the           insurance products whose vendors offer Virginia lawyers dis-
          Course                      profession. Every Virginia lawyer must         counts and other special benefits. Lawyers are free to select other
                                      take it once, in the first year of practice.   commercial products.

          CLE Programs                Sponsored throughout the year and at           Personal Insurance       Health, life and disability income plans
                                      the VSB Annual Meeting by the bar’s                                     are brokered through the Insurance
                                      sections, committees and conferences.                                   Center for Virginia State Bar Members.
                                                                                                              A health plan with Anthem protects
          Midyear Legal               Education programs in a vacation                                        more than 4,000 Virginia attorneys,
          Seminar                     setting, sometimes outside the United                                   their families and staff.
                                      States. The seminar is self-supporting.
                                                                                     Legal Malpractice        The endorsed vendor is Attorneys
          Solo & Small-Firm           Held in different locations around the         Insurance                Liability Protection Society (ALPS).
          Forum                       state, this forum provides law-office                                   Virginia lawyers are not required to have
                                      management training. During a Town                                      malpractice insurance, but they are
                                      Hall Meeting following each forum,                                      required to report to the VSB whether
                                      lawyers can discuss their concerns and                                  they have a policy in place, and the bar
                                      questions with Supreme Court justices                                   posts this information on its Web site.
                                      and VSB officials.

8   • The Virginia State Bar                                                                                                                 The Virginia State Bar •   9
                                 Services for Lawyers                                          Services for Lawyers
                                 PRO BONO OPPORTUNITIES                                              The sections are supported by section
         The VSB’s Access to Legal Services Committee encourages                                     dues, which range from $10 to $35.
         lawyers to contribute pro bono publico services to address unmet                            The sections are:
         legal needs. The bar is currently recruiting for several programs.
                                                                                                     Administrative Law
         Legal Assistance for          An American Bar Association project to                        Antitrust Law
         Military Personnel            help low-income members of the                                Bankruptcy Law
                                       National Guard, reserves and dependents.                      Business Law
                                                                                                     Construction Law
         Section 1983 Appeals For indigent inmates.                                                  Corporate Counsel
                                                                                                     Criminal Law
         Virginia Lawyers              The Chief Justice’s project to provide                        Education of Lawyers
         Helping Families              representation in child custody and                           Environmental Law
                                       visitation cases.                                             Family Law
                                                                                                     General Practice
         Virginia Corps                A Governor’s Office program for emer-                         Health Law
                                       gency preparedness.                                           Intellectual Property
                                                                                                     International Practice
                                SUBSTANCE ABUSE ASSISTANCE                                           Litigation
         Lawyers Helping Lawyers (LHL), a nonprofit corporation that                                 Local Government Law
         provides substance abuse and mental health services to impaired                             Military Law
         lawyers, receives financial support from the VSB. A statewide                               Real Property
         network of volunteers and a professional staff assist LHL in its                            Taxation
         mission. Individuals may call for confidential help. The VSB                                Trusts and Estates
         disciplinary system also makes referrals to LHL when misconduct
         cases involve mental health or substance abuse issues.                   Young Lawyers      A vehicle for new attorneys to get
                                                                                  Conference (YLC)   involved with the Virginia State Bar.
                                    SPECIALTY GROUPS                                                 Membership is automatic for lawyers age
                                                                                                     36 and younger or in their first three
         The VSB sponsors numerous groups for lawyers with common
                                                                                                     years of practice. No additional dues are
         interests. These include:
                                                                                                     charged. Members receive the YLC’s
         Practice Sections             Provide education and networking                              newsletter, Docket Call. Conference
                                       opportunities in 20 areas of substantive                      activities include admission and orienta-
                                       law. Each section elects officers, and                        tion programs, no-bills nights, minority
                                       most publish newsletters about legal                          recruitment conferences, emergency
                                       developments and post their programs                          legal services after large-scale disasters,
                                       and news on the VSB Web site,                                 and other community outreach projects.

10   • The Virginia State Bar                                                                                                      The Virginia State Bar •   11
                                Services for Lawyers                                             Services for Lawyers
         Senior Lawyers             For all members age 55 and older, this                                  AWARDS
         Conference                 conference focuses on issues of interest
                                                                                  The VSB recognizes outstanding attorneys and bar associations
                                    to senior lawyers and promotion of the
                                                                                  with awards presented throughout the year. Qualifications are
                                    welfare of senior citizens. The SLC pro-
                                                                                  published on the VSB Web site at and in Virginia
                                    duces a Senior Citizens Handbook and
                                                                                  Lawyer magazine. Awards are:
                                    provides speakers to encourage lawyers
                                    to plan for closing out their practices in
                                                                                  Awards of Merit/       For projects sponsored by local and
                                    the event of disability or death. It also
                                                                                  Certificates of        specialty bar associations.
                                    addresses legislative issues such as
                                    guardianship of adults and regulation of
                                    assisted-living facilities.
                                                                                  Fifty-Year Awards      For attorneys who have been licensed
                                                                                                         in Virginia for 50 years.
         Conference of Local        Provides support to 135 local and
         Bar Associations           specialty bar associations in Virginia.
                                                                                  Harry L. Carrico       For contributions to the criminal
         (CLBA)                     The CLBA sponsors a Bar Leaders
                                                                                  Professionalism        justice system.
                                    Institute each year to help new local and     Award
                                    statewide bar officers plan their bar year;
                                    publishes So You’re 18, a booklet on          Legal Aid Award        For attorneys employed by licensed
                                    legal responsibilities for new adults;                               legal aid societies.
                                    maintains an information database and a
                                    local bar resource and videotape library;     Lewis F. Powell Jr.    For individual attorneys and
                                    and makes executive committee and             Pro Bono Award         attorney groups.
                                    staff members available for technical
                                    assistance or presentations to local bars.    Lifetime               For family law practitioners.
                                                                                  Achievement Award
         Judicial Issues            The VSB Committee on Bench-Bar
                                    Relations brings attorneys and judges         Local Bar Leader of    Presented by the Conference of
                                    together from across the state to foster      the Year Award         Local Bar Associations.
                                    communication and to review the
                                    process for evaluating, nominating, elect-    Oliver W. Hill         For a law student’s achievement in
                                    ing and retaining state judges. A Judicial    Student Pro Bono       pro bono and undercompensated
                                    Nominations Committee reviews the             Award                  public service work.
                                    candidates for judgeships and makes
                                    recommendations to the General                R. Edwin Burnette Jr. Presented by the Young
                                    Assembly or Governor.                         Young Lawyer of       Lawyers Conference.
                                                                                  the Year Award

                                                                                  Tradition of           For general practitioners.
                                                                                  Excellence Award

12   • The Virginia State Bar                                                                                                            The Virginia State Bar •   13
                                 Services for Lawyers                                         Services for the Public

                                    ANNUAL MEETING                                                   FINDING A LAWYER

         The Virginia State Bar Annual Meeting is held at Virginia Beach       The Virginia State Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service provides callers
         in June. Spanning several beachfront hotels, it draws hundreds of     with the name and telephone number of a lawyer who has indi-
         lawyers, judges and families for social and educational activities    cated an interest in handling the caller’s type of problem. The
         sponsored by VSB practice sections, committees and conferences.       lawyer will consult for up to a half hour for a fee of $35. If addi-
         Several statewide bar and bar-related groups — the Virginia           tional time is needed, the lawyer and client negotiate further fees.
         Association of Defense Attorneys, Virginia Trial Lawyers
         Association, Virginia Women Attorneys Association, Virginia Law       In 2004, the service received more than 28,000 calls and made
         Foundation and Virginia CLE — also host programs. A Lawyer’s          more than 21,000 referrals. The service assisted many more indi-
         Expo offers the latest in law office technology, legal publications   viduals with referrals to public service or governmental agencies.
         and related services.                                                 About 1,000 attorneys participate in the program.

                                Services for the Public                                   LEGAL AID AND PRO BONO SUPPORT

                                CLIENTS’ PROTECTION FUND                       The VSB’s Access to Legal Services program works to
                                                                               ensure that legal representation is available to the poor. It is
         Reimburses clients who have suffered financial losses because of      responsible for:
         dishonest conduct by Virginia lawyers. The fund is a remedy of
         last resort for clients who are not able to obtain reimbursement      Legal Aid Societies       The VSB licenses and monitors societies
         from other sources, such as the lawyer involved. The fund has                                   and makes the information available to
         paid out more than $3 million on more than 830 claims since it                                  the public.
         was established in 1976.
                                                                               Crisis Referral           The program helps members of the pub-
                                                                                                         lic in crisis situations locate information
                                      FEE DISPUTES                                                       about free or reduced-fee civil and
                                                                                                         appellate legal services.
         For complaints about legal fees, the VSB provides a Fee Dispute
         Resolution arbitration service. Both the lawyer and client must       Pro Se Assistance         The program provides information about
         agree to participate and to abide by the decision of the arbiter.                               community legal education to self-rep-
                                                                                                         resented litigants.

14   • The Virginia State Bar                                                                                                          The Virginia State Bar •   15
                                Services for the Public                                           Services for the Public

                                EMERGENCY LEGAL SERVICES                                                 SPEAKERS BUREAU

         Post-Disaster Help           After natural disasters and other declared    Schools and civic groups in search of volunteer speakers on legal
                                      e m e rgencies, the VSB’s Young Lawyers       topics are matched with lawyers in their communities by the VSB
                                      C o n f e rence provides specially trained    Speakers Bureau.
                                      volunteer lawyers to help affected citi-
                                      zens with legal needs. This program is                         LAW-RELATED EDUCATION
                                      cosponsored by The Virginia Bar
                                      Association’s Young Lawyers Division.         Minority Pre-Law        A one-day seminar that exposes college
                                      The lawyers can be reached through the        Project                 students to Law School Admission Test
                                      VSB’s Lawyer Referral pro g r a m .                                   prep courses, mock law school classes,
                                                                                                            and conversations with lawyers, judges
         Wills for Heroes             Teams of volunteer lawyers help                                       and law students.
                                      Virginia’s first responders — firefighters,
                                      police officers and other rescue work-        Oliver Hill/Samuel      A weeklong residential program on a
                                      ers — with estate planning documents.         Tucker Pre-Law          college campus for minority high school
                                      Wills for Heroes also is shared by the        Institute               students identified as at-risk.
                                      VSB and the VBA young lawyers, in
                                      coordination with local emergency serv-       Law in Society          An essay contest in which high school
                                      ices department.                              Award                   students write about issues related to the
                                                                                                            U.S. Constitution. All winners receive a
                                 VIRGINIA LAW FOUNDATION                                                    dictionary and thesaurus set and a
                                                                                                            plaque. Ten prizes are awarded, ranging
         The Virginia State Bar and The Virginia Bar Association support the                                from honorable mentions ($50 cash or a
         Vi rginia Law Foundation, a nonprofit organization that makes                                      $100 U.S. Savings Bond) to first place
         grants to projects that educate the public about the law and the                                   ($500 cash or a $1,000 Savings Bond).
         legal profession and advance justice in the commonwealth.                                          Sponsored by the Litigation Section and
                                                                                                            the Publications and Public Information
                                   LEGAL INFORMATION                                                        Committee.

         The VSB Publications Department distributes free or low-cost
         booklets and brochures on law-related topics to the public.
         Topics include domestic relations issues, the Bill of Rights, estate
         planning and living wills. A list of publications is available on the
         VSB Web site at

16   • The Virginia State Bar                                                                                                            The Virginia State Bar •   17
            Virginia State Bar Contact Information                            Virginia State Bar Contact Information
         Clerk’s Office (case information)   (804) 775-0539                 Practice Sections                     (804) 775-0516
         Clients’ Protection Fund            (804) 775-0524                                                       sections/index.html

         Complaints about Lawyers            (866) 548-0873 (toll-free)     Press Information                     (804) 775-0585
                                             (804) 775-0570 (in Richmond)
                                          Pro Bono                              (804) 775-0522
         Emergency Legal Services            (800) 552-7977                                                       probono/index.html
           (declared emergencies)
                                                                            Publications                          (804) 775-0586
         Ethics Hotline                      (804) 775-0564                                             
         Fee Disputes                        (804) 775-0521
                                                                            Risk Manager—John Brandt              (800) 215-7354 (toll-free)
         Finding a Lawyer —                  (800) 552-7977 (toll-free)
           Lawyer Referral                   (804) 775-0808 (in Richmond)   Senior Lawyers Conference             (804) 775-0576
         Insurance for Lawyers:              (877) 214-5239 (toll-free)
           Health, Life, Disability          (804) 353-7681 (in Richmond)   Speakers Bureau                       (804) 775-0586
         Insurance for Lawyers:              (800) 367-2577 (toll-free)                                           publications/speakersbureau/
           Legal Malpractice                                                                                      index.html

         Law-Firm Audits—                    (703) 567-0088                 TTY Device for the                    (804) 775-0502
           Janean Johnston                                                    Hearing Impaired

         Lawyers Helping Lawyers             (804) 644-3414                 Virginia Board of Bar Examiners       (804) 786-7490

         Lawyer Location and Status          (804) 775-0530                 Virginia Law Foundation               (804) 648-0122

                                                                            VSB Web Site                
         Local Bar Associations,             (804) 775-0521
           Conference of               Young Lawyers Conference              (804) 775-0517
         Mandatory Continuing                (804) 775-0577
           Legal Education         

         Practice of Law Without             (800) 548-0873 (toll-free)
           a License                         (804) 775-0570 (in Richmond)   Published October 2005 by the Virginia State Bar Publications Department

18   • The Virginia State Bar                                                                                                         The Virginia State Bar •   19

20   • The Virginia State Bar
                          VIRGINIA STATE BAR
                         Eighth & Main Building
       707 East Main Street, Suite 1500 • Richmond, VA 23219-2800
                     (804) 775-0500 •
Voice/Telecommunications Device for the Hearing Impaired: (804) 775-0502


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