"brochures for lawyers"
The Virginia 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. 2 • The Virginia State Bar The Virginia State Bar • 3 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, www.vsb.org. 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. 4 • The Virginia State Bar The Virginia State Bar • 5 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 www.vsb.org 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. www.vsb.org. 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 www.vsb.org 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 Achievement 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 www.vsb.org/publications/orderform.pdf. 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 http://www.vsb.org/ 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) www.vsb.org/inquiry.html Pro Bono (804) 775-0522 http://www.vsb.org/ Emergency Legal Services (800) 552-7977 probono/index.html (declared emergencies) Publications (804) 775-0586 Ethics Hotline (804) 775-0564 http://www.vsb.org/ publications/index.html 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 www.vsb.org/slc/index.html Insurance for Lawyers: (877) 214-5239 (toll-free) Health, Life, Disability (804) 353-7681 (in Richmond) Speakers Bureau (804) 775-0586 http://www.vsb.org/ 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 www.vsb.org Local Bar Associations, (804) 775-0521 Conference of www.vsb.org/clba/index.html Young Lawyers Conference (804) 775-0517 www.vayounglawyers.org Mandatory Continuing (804) 775-0577 Legal Education www.vsb.org/mcle/index.html 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 Notes 20 • The Virginia State Bar VIRGINIA STATE BAR Eighth & Main Building 707 East Main Street, Suite 1500 • Richmond, VA 23219-2800 (804) 775-0500 • www.vsb.org Voice/Telecommunications Device for the Hearing Impaired: (804) 775-0502 10/05