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VSB seeks nominations for 'milestones' of Virginia law

The Virginia State Bar wants to memorialize significant events and people that contributed to the development of law in the commonwealth and the nation.

Thomas A. Edmonds, executive director of the state agency, got the idea when he wandered into the Memorial Church in Jamestown not too long ago and came across a plaque placed by the VSB in 1959.

The plaque commemorates the reception of English common law by the colony in 1607. King James I, in chartering the colony, declared that its residents “shall have and enjoy all liberties, franchises and immunities as if they had been abiding and borne within the realme of Englande.”

“Since the Magna Carta, the common law has been the cornerstone of individual liberties, even as against the crown. Summarized later in the Bill of Rights, its principals have inspired the development of our system of freedom under law, which is at once our dearest possession and proudest achievement,” the plaque reads.

Edmonds was intrigued. “Obviously that was a significant event, and somebody thought to do that,” he said.

Edmonds said he kept thinking about the plaque as he read David McCullough’s biography of John Adams, with its descriptions of what Adams and his contemporaries contributed to the law of Massachusetts and the nation.

One thing led to another, and the “Milestones” project was born.

Edmonds said he hopes some of the lesser-sung heroes and events will be nominated. Thomas Jefferson and the Statute of Religious Freedom, for example, have been adequately memorialized. Edmonds is looking for the major trials, court decisions, and legal giants that shaped Virginia law to what it is today.

Edmonds is not sure what types of memorials will be established, but he assures lawyers that none of their dues money will pay for the project. He will solicit grants, he said.

Nominations should be submitted in the form of a description (500 words or less), and include the names and addresses of other people knowledgeable about the nominee.

Nominations can be submitted by email to coggin@vsb.org, or mailed to Rodney A. Coggin, Editor, Virginia Lawyer magazine, VSB, 707 E. Main St., Suite 1500, Richmond 23219.

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