The number of lawyers in the General Assembly continues to decline, and the president of the Virginia State Bar is urging attorneys to help change the trend.
Only14 of the 40 Senators and 25 out of 100 Delegates are lawyers, according to the Assembly’s clerks’ offices. Combining the numbers, about 28 percent of the state legislators practice law.
The proportion was 31 percent in 2009 when members of a Virginia Bar Association panel lamented the decline in lawyer-legislators. At the time, non-lawyer legislators were struggling with the complexities of regulating scientific evidence in criminal cases.
VSB President George Shanks told members of the Salem/Roanoke County Bar Association Monday more lawyers are needed in the Assembly to help non-lawyers understand the impact of their decisions on the judicial system.
Shanks said the 2011 effort to use lawyers’ bar dues for the state budget and ongoing problems filling judicial vacancies reflect a limited appreciation of courts and lawyers.
“The failure to fully fund the judicial system is an invitation to disaster unlike any other,” Shanks said.