There are 533 newly licensed lawyers in Virginia this morning.
The Supreme Court of Virginia held its twice-yearly admissions and orientation ceremony Dec. 6 in Richmond to admit successful candidates who passed the Virginia bar exam this past July. Virginia Lawyers Weekly reported on the school passage rates of those exam takers in the Nov. 6 edition.
The special session is the only time that the high court sits outside its chambers; the program provided an orientation session put on by the Virginia State Bar Young Lawyers Conference before the administration of the lawyer’s oath.
Of the state law schools, William & Mary had the most names called with 72. The University of Richmond had 68 names called, with George Mason University and the University of Virginia both represented by 47 people.
The orientation portion of the program featured speeches from VSB President Doris Henderson Causey, YLC Chair Christopher R. Fortier and Drew D. Sarrett of Lawyers Helping Lawyers. A & O Committee chair Annie Cai Larson served as emcee.
“Take pride in everything you’ve accomplished to this point and in the work you’ll be doing,” Causey told the gathering of newly licensed attorneys and their guests. “With the license comes great responsibility and authority.”
Causey, who is the first African-American woman to be president of the VSB, challenged the new lawyers to hit the ground running when it comes to doing pro bono work in the community.
“I urge you to take the time and get involved,” she said.
Sarrett hammered home one of the many benefits of Lawyers Helping Lawyers, in that the service is completely free, confidential and non-disciplinary.
“Do not be afraid to seek out the help you may need,” he said. “And if you aren’t affected, chances are you may know a colleague, a friend, or a family member who might need assistance. We have some of the best folks around to help.”
Chief Justice Donald W. Lemons also spoke on what it means to “faithfully demean yourself in the practice of law.”
“Every day in this country there are lawyers who represent unpopular causes and clients. When they do so within the bounds of ethical requirements, they are acting in the highest tradition of the bar,” Lemons said.
Respect for the law and honesty are part of the equation.
“Make it your objective to have the reputation for truthfulness and honesty in all of your dealings,” Lemons said.
Lemons also elaborated on what it means to demean oneself with courtesy.
“Zealous representation of your client and civility are not mutually exclusive,” he said.
Quoting U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, Lemons urged the new lawyers to “work to restore civility to every part of our legal system and public discourse. Civility defines our common cause in advancing the rule of law.”
Updated Dec. 12 to correct and clarify Lemons’ remarks.