The Conference of Local and Specialty Bar Associations has recognized two individual bars with four projects between them, and two multi-bar projects across the Commonwealth with Awards of Merit.
This competition is designed to recognize outstanding projects and programs of local and specialty bar associations; share successful programming ideas and resources with all bar associations; encourage greater service to the bench, bar, and public; and inform the public about some of the excellent work of local and specialty bars and the legal profession in general.
This year’s Awards of Merit winners are:
Roanoke Bar Association (2 awards)
You and the Law: Navigating Bankruptcy & Evictions During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Part of an 11-year ongoing education program the 2021 iteration of You and the Law focused on “Navigating Bankruptcy and Evictions During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The Roanoke Bar Association’s goal is to brand the You and the Law name so that the public becomes familiar with the name and associates it with the legal profession.
Since 2013, the Roanoke Law Foundation has organized the projects. Last year the twelfth installment of the series had speakers specializing in bankruptcy law, landlord-tenant law, and the Virginia Rent Relief Program. The entire day’s presentations were also made available digitally.
Courthouse Welcome for New Attorneys
The Roanoke Bar Association partnered with the 23rd Circuit judiciary to hold a New Attorney Orientation on October 7, 2021, for any attorneys who had practiced for four years or less, or who had moved their practice to Roanoke within the last four years.
The event took place at the Oliver W. Hill Justice Center and featured the sheriff discussing security precautions when entering the Roanoke City Courthouse and issues to be aware of when visiting the Roanoke City Jail. The chief judge of each local court, along with a clerk, discussed courtroom decorum and expectations and advice for filing pleadings in each Court.
Forty-four new attorneys attended the event, which provided the opportunity to mingle with other new attorneys and to meet the judges and RBA board members in an informal setting.
The Prince William County Bar Association, Inc. (2 awards)
To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Prince William County Bar Association, the bar hosted the Sinclair Social, an event designed to “encourage the professionalism and collegiality of its members.” More than 100 guests attended the inaugural event, which was named in memory of The Honorable Arthur W. Sinclair, a founding member of the PWCBA and the namesake for the annual Professionalism Award, given by the association since 1992.
The event allowed local bar members with their bench to socialize and was an excellent opportunity to increase the collegiality and respect between the members and the bench. This event is similar to the PWCBA annual Bench-Bar Dinner dance but has a more casual, relaxed environment.
Legal Soundbite Video Series
The Prince William County Bar Association developed a series of short videos as a public service project to answer simple legal questions and heighten awareness of the PWCBA’s programs that facilitate public access to a lawyer, such as the Find a Lawyer feature accessible through the PWCBA’s website and the PWCBA Lawyer Referral Service.
Each video took about an hour to record, and about three to four hours to edit. All videos were approved by the executive board of the PWCBA prior to release. The bar is tracking the number of times a video is viewed, confirming that the public is finding the information useful.
The Prince William County Bar Association, Inc., in association with:
Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association
Hispanic Bar Association of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Virginia Women Attorneys Association, Prince William Chapter
Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Virginia
JUSTice Like Me
This program focused on serving underserved and minority students within Prince William County with the goal of exposing high school students to careers within the court system: lawyers, judges, courtroom clerks, sheriff deputies, and courtroom interpreters.
On March 12, 2022, 13 Prince William County Public High schools sent a total of approximately 130 students to the Prince William County Courthouse for this JUSTice LIKE ME event. Nineteen judges, 30+ attorneys, 20 sheriff’s officers, 6 court clerks, and 3 court interpreters led the students through a mock jury trial, presentations, and a question-and-answer segment.
The organizing bar associations collected feedback from the attendees to make improvements for annual repetitions. The organizers hope to offer the opportunity to all 15 high schools in the county every year through a continued partnership between the local and specialty bars located in Prince William County.
Russell County Bar Association, in association with:
Virginia Mountain/Valley Lawyers Alliance
28th Circuit Criminal Defense Bar
Tazewell County Bar Association
Washington County Bar Association
Buchanan County Bar Association
City of Bristol Bar Association
Law Day Program
In Southwest Virginia, the organizing bar associations of that area held congruent Law Day events in four locations: Lebanon, Abingdon, Marion, and Tazewell. The Law Day events included booth set ups from The Dept. of Veteran Services, the National Guard, People, Inc., and Anthem HealthKeepers. Additionally, each location had a blood drive, pro bono legal clinics, and attorneys in attendance to answer legal questions while supplying legal literature such as the Virginia State Bar-produced So You’re 18 and Senior Virginians Handbook.
The Russell County Bar Association debuted the Law Day video(s), and the 2022 video included footage from the event itself. There were opportunities for public officials to participate in the events and speak, as well as the Virginia State Bar President.
Additionally, there was an opportunity for live continuing legal education credit from attending “Presidential Powers and National Security: When The President Takes Extreme Measures During Wartime.” Presented by, Prof. John Woodward, the CLE focused on the seminal case of Korematsu v. United States.
The CLSBA provides information on these projects to other groups that want to consider similar programs. For information, contact Paulette J. Davidson at [email protected] or (804) 775-0521.