Founded in 1957, the VBBA seeks to promote justice and fair play in the legal system and provides public service and professional development opportunities for its 450 members.
The association’s annually elected leadership includes: Edwin A. Booth of Parks Zeigler, PLLC, president; Ryan G. Ferguson of Bischoff Martingayle, P.C., president-elect; Allison W. Anderson of Parks Zeigler, PLLC, secretary; and C. Andrew Rice of the Office of Commonwealth’s Attorney, treasurer.
President Booth nominated the VBBA by emphasizing the high-quality CLE opportunities offered by the bar. These include a Legislative Update that brings together General Assembly members from both major political parties, an annual Las Vegas trip with free CLE content for members, a Bench-Bar Conference, and an Introduction to the Courts CLE that helps new lawyers transition into practice in Virginia Beach. Additionally, the association has been able to maintain consistent and clear communication to its members during the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to help maintain a state-of-the-art law library and dedicated workspaces for members at the courthouse.
In the community, the VBBA has several outreach programs targeting youth. Since 1999, the association has organized a mentorship program between members of the bar and area elementary school students with the goal of increasing literacy. The VBBA’s newest community outreach initiative, the “2nd Grade Students on the Swim Program,” seeks to teach students attending Seatack and Birdneck Elementary Schools how to swim — an important skill given the region’s connection to the ocean and waterways. For high school students, the VBBA developed a juvenile legal awareness program for the classroom and provides coaches, judges, and funds for mock trial teams at five local high schools.
Regarding charitable works, the VBBA has a Public Service Project Committee that has joined forces with local shelters and food banks to provide better services to homeless people in Virginia Beach. In the last year, the VBBA raised over $1,500 and 73 pounds of food donations which equates to 4,493 meals for the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia. Also, during the holiday season, the VBBA uses its Annual Holiday Party to collect toys and monetary donations from attendees for the US Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots Program.
The VBBA has a strong commitment to pro bono work, with the association’s Concerned Lawyers Advocating Spousal Safety (CLASS) program providing for more than 20 years much-needed counsel free-of-charge to abused spouses and partners seeking safe harbor. As a result of this program, hundreds of vulnerable litigants have access to free legal representation each year.
CLASS has twice received awards from the VSB: the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Pro Bono Award in 2001 and the Award of Merit (Sustained Program Award) in 2021.