The ABA Young Lawyers Division again recognized the projects of the VBA Young Lawyers Division in its Awards of Achievement as among the best in the nation in 2012-2013. Opening Statement earned a second place in the Newsletter category and the Backpack to Briefcase program took second place in the Service to the Bar category. The Capitol Region Town Hall Committee received special recognition in the Service to the Public category. Overall, the VBA YLD projects ranked second in a Comprehensive overview among state bars of our size.
In 2011-2012, the VBA YLD earned a second place in the Comprehensive category in consideration of eight projects, and a certificate of performance in the Service to the Public category for statewide bars of our size. The Service to the Public award recognized the Ask A Lawyer program.
In the 2010-2011 contest, the VBA YLD earned three Awards of Achievement from the American Bar Association YLD: first in Comprehensive, and seconds in the Service to the Bar and in the Minority categories.
VBA Young Lawyers Division
The Young Lawyers Division of The Virginia Bar Association was organized as a separate entity of The Virginia Bar Association in 1957 at the Association's 67th Annual Meeting at The Greenbrier. The organization, originally called The Junior Bar Section, later became known as the Young Lawyers Section and in 1993, in recognition of its unique place in the VBA structure, it became the Young Lawyers Division. At the first meeting a decision was made to affiliate with the Junior Bar Conference, now known as the Young Lawyers Division, of the American Bar Association. A close relationship with the ABA's Young Lawyers Division continues to this day.
The Division's initial project was to sponsor a special ceremony before the Virginia Supreme Court at which 40 new members of the bar were introduced by the deans of the four law schools in the Commonwealth at the time. The ceremony was followed by a luncheon that was attended by the Governor and the Justices of the Supreme Court of Virginia.
In the formative years of the Division, a number of projects were initiated that remain a part of present activities. For example, in 1959 the Division became the sponsor of the regional National Moot Court Competition. In 1960-61, the Division began the annual "Bridge-the-Gap" seminars. In 1962, a practical guide for new lawyers entitled Virginia Lawyer's Basic Practice Handbook, the precursor to The Virginia Lawyer (1966), was first published. The first Law Day ceremony was held in 1964.
The Division's bylaws provide that the purposes of the Division "shall be to further the objectives of the Association, to stimulate and promote the interests of young lawyers and the activities of the Association, to encourage public service by young lawyers, to assist in the establishment, improvement and coordination of affiliated local young lawyers organizations, and to encourage and promote fellowship among young lawyers." True to our charge, the Division's activities historically and presently have involved service to the public and the bar.
As with any organization, emphasis on certain types of activities has changed periodically. Thus, committees commonly are disbanded and new committees formed as projects are completed and new projects are initiated. The common thread between the committees and participating young lawyers of yesterday, and those presently engaged in the Division's activities, is the dedication to making a contribution to the public and the bar, and enjoying collegiality in the process.
The Division as a whole currently meets once each year at the Association's Annual Meeting. The Division's Executive Council, which is composed of all of the Committee Chairs and the Executive Committee, meets four times each year: at the Association's Annual and Summer Meetings, and during the spring and fall. The Division's Executive Committee meets at least twice independently of the Executive Council in order to more effectively manage Division activities. The Division Chair and Chair-Elect also serve on the Executive Committee of the VBA and on its Administrative Committee.
The Division's early roots have grown into more than 40 active committees. The various special and ongoing projects and activities are as varied as the needs of the public and the bar. A complete list of current VBA/YLD committees, with contact information and a description for each committee, is available on this website.
Concomitant to our proud heritage is the obligation to expand the quantity and quality of our service to the public and the bar. The young lawyers of today and those of tomorrow will be the beneficiaries of a rich tradition of helping others by joining in our activities.
Portions of this article are reprinted from, and graciously attributed to, the following articles published in The Virginia Bar Association Journal, a publication of The Virginia Bar Association: "The Young Lawyers Section of The Virginia Bar Association—A Tradition of Service to the Bar and Public," by J. Robert McAllister, III; and "The Young Lawyers Section: A Tradition of Excellence," by Peggy O'Neal Haines.