17 April 2022

The Actual Powers of the Bar: Part Two (B)


1. Powers the Bar Claims   2. Actual Powers: The Primary Enabling Statute    

3. Actual Powers: Article One  4. Actual Powers: Article Two (A)             

We left off at § 54.1-3913.1. So let's move on to the statues which follow.

§ 54.1-3914 creates by reference an Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar. The ED is tasked with notifying, by certified or registered mail, any lawyer who hasn't paid dues for two years that she hasn't paid. By implication the ED will keep records of non-payment and addresses of attorneys. If payment is not made within six months the ED is required to remove the attorney from the list of Virginia attorneys and tells the Supreme Court. If the attorney pays her dues and a $100 fine the ED is required to put her back on the list of Virginia attorneys and tell the Supreme Court. By implication the ED will keep a list of all licensed attorneys in Virginia.

[Off Point Note: Interestingly, there doesn't seem to be a time limit for reinstatement or an ability for the ED to refuse it. So, if you let your license lapse 15 years back . . . ]


§ 54.1-3915 mandates that the Courts remain in control of attorney discipline. Possibly creates by inference non-judicial discipline when it states that an attorney who demands trial by court will get it. 


§ 54.1-3915.1 [repealed] This was the statute that stated an attorneys constitutional right to choose non-association was greater than the Bar's right to force her to give it money to be spent on legal aid. 

[While I sympathize with the sentiment behind the former statute, the constitutional analysis that says a mandated association (the Bar) which attorneys are already forced to pay taxes in support of can't snatch further funds for one of its mandated duties seems a stretch - even if the analysis is correct, it's something courts are not going to follow through on.]


§ 54.1-3916(A) creates by reference the Legal Service Corporation of Virginia and gives it one power: to receive money from the interest that attorney trust accounts accrue.

[Effectively, this is a tax on your client for hiring an attorney.]

This statute also specifically gives the Bar the power to make rules and regulations for legal aid societies with the specific mission of providing representation to those who cannot afford it.

§ 54.1-3916(B) specifically gives the Bar the power to enforce its rules for legal aid or to farm out enforcement to the Attorney General.

§ 54.1-3916(C) by inference gives the Bar the power to enjoin any organization giving out free legal aid without following the rules it promulgated pursuant to (A). By weaker, possible inference, combined with (B), it gives the Bar the power to prosecute a class 1 misdemeanor if any organization is giving out free legal aid with following the rules it promulgated pursuant to (A).


§ 54.1-3917  allows the Bar to administer and participate in a "master retirement program" for all attorneys their families, and employees. Creates by reference the State Bar Fund which is to pay for explaining the Master retirement program to members of the Bar.

[Huh? Never heard of this and couldn't find any reference to it anywhere. As far as I can tell, the Bar may be authorized to do this, but it isn't.]

§ 54.1-3917.1 allows the Bar to either (a) endorse certain insurance coverage or (b) to hold insurance policies for Bar members, their families, and employees.

[I seem to remember the Bar recommending certain companies for malpractice, but nothing further.]

§ 54.1-3918 requires the Bar to give over a list of all members to all Virginia legal organizations which do CLE's upon request.

And, that finishes off Article Two. Articles Three, Four, and Five don't look like they'll have much about the Bar. Then comes Article Six which is the disciplinary article. That may clear up a lot of what's missing under this article. We'll see once we get there.

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