VADA Young Lawyers told: Be aware of your reputation
Judge Harold W. Burgess and Judge Gary A. Hicks talked to some of the newest members of the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys in Richmond on Dec. 3 at a session designed to introduce them to the basics of civil defense practice.
The judges’ comments were a mixture of tips, pet peeves to avoid and legal common sense.
Visit the Virginia Lawyers Weekly blog for more details concerning the advice given to VADA's Young Lawyers.
VADA Announces Amicus Guidelines
The VADA is prepared to support the filing of amicus briefs upon consideration of the following factors:
- Whether the issue presented is one of substantial precedential value;
- Whether the issue presented is one of substantial concern to the VADA membership;
- Whether there are any procedural or evidentiary issues in the case which make the likelihood of success remote;
- Whether the VADA can undertake the project within the confines of its budgetary and time constraints;
- Whether the intervention of the VADA will have a substantial impact on the potential outcome of the case.
An attorney wishing to submit a request to VADA may do so in writing or by email to:
Jill Wells Nunnally, Executive Director - VADA
7275 Glen Forest Drive, Suite 207
Richmond, VA 23226
or by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
VADA's Legislative and Lobbying Policy
During their meeting on October 29, 2008, the VADA Board of Directors unanimously approved a formal Legislative Philosophy and Lobbying Policy. It is as follows:
VADA both historically and presently takes positions involving legislation that may impact Virginia defense attorneys in the professional and ethical representation of clients in civil litigation. It is the philosophy of the VADA to provide active support for legislation, primarily but not exclusively procedural in nature, that promotes a “level playing field” for its members in the defense of their clients. Similarly, the VADA actively opposes legislation that: (1) appears to provide unfair advantages to the plaintiffs’ bar; (2) would promote unprofessional or unethical conduct, or (3) is otherwise inconsistent with concepts of fundamental fairness.
The VADA does not take positions in support of or opposition to legislation simply because a proposal would provide a substantive advantage or disadvantage to individuals or entities frequently represented by its members (e.g. insurance companies or health care providers). Most of those entities have legislative and lobbying resources that far exceed those of the VADA, and are fully capable of advocating for their interests before the General Assembly. The VADA therefore conducts a careful and critical review of requests to assist other groups who have their own legislative agendas, and VADA will not take a position simply because the issue carries the aura of tort reform.
The VADA’s legislative philosophy is implemented by the Legislative Committee and its lobbyist(s). Each year prior to the General Assembly session, the Committee requests input from the VADA membership regarding issues that it would like to see addressed. The committee also meets with the Lobbyist to identify issues likely to come before the General Assembly that may be of interest to VADA members. Once the General Assembly convenes, the Legislative Committee and the Lobbyist meet on a regular basis to review all bills related to civil procedure, as well as selected other bills related to the practice of VADA members, and to determine whether they comport with the philosophy outline above. At the conclusion of this review, the Committee assigns the bills to one of five categories:
1. Strong Support—the Lobbyist actively supports the bill, and takes all available opportunities to advocate the VADA’s position.
2. Soft Support—the Lobbyist will indicate that the VADA supports the bill, but only if the opportunity to do so arises in the course of his other duties.
3. No Position—the bill is unrelated to the VADA’s legislative philosophy.
4. Soft Opposition—the Lobbyist will indicate that the VADA opposes the bill, but only if the opportunity to do so arises in the course of his other duties.
5. Strong Opposition—the Lobbyist actively opposes the bill, and takes all available opportunities to advocate the VADA’s position.
The Legislative Committee and/or Lobbyist reports its positions and status of bills of interest to the VADA membership periodically during the General Assembly session, and issues a comprehensive report once the session is concluded and the Governor has acted on bills that are passed.
VADA's JUST PAC
While legislators make decisions based on what they consider to be the best public policy, they are understandably influenced by the views of their constituents and supporters. For us to maximize our effectiveness in influencing the General Assembly decision-makers, we need to support legislators who share our positions. One important way is to assist their re-elections to ensure we have receptive and right-thinking people making these important decisions.
Here is a sobering point of comparison. During the same time period JUST PAC was contributing less than $10,000 to members of the General Assembly, the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association contributed more than $354,700. This is a very sizeable imbalance. We do not need to and do not seek to match the contributions of the plaintiff's bar. Our lobbyists, Bem Lacy and Bill Gray, will outwork them and will have better public policy arguments. We do need, however, to eliminate such an imbalance that is not helpful to our efforts.
Donations are encouraged throughout the year and should be sent to the VADA office. (Checks should be made payable to "JUST PAC.")
Exhibitor & Sponsorship Opportunities
The seminar schedule can be reviewed by clicking here.
If you are interested in being a sponsor of a VADA meeting, contact Molly McClellan, Director of Meetings at 804/649-1002 or by email