Historical Timeline of the Prince William County Bar Association
Many of the activities and objectives of the Prince William County Bar Association, Inc. find their roots in the goals outlined by its charter members over 70 years ago. Regular meetings of the membership have been called, as necessary, since the organization's inception, July 25, 1941. These meetings have almost always taken place over a meal, (usually at George's Diner in the early days.) From the mid 1960's on, meetings have been held on a regular basis, with the current luncheon and program format beginning in the early 1980s.
The collection of membership dues was instituted early in the history of the PWCBA. The earliest recollections indicate the amount was $15.00 per year.
The establishment of an Executive Board and Standing Committees to conduct the work of the Bar was initiated in the original constitution. The size and composition of the Board and number of committees has changed over the years to meet the changing needs of the Association.
The PWCBA has taken an active role in the Judicial Selection process with the earliest references being made to the appointment of Arthur W. Sinclair to the Circuit Court. At that time, the Circuit included Arlington, Fairfax and Prince William Counties.
The annual Dinner Dance has been in place since the early 1960's, though the format has changed. It used to be called the President's Annual Social and took place at the current president's home. Other social events over the years have included family picnics, receptions, and attendance at sporting events.
Continuing Legal Education has been a stated focus of the Bar since 1962. Mandatory Continuing Legal Education requirements were set forth by the Virginia State Bar in 1987. In 1992, the PWC Bar became an accredited sponsor of CLEs.
Public relations has also been a stated focus for the Bar since 1962 with projects and programs designed to transmit a positive public image of the legal community and to educate the public on law-related issues. In prior years, the Bar has sponsored mock trials for area students, supported the American Heart Association's Cardiac Arrest, and conducted Law Day activities. In recent years, the Bar has sponsored Candidates Forums, organized a 5K Run during the centennial celebration of the creation of the family courts, distributed "So You're 18" booklets to high school seniors, sponsored the "Beat the Odds" banquet to recognize youth who triumph in the face of adversity, distributed the "Senior Citizen's Handbook" to area senior citizens, volunteered to build homes for Habitat for Humanity, and sponsored an essay contest which focused on character building attributes for middle school students.
The regular publication of a newsletter, to communicate with the membership, began in 1981. At that time, the membership of the local Bar was approaching 100 making communication through personal letters, memos, and phone calls a cumbersome task. The name Hear Ye! Hear Ye! was adopted in 1996.
The PWCBA became a Virginia Corporation in 1982.
The PWCBA began recognizing local attorneys for outstanding work as court-appointed attorneys in 1989. The first recipient of the Court-Appointed Attorney of the Year Award, was Paul F. Gluchowski. In 1995, the award was expanded to recognize the outstanding dedication, professionalism, and competence of court appointed counsel in the Circuit, General District, and Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts in our jurisdiction. In 2011, the award was re-named the Attorney of the Year Award in order to recognize any attorney, not just court-appointed, whose practice in the courts of the 31st Judicial Circuit is exemplary. In 1994, the Bar presented the first Guardian ad litem of the Year Award to Michele Jung.
In 1991, the Bar Association elected its first female President, Patricia F. Hammond. The membership was approaching 200 members.
In 1992, The Prince William County Bar Association established the Arthur W. Sinclair Professionalism Award to recognize a member who demonstrates the highest standards of honor, integrity, competency, and courtesy within the legal profession. This award bears the name of the Honorable Arthur W. Sinclair in fitting tribute to the integrity and professionalism that he inspires. The first Sinclair Professionalism Award was presented by then Chief Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, Harry Carrico, to Turner T. Smith.
The Bar developed a Judicial Evaluation Program in 1993 to provide feedback to the local judiciary regarding their performance, and to the local delegation in the year in which a Judge is up for reappointment. The program was converted to electronic format in 2013 which accomplished three goals. 1. Increased member participation. 2. Lowered tabulation and distribution costs. 3. Allowed for judges to be evaluated annually rather that bi-annually.
In 1994, the Bar Association elected its first African-American President, Rossie D. Alston, Jr.
By 1999 the PWCBA recognized the need for and hired an Executive Director. Alissa Hudson became the first Executive Director and represented the first paid staff position supported by the PWCBA. With the establishment of a staff position, came the creation of an infrastructure to support the membership, an increase in the development and implementation of community service projects, and the promise of institutional memory through the years.
On February 12, 2001, the PWCBA became a 501 (c) 6 Tax-Exempt Organization.
The Prince William County Bar Foundation, Inc. was established in 2001 by members of the PWCBA for the exclusive purpose of assisting, strengthening and extending the work, services and objectives of the Bar Association. The funding and support offered through the Foundation enables the PWCBA to undertake projects otherwise beyond its reach. The first such program was the development of a public education brochure for clients receiving court-appointed counsel. The PWCBA is eternally grateful for the hard work and dedication of the members of the Foundation and for the tremendous support they lend to the quantity and quality of the projects that the Bar Association undertakes.
The PWCBA website was launched in 2002, providing historical and current information about the Bar and its programs for the benefit of the public, and more specific information about the Bar for its membership. Unique to the PWCBA website are the searchable indexes which facilitate public access to an attorney. A person looking for an attorney can utilize the Lawyer Locator feature to search through the entire membership of the PWCBA by practice area of law, obtain contact information for the attorney selected, and if available, make contact through a direct link to the attorney’s website. Members of the PWCBA also find the searchable indexes helpful for lawyer-to-lawyer referrals and for obtaining current contact information for other members or law firms. The entire website was updated to its current format in 2013.
In 2003, the PWCBA established the Pro bono Attorney-of-the-Year Award to recognize an attorney for his or her dedication to the development and delivery of pro bono legal services to those in need. The attorney honored with this award may have helped to organize a program through which pro bono legal services were delivered to the public or may have provided direct pro bono legal representation on behalf of the poor. The first recipient of this award was E. Allen Newcomb.
In 2004, the PWCBA launched the listserv as a voluntary means for members to communicate with each other to share practice pointers, to communicate about court procedures, particularly for venues outside the 31st Judicial Circuit, to seek and make referrals to colleagues and generally network. The service became comprehensive in 2007, when every member was encouraged to participate. The Bar discontinued use of the global fax, in use at that time, in favor of the listserv as a means of disseminating information to the entire membership of the Bar in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
In 2005, the PWCBA launched a Lawyer Referral Service, (LRS) to facilitate public access to an attorney. Through the LRS, clients can receive a referral to an attorney experienced in the area of law in which assistance is needed and meet with the attorney for up to 30 minutes for a $35.00 initial consultation fee. Integral to the success of the Lawyer Referral Service was the establishment of a public access office for the PWCBA. An office was provided in the Prince William County Judicial Center for use by the PWCBA in the spring of 2005. Operations were expanded to a second office in 2013.
On February 22, 2008, history was made as the Prince William County Bar Association celebrated the investiture of The Honorable LeRoy F. Millette, Jr. to the Court of Appeals of Virginia. Judge Millette was the first judge from the Thirty-First Judicial Circuit to be appointed to a higher court in Virginia. Millette served the Court of Appeals until his elevation to the Supreme Court of Virginia in August 2008.
In 2008, the PWCBA launched the Modest Means Panel as a way to provide reduced fee legal representation to clients with limited financial resources. Clients are screened for eligibility through Legal Services of Northern Virginia, (LSNV). Through this program, clients whose income is slightly above eligibility guidelines for receiving free legal services through LSNV can receive representation on a variety of civil matters from a Modest Means Panel (MMP) Attorney. The MMP Attorney will meet with the client for up to 30 minutes for a $35.00 initial consultation fee and if the client hires the MMP Attorney to assist him, the attorney will charge the client at a reduced rate.
On March 27, 2009, The Prince William County Bar Association celebrated the investiture of The Honorable Rossie D. Alston, Jr. to the Court of Appeals of Virginia.
On February 25, 2011, the PWCBA mourned the loss of its last living founding member, Judge Arthur Williams Sinclair. Efforts to assemble a tribute to him brought into view a picture of a man whose impact on the local legal community, and community at large, were quietly profound.