Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 54.1. Professions and Occupations
8/19/2018

Subtitle IV. Professions Regulated By the Supreme Court.

Chapter 39. Attorneys.

Article 1. General Provisions.

§ 54.1-3900. Practice of law; student internship program; definition.

Persons who hold a license or certificate to practice law under the laws of this Commonwealth and have paid the license tax prescribed by law may practice law in the Commonwealth.

Any person authorized and practicing as counsel or attorney in any state or territory of the United States, or in the District of Columbia, may for the purpose of attending to any case he may occasionally have in association with a practicing attorney of this Commonwealth practice in the courts of this Commonwealth, in which case no license fee shall be chargeable against such nonresident attorney.

Nothing herein shall prohibit the limited practice of law by military legal assistance attorneys who are employed by a military program providing legal services to low-income military clients and their dependents pursuant to rules promulgated by the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Nothing herein shall prohibit a limited practice of law under the supervision of a practicing attorney by (i) third-year law students or (ii) persons who are in the final year of a program of study as authorized in § 54.1-3926, pursuant to rules promulgated by the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Nothing herein shall prohibit an employee of a state agency in the course of his employment from representing the interests of his agency in administrative hearings before any state agency, such representation to be limited to the examination of witnesses at administrative hearings relating to personnel matters and the adoption of agency standards, policies, rules and regulations.

Nothing herein shall prohibit designated nonattorney employees of the Department of Social Services from completing, signing and filing petitions and motions relating to the establishment, modification, or enforcement of support on forms approved by the Supreme Court of Virginia in Department cases in the juvenile and domestic relations district courts.

Nothing herein shall prohibit designated nonattorney employees of a local department of social services from appearing before an intake officer to initiate a case in accordance with subsection A of § 16.1-260 on behalf of the local department of social services.

Nothing herein shall prohibit designated nonattorney employees of a local department of social services from completing, signing, and filing with the clerk of the juvenile and domestic relations district court, on forms approved by the Supreme Court of Virginia, petitions for foster care review, petitions for permanency planning hearings, petitions to establish paternity, motions to establish or modify support, motions to amend or review an order, or motions for a rule to show cause.

As used in this chapter "attorney" means attorney-at-law.

Code 1950, § 54-42; 1972, c. 391; 1974, c. 456; 1976, c. 277; 1988, c. 765; 1991, c. 650; 1994, c. 30; 1998, c. 796; 2008, cc. 136, 845; 2016, c. 704.

§ 54.1-3900.01. Protection of client interests; appointment of receiver for practice of a disabled, impaired, absent, deceased, suspended or disbarred attorney.

A. Upon a showing that an attorney is unable to properly discharge responsibilities to clients by reason of the attorney's disability, impairment, absence or death or that a suspended or disbarred attorney has not complied with Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13 M of the Rules of the Virginia Supreme Court, and that no responsible party capable of properly discharging the attorney's responsibilities to clients is known to exist, the circuit court of any city or county wherein the attorney resides, or in the case of a deceased attorney resided, or maintained an office, upon the ex parte petition of Bar Counsel may issue an order appointing one or more attorneys to serve as receiver with the powers and duties specified in this section. The court, in its discretion, may require a receiver appointed pursuant to this section to post bond, with or without surety. The court may issue such order if the petition, supported by affidavit of the petitioner and such other evidence as the court may require, shows reasonable cause to believe that by reason of the subject attorney's disability, impairment, absence, or death, the subject attorney is unable to properly discharge his responsibilities to clients; or that the subject attorney's law license has been suspended or revoked and the subject attorney has not complied with Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13 M of the Rules of Supreme Court; and that no responsible party capable of properly discharging the subject attorney's responsibilities to clients is known to exist. The Virginia State Bar shall use its best efforts to provide a copy of the petition, affidavits, and notice of the time and place of any hearing to the subject attorney and any known duly appointed personal representative of the subject attorney or the subject attorney's estate.

B. Any receiver so appointed shall be bound by the attorney-client privilege and confidentiality under the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct with respect to client matters and shall not disclose any privileged or confidential client information without client consent, or as required by court order, or to respond to a Virginia State Bar disciplinary investigation or an investigation by the Virginia State Bar Clients' Protection Fund involving the subject attorney.

C. Any receiver so appointed shall, unless otherwise ordered by the court, (i) prepare and file with the Virginia State Bar an inventory of all case files under the subject attorney's control; (ii) notify in writing all of the subject attorney's clients of the appointment and take whatever action the receiver deems appropriate to protect the interests of the clients until such time as the clients have had an opportunity to obtain successor counsel, and in the case of a deceased attorney, notify in writing the personal representative, if any, of the deceased attorney's estate and the commissioner of accounts of the circuit court in which the deceased attorney's estate is being administered that the receiver may have a claim against the deceased attorney's estate for fees and costs of the receivership; (iii) identify and take control of all bank accounts, including without limitation trust and operating accounts, over which the subject attorney had signatory authority in connection with his law practice; (iv) prepare and submit an accounting of receipts and disbursements and account balances of all funds under the receiver's control for submission to the court within four months of the appointment and annually thereafter until the receivership is terminated by the court; (v) attempt to collect any accounts receivable related to the subject attorney's law practice; (vi) identify and attempt to recover any assets wrongfully diverted from the subject attorney's law practice, or assets acquired with funds wrongfully diverted from the subject attorney's law practice; (vii) terminate the subject attorney's law practice; (viii) reduce to cash all of the assets of the subject attorney's law practice, and in the case of a deceased attorney notify in writing the personal representative, if any, of the deceased attorney's estate, and the commissioner of accounts of the circuit court in which the deceased attorney's estate is being administered of any proposed liquidations of assets; (ix) determine the nature and amount of all claims of creditors, including clients, of the subject attorney's law practice; and (x) prepare and file with the court a report of such assets and claims proposing a distribution to such creditors and, in the case of a deceased attorney, notify in writing the personal representative, if any, of the deceased attorney's estate and the commissioner of accounts of the circuit court in which the deceased attorney's estate is being administered of the proposed distribution of the receivership funds. Upon the court's approval of the receiver's report, at a hearing after such notice as the court may require to creditors, the personal representative of the subject attorney's estate and the commissioner of accounts of the circuit court in which the deceased attorney's estate is being administered, the receiver shall distribute the funds in the receiver's control, including funds produced by the liquidation of the subject attorney's law practice, first to clients whose funds were or ought to have been held in trust by the subject attorney, then to the receiver for fees, costs and expenses awarded pursuant to subsection E below, and thereafter to the general creditors of the subject attorney's law practice, including clients whose funds were not required to have been held in trust by the subject attorney, and then to the subject attorney or the subject attorney's personal representative.

D. The court may determine whether any assets under the receiver's control should be returned to the subject attorney or the subject attorney's personal representative during the receivership.

E. Any receiver so appointed shall be entitled, upon proper application to the court in which the appointment was made, to recover an award of reasonable fees, costs and expenses. If there are not sufficient nontrust funds to pay the award, then the shortfall shall be paid by the Virginia State Bar, to the extent that the Virginia State Bar has funds available. The Virginia State Bar shall have a claim against the subject attorney or the attorney's estate for the amount paid.

F. This statute is declared to be remedial. Its purpose is to protect the interests of clients adversely affected by attorneys who have either engaged in misconduct or because of disability, impairment, absence, or death are unable to provide legal services for their clients. It is to be liberally administered in order to protect those interests and thereby the public's interest in the quality of legal services provided by Virginia attorneys.

1988, c. 425, § 54-42.01; 1997, c. 239; 2005, cc. 184, 212.

§ 54.1-3901. Practice of patent law.

A. For the purposes of this section "an attorney recognized to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office in patent cases" is defined as anyone who is authorized to practice law in any state or territory of the United States, or the District of Columbia, and who is also entitled under the rules of that Office to represent another in patent cases. The "practice of patent law" is defined as the performance of all necessary professional services with respect to patent matters concerning which being recognized to practice before that Office for the performance of such services is required and includes legal services related to or connected with the practice of patent law.

B. Any attorney who is admitted as an active member of the Virginia State Bar, limited to patent, trademark, copyright and unfair competition cases only, as of July 1, 2000, may continue such active membership subject to compliance with minimum requirements of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia.

C. This section shall not authorize a person recognized to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office in patent cases to appear in any court or tribunal other than the tribunals of that Office, unless the person is an active member of the Virginia State Bar, generally or an active member of the Virginia State Bar limited to patent, trademark, copyright and unfair competition cases only as of July 1, 2000. This section shall not be construed to limit the admission to practice law as an active member of the Virginia State Bar generally of any person otherwise qualified for general admission.

D. No attorney who is not an active member of the Virginia State Bar, whether or not authorized to practice before that Office in patent cases, shall be deemed to be admitted to practice patent law within the meaning of subdivision B 1 of § 54.1-3902 or duly licensed or otherwise legally authorized to practice law within the meaning of § 13.1-544.

1962, c. 389, § 54-42.1; 1968, c. 10; 1974, c. 597; 1981, c. 103; 1982, c. 633; 1988, c. 765; 2000, c. 355.

§ 54.1-3902. Professional corporations; professional limited liability companies; and registered limited liability partnerships.

A. No professional corporation organized or qualifying under the provisions of Chapter 7 (§ 13.1-542 et seq.) of Title 13.1, professional limited liability company organized or qualifying under the provisions of Chapter 13 (§ 13.1-1100 et seq.) of Title 13.1, or registered limited liability partnership registered under the provisions of Article 9.1 (§ 50-73.132 et seq.) of Chapter 2.2 of Title 50 shall render the professional services of attorneys in this Commonwealth unless the professional corporation, professional limited liability company, or registered limited liability partnership is registered under this section.

B. A professional corporation organized or qualifying under the provisions of Chapter 7 of Title 13.1, a professional limited liability company organized or qualifying under the provisions of Chapter 13 of Title 13.1, or a registered limited liability partnership registered under the provisions of Article 9.1 (§ 50-73.132 et seq.) of Chapter 2.2 of Title 50 shall be issued a professional corporation, a professional limited liability company, or a registered limited liability partnership registration certificate by the Virginia State Bar upon application and payment of a registration fee of $100 provided that:

1. Each member, manager, partner, employee or agent of the professional corporation, the professional limited liability company, or the registered limited liability partnership who will practice law in Virginia is an active member of the Virginia State Bar, or otherwise legally authorized to practice law in Virginia, except that nothing herein shall prohibit a nonlicensed individual from serving as secretary, treasurer, office manager or business manager of any such corporation, limited liability company, or registered limited liability partnership; and

2. The name of the professional corporation, the professional limited liability company, or the registered limited liability partnership and the conduct of its practice conform with the ethical standards which the shareholders, members, managers, partners, employees and agents are required to observe in the practice of law or patent law as defined in § 54.1-3901 in this Commonwealth and that, in the case of a corporation, the corporate name complies with subsection A of § 13.1-630; in the case of a limited liability company, the limited liability company name complies with subsection A of § 13.1-1012; and, in the case of a registered limited liability partnership, the registered limited liability partnership name complies with § 50-73.133.

C. Professional corporation, professional limited liability company, and registered limited liability partnership registration certificates shall be renewed biennially for a fee of $50.

1962, c. 389, § 54-42.1; 1968, c. 10; 1973, c. 484, § 54-42.2; 1974, c. 597; 1981, cc. 103, 516; 1982, c. 633; 1988, c. 765; 1992, c. 574; 1995, c. 116; 2000, c. 355; 2006, cc. 198, 230.

§ 54.1-3903. Oath; qualification; proof of licensure or authorization.

Before an attorney may practice in any court in the Commonwealth, he shall take the oath of fidelity to the Commonwealth, stating that he will honestly demean himself in the practice of law and execute his office of attorney-at-law to the best of his ability. An attorney who has qualified before the Supreme Court of Virginia shall be qualified to practice in all courts of the Commonwealth. An attorney who has qualified before a court other than the Supreme Court shall be qualified to practice only in the court which administered his oath.

Each court in which an attorney intends to practice may require the attorney to produce satisfactory evidence of his licensure or authorization.

Code 1950, § 54-43; 1972, c. 131; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3904. Penalty for practicing without authority.

Any person who practices law without being authorized or licensed shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A collection agency may refer debts to an attorney for collection with the creditor's approval of the referral and the fee arrangement and shall not be deemed to be engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. An attorney is permitted by the creditor's authorization to enter into such representation agreements.

Code 1950, § 54-44; 1988, c. 765; 1994, c. 441.

§ 54.1-3905. Furnishing advice and services for compensation in connection with certain debt-pooling plans deemed practicing law.

The furnishing of advice or services for compensation to a debtor in connection with a debt-pooling plan pursuant to which the debtor deposits funds for the purpose of distributing them among his creditors, except as authorized for persons licensed pursuant to § 6.2-2005, shall be deemed to be practicing law. Any person or agency not so authorized or who is not a member of the Virginia State Bar who furnishes or offers to furnish such advice or services for compensation shall be in violation of this section. However, it shall not constitute the practice of law merely to make or undertake to make payments to creditors on behalf of debtors, provided any person or agency that does so does not also negotiate with creditors, undertake to negotiate with creditors, or hold itself out as undertaking to negotiate with creditors on behalf of one or more debtors. Any person who violates this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

1956, c. 584, § 54-44.1; 1975, c. 645; 1988, c. 765; 1994, c. 567; 2004, c. 790.

§ 54.1-3906. Liability to client.

Every attorney shall be liable to his client for any damage sustained by the client through the neglect of his duty as such attorney.

Code 1950, § 54-46; 1988, c. 765; 2011, c. 703.

§ 54.1-3907. Reasonable care of attorney in selection of index.

Any attorney who in the examination of records in the office of the clerk of any court in this Commonwealth relies upon the correctness of any index found in such office, whether it is the original index prepared by the clerk or by persons other than the clerk, shall be deemed to have used reasonable care in the selection of the index.

1960, c. 441, § 54-44.2; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3908. Liability for words used in proceedings concerning conduct.

No person shall be held liable in any civil action for words written or spoken in any complaint regarding, proceeding concerning, or investigation of, the professional conduct of any member of the Virginia State Bar, unless it is shown that such statements were false and were made willfully and maliciously.

Code 1950, § 54-47; 1988, c. 765; 1992, c. 574; 1996, c. 399.

Article 2. Bar Organization and Government.

§ 54.1-3909. Rules and regulations defining practice of law and prescribing procedures for practice of law by law students, codes of ethics, use of limited liability companies, and disciplinary procedure.

The Supreme Court may promulgate rules and regulations:

Defining the practice of law.

Prescribing procedures for the limited practice of law by third-year law students.

Prescribing a code of ethics governing the professional conduct of attorneys including the practice of law or patent law through professional law corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships, and a code of judicial ethics.

Prescribing procedures for disciplining, suspending, and disbarring attorneys.

Code 1950, § 54-48; 1973, c. 484; 1974, c. 456; 1988, c. 765; 1992, c. 574.

§ 54.1-3910. Organization and government of Virginia State Bar.

The Supreme Court may promulgate rules and regulations organizing and governing the Virginia State Bar. The Virginia State Bar shall act as an administrative agency of the Court for the purpose of investigating and reporting violations of rules and regulations adopted by the Court under this article. All advisory opinions issued by the Virginia State Bar's Standing Committees on Legal Ethics, Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation, and Unauthorized Practice of Law shall be incorporated into the Code of Virginia pursuant to § 30-154. All persons engaged in the practice of law in the Commonwealth shall be active members in good standing of the Virginia State Bar.

Code 1950, § 54-49; 1974, c. 536; 1991, c. 564; 2002, c. 306.

§ 54.1-3910.1. Enforcement, etc., of costs.

Orders of the Disciplinary Board regarding unpaid costs assessed by the Clerk of the Disciplinary System pursuant to Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13 of the Rules of the Supreme Court may be recorded, enforced, and satisfied as orders or decrees of a circuit court upon certification of such order by the Disciplinary Board.

2001, c. 225.

§ 54.1-3911. Transmission of certain information to House and Senate Committees for Courts of Justice.

The Virginia State Bar is authorized to transmit to the House and Senate Committees for Courts of Justice, upon request of the chairman of either Committee, any evidence that it has in its possession with reference to any pending disciplinary proceeding involving a licensed attorney whose name has been placed before the Committee for consideration for election as a judge of a court of this Commonwealth and the record of any previous disciplinary action taken against the attorney.

1985, c. 264, § 54-49.1; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3912. Fees.

The Supreme Court may promulgate rules and regulations fixing a schedule of fees to be paid by members of the Virginia State Bar for the purpose of administering this article, and providing for the collection and disbursement of such fees; but the annual fees to be paid by any attorney shall not exceed $250.

Code 1950, § 54-50; 1956, c. 256; 1964, c. 332; 1970, c. 605; 1975, c. 218; 1982, c. 602; 1986, c. 205; 1988, c. 765; 1993, c. 38; 1995, c. 15.

§ 54.1-3913. State Bar Fund; receipts; disbursements.

The State Bar Fund is continued as a special fund in the state treasury. All fees collected from the members of the Virginia State Bar as provided in § 54.1-3912 shall be paid into the state treasury immediately upon collection and credited to the State Bar Fund. All moneys paid into the Fund are hereby appropriated to the Virginia State Bar for the purpose of administering the provisions of this article. All disbursements from the Fund shall be made by the State Treasurer upon warrants of the Comptroller issued upon vouchers signed by an authorized officer of the Virginia State Bar in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the Supreme Court.

Code 1950, § 54-52; 1964, c. 531; 1974, c. 608; 1979, c. 440; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3913.1. (Effective until July 1, 2023) Clients' Protection Fund.

The Clients' Protection Fund is continued as a special fund of the Virginia State Bar. The Fund shall consist of moneys transferred to it from the State Bar Fund and the Virginia State Bar's Administration and Finance Account. Disbursements to the Clients' Protection Fund from the State Bar Fund shall be made only upon approval of the disbursements through the annual budgetary process of the Virginia State Bar. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 54.1-3912, the Supreme Court may adopt rules assessing members of the Virginia State Bar an annual fee of up to $25 to be deposited in the State Bar Fund and transferred to the Clients' Protection Fund.

1996, c. 346; 2007, c. 807.

§ 54.1-3913.1. (Effective July 1, 2023) Clients' Protection Fund.

The Clients' Protection Fund is continued as a special fund of the Virginia State Bar. The Fund shall consist of moneys transferred to it from the State Bar Fund and the Virginia State Bar's Administration and Finance Account. Disbursements to the Clients' Protection Fund from the State Bar Fund shall be made only upon approval of the disbursements through the annual budgetary process of the Virginia State Bar.

1996, c. 346.

§ 54.1-3914. Forfeiture of license for failing to pay fees; restoration of license.

Any attorney licensed to practice in this Commonwealth who fails for two successive years to pay the annual fees provided for by § 54.1-3912, shall thereby forfeit his license to practice law in this Commonwealth.

On or before July 31 of each year, the Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar shall notify every attorney whose fees for the two preceding years have not been paid. The notice shall be deemed to have been given if deposited by registered or certified mail addressed to such attorney at his address as shown on the Executive Director's official records. If payment is not received by the Executive Director within six months from the date of such notice, he shall remove the name of the attorney from his list of persons qualified to practice law in Virginia, and shall notify the clerk of the Supreme Court of Virginia that the name of the attorney has been removed. The name of any attorney so removed shall be restored only upon application of such person to the Executive Director accompanied by a sum equal to the aggregate of all fees which are due, plus a penalty of $100. Upon receipt of the fees and penalty, the Executive Director shall restore the name of such person to his list of persons qualified to practice law in Virginia and shall notify the clerk of the Supreme Court of Virginia that such name has been restored.

1960, c. 459, § 54-50.1; 1984, c. 359; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3915. Restrictions as to rules and regulations.

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this article, the Supreme Court shall not promulgate rules or regulations prescribing a code of ethics governing the professional conduct of attorneys which are inconsistent with any statute; nor shall it promulgate any rule or regulation or method of procedure which eliminates the jurisdiction of the courts to deal with the discipline of attorneys. In no case shall an attorney who demands to be tried by a court of competent jurisdiction for the violation of any rule or regulation adopted under this article be tried in any other manner.

Code 1950, § 54-51; 1974, c. 536; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3915.1. Rules regarding client accounts.

The Supreme Court shall not promulgate any disciplinary rules, rule or regulation requiring that attorneys or law firms deposit client funds in interest-bearing accounts, pooled or otherwise, on which the interest is required to be paid to any person or entity other than the client. Any disciplinary rule, rule or regulation previously promulgated which is inconsistent with this section is void and of no effect.

1995, c. 93.

§ 54.1-3916. Legal aid societies.

A. The Virginia State Bar through its governing body is authorized to promulgate rules and regulations governing the function and operation of legal aid societies to further the objective of providing legal assistance to persons requiring such assistance but unable to pay for it. To the extent that interest is paid by a financial institution on client funds deposited by attorneys or law firms in pooled interest bearing accounts established and maintained under circumstances which do not conflict with § 54.1-3915.1, any interest earned on such accounts shall be paid by the financial institution periodically, but at least quarterly, to the Legal Services Corporation of Virginia.

B. The rules and regulations adopted under subsection A may be enforced by the Virginia State Bar, or by the Attorney General if so authorized by the Virginia State Bar.

C. It shall be a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person, firm, corporation or other organization to render legal services as a legal aid society, or for any attorney to render legal services at the instance or request of any such person, firm, corporation or organization unless the person, firm, corporation or organization complies with the rules and regulations adopted under subsection A hereof. In addition to the criminal penalty, an injunction shall lie to prevent any violation of this section or rule or regulation adopted hereunder.

1956, Ex. Sess., c. 47; 1958, c. 253; 1988, c. 765; 1995, c. 93.

§ 54.1-3917. Master retirement program.

The Virginia State Bar through its governing body is authorized to approve and be a party to a master retirement program for the benefit of the members of the Virginia State Bar, their employees and families, including the power to execute, amend and revoke a master plan and trust agreement and to pay from the State Bar Fund in the manner provided in § 54.1-3913 the printing and administrative costs incurred in the promulgation and explanation of such program to the members of the Virginia State Bar. Any such program entered into or expenditure made before June 28, 1968, is hereby validated.

1968, c. 370, § 54-52.2; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3917.1. Group or individual insurance policies.

The Virginia State Bar, through its governing body, is authorized to endorse insurance coverages or to be a holder of group or individual insurance policies for the benefit of the members of the Virginia State Bar, their employees and families. In connection therewith, the Virginia State Bar is authorized to execute, amend and revoke agreements to provide such endorsement or such group or individual insurance policies to such members, employees and families. All group or individual insurance policies or coverages endorsed or held by the Virginia State Bar before July 1, 1995, are hereby approved.

1995, c. 65.

§ 54.1-3918. Availability of Virginia State Bar membership list.

When requested, copies of the Virginia State Bar membership address list shall be made available to Virginia professional legal organizations which operate not for profit and which regularly conduct continuing legal education programs in the Commonwealth. If specified by the requestor, the list shall be made available in computer sorted zip code sequence in a mailing label format suitable for bulk mailing. Lists shall be provided by the Virginia State Bar on a cost recovery basis.

Each request for the mailing list shall be made in writing by requesting organizations to the Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar. Each request shall state the date the list is needed by the requestor and each request shall be postmarked no less than thirty days prior to such date. The cost of mailing or shipping shall be borne by the requestor.

1981, c. 496, § 54-52.2:1; 1988, c. 765.

Article 3. Board of Bar Examiners.

§ 54.1-3919. Composition of Board; quorum.

The Board of Bar Examiners shall be responsible for the examination of applicants and otherwise ascertaining the qualifications of applicants for admission to the bar and shall be composed of five attorneys who are residents of the Commonwealth. Three members of the Board shall constitute a quorum for holding examinations or the transaction of other business. The word "Board" when used in this chapter shall mean the Board of Bar Examiners.

Code 1950, §§ 54-53, 54-55; 1988, c. 765; 1998, c. 796.

§ 54.1-3920. Appointment and terms of members.

The members of the Board shall be appointed by the Supreme Court for five-year terms. Vacancies shall be filled by the Court for the full term of five years.

Code 1950, § 54-54; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3921. Board to elect one of its members president; appointment of secretary and treasurer.

The Board shall elect one of its members to serve as its president, and may appoint a qualified member of the Virginia State Bar to act as secretary and treasurer of the Board.

Code 1950, § 54-56; 1972, c. 444; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3922. Powers, rules and regulations.

The Board shall do, or cause to be done, all things it considers necessary, convenient or expedient in connection with the preparation, conduct and grading of examinations, in determining the qualifications of applicants, in determining requirements for taking and passing examinations, and in granting such certificates to practice law as may be authorized by the Supreme Court. The Board may promulgate rules and regulations to aid in the exercise of its authority and in the discharge of its duties.

1976, c. 377, § 54-57.1; 1988, c. 765; 1998, c. 796.

§ 54.1-3923. Compensation of members, secretary, treasurer and character and fitness committee; expenses of examinations.

The members of the Board and members of any character and fitness committee shall each receive such compensation as established by the Rules of the Supreme Court for the time spent in the discharge of their duties as members, and shall be entitled to reimbursement for such of their actual expenses as are necessary and ordinarily incident to travel as members of the Board or such character and fitness committee to be computed in accordance with §§ 2.2-2814 through 2.2-2826. The compensation of the secretary and treasurer shall be fixed by the Board. The compensation for services and expenses shall not exceed the amount received as fees from applicants, which shall be fixed by the rules and regulations adopted by the Board.

Code 1950, § 54-58; 1954, c. 709; 1956, c. 252; 1960, c. 90; 1966, c. 25; 1970, c. 255; 1987, c. 339; 1988, c. 765; 1992, c. 734; 1993, c. 262.

§ 54.1-3924. Fees paid by applicants.

In order to defray the compensation, mileage and expenses above provided for, the Board shall fix by general rule or special order the fees to be paid by each applicant.

Code 1950, § 54-59; 1988, c. 765.

Article 4. Examinations and Issuance of Licenses.

§ 54.1-3925. Application for examination.

A person desiring to take an examination under this article shall file with the Board his application therefor in such form as the Board may require not later than May 10 for the next following July examination and December 15 for the next following February examination. An application shall be deemed to be timely filed if (i) it is transmitted expense prepaid to the Office of the Secretary of the Board by priority, express, registered, or certified mail via the United States Postal Service, or by a third party commercial carrier for next-day delivery, and (ii) the official receipt therefor issued by the United States Postal Service or by such third party commercial carrier, which shall be exhibited on demand of the Secretary, shows such transmission or mailing to the Secretary's office on or before the prescribed deadline.

Code 1950, § 54-60; 1952, c. 553; 1960, c. 379; 1966, c. 157; 1968, c. 74; 1972, cc. 535, 824; 1974, c. 686; 1980, c. 533; 1987, c. 265; 1987, Sp. Sess., c. 2; 1988, c. 765; 1992, c. 734; 1998, c. 71; 2011, c. 709.

§ 54.1-3925.1. Proof of character and fitness required of applicant; character and fitness committee; fees.

A. Before issuing to any applicant a license or certificate to practice law in Virginia, the Board shall have found from satisfactory evidence produced by the applicant in such form as the Board may require that the applicant is a person of honest demeanor and good moral character, is over the age of eighteen and possesses the requisite fitness to perform the obligations and responsibilities of a practicing attorney at law.

B. In making such determinations, the Board shall conduct such further inquiries, interviews and hearings as the Board may deem necessary. At the request of the Board, the Supreme Court may appoint a separate character and fitness committee, some of the members of which may be persons who are not licensed attorneys, to assist in reviewing character and fitness evidence and to make recommendations to the Board based upon standards adopted by the Board; however, no applicant shall be denied a license on character and fitness reasons except by action of a majority of the Board, after notice to the applicant and an opportunity for the applicant to be heard before the Board.

C. The Board shall from time to time set character and fitness application fees sufficient to cover the costs of the character and fitness process.

1992, c. 734; 1998, c. 796.

§ 54.1-3925.2. Access to criminal history records.

The Board is authorized to obtain criminal history record information relating to an applicant from any state or federal law-enforcement agency. Any information so obtained is for the exclusive use of the Board and the character and fitness committee and shall not be released to any other person or agency except in furtherance of the investigation of the applicant or with the authorization of the applicant or upon court order.

1992, c. 734.

§ 54.1-3925.3. Authority for subpoenas; qualified privilege and immunity.

A. In the conduct of investigations and hearings, the Board and character and fitness committee may administer oaths and affirmations and may issue subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and the production of papers, books, accounts, documents, and other records or tangible evidence relevant to any such investigation or hearing. Any subpoena shall be issued in the name of the Board and be signed by a member of the Board or by its secretary.

B. If any person fails or refuses to obey a subpoena, or to give testimony, the Board shall notify the circuit court of the county or city wherein the hearing is or was to have been held, or where the documents or tangible things were to have been produced. On receipt of the notice, the circuit court shall issue an order compelling such person's attendance or testimony, or both, or the production of the documents or tangible things, to the same extent as could be required in a proceeding in court.

C. Information furnished to and testimony given before the Board or the character and fitness committee in the course of an investigation or hearing shall be privileged, and any person furnishing information or giving testimony shall be immune from civil liability therefor, unless it is shown that such person was motivated by actual malice.

1992, c. 734.

§ 54.1-3926. Preliminary proof of education required of applicant.

Before an applicant will be permitted to take any examination under this article the applicant shall furnish to the Board satisfactory evidence that he has:

1. Completed all degree requirements from a law school approved by the American Bar Association or the Board; or

2. Received a bachelor's degree from an accredited baccalaureate institution of higher education and studied law for three years, consisting of not less than 18 hours per week for at least 40 weeks per year in the office of an attorney practicing in this Commonwealth, whose full time is devoted to the practice of law; or

3. Studied law for at least three years partly in a law school approved by the American Bar Association or the Board and partly, for not less than 18 hours per week for at least 40 weeks per year, in the office of an attorney practicing in this Commonwealth whose full time is devoted to the practice of law; or

4. Received a bachelor's degree from an accredited baccalaureate institution of higher education and studied law for three years, consisting of not less than 18 hours per week for at least 40 weeks per year, with a retired circuit court judge who served the Commonwealth as a circuit court judge for a minimum of 10 years and who at the time of commencement of the three-year study period was retired for not more than five years.

The attorney in whose office or the judge with whom the applicant intends to study shall be approved by the Board, which shall prescribe reasonable conditions as to the course of study.

Code 1950, § 54-62; 1952, c. 553; 1960, c. 379; 1980, c. 533; 1988, c. 765; 1995, c. 336; 1998, cc. 119, 796.

§ 54.1-3927. Time and place of examination.

The Board shall hold at least two examinations each year, at such times as it may prescribe by general rule or special order. If only two examinations are held in any one year, they shall not be less than four months apart. One examination shall be held in the City of Richmond, and one in the City of Roanoke each year, unless for good cause it is necessary to hold it elsewhere.

Code 1950, § 54-63; 1973, c. 284; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3928. Issuance of license or certificate; list of persons certified to Supreme Court.

The Board shall issue a license to practice law in this Commonwealth to every applicant who successfully passes the examination on all the subjects required and complies with the requirements of this chapter and the rules of the Board. The Board shall issue a certificate to practice law in the Commonwealth to an applicant if the Board is satisfied that the applicant meets the criteria for the certificate established by Rules of the Supreme Court.

The license or certificate shall be signed by at least three members of the Board. The Board shall forthwith certify to the Supreme Court a list of persons whom it has licensed or to whom it has issued a certificate, and the list shall be spread upon the records of the Court.

Code 1950, § 54-64; 1988, c. 765; 1998, c. 796.

§ 54.1-3929. Preservation of examination papers.

The essay portion of the examination papers shall be kept on file in the office of the secretary and treasurer in Richmond for one year after the examination, after which it may be destroyed.

Code 1950, § 54-65; 1973, c. 284; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3930. Reexaminations.

Any applicant who fails an examination given after July 15, 1960, may be reexamined not more than four additional times upon showing to the Board that he has diligently pursued the study of law since the former examination and that he remains otherwise qualified under the provisions of this article. However, the Board may allow an applicant who has taken the examination five times to take additional examinations when, in the discretion of the Board, the applicant has shown mitigating circumstances which constitute good and sufficient cause for the applicant's failing the prior examination.

Code 1950, § 54-66; 1960, c. 379; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3931. Granting certificates without examination; law professors.

A. The Supreme Court shall have discretion to grant a certificate without examination to any attorney who has been admitted to practice law before the court of last resort of any state or territory of the United States or the District of Columbia for at least five years. The certificate shall entitle the holder, after paying his license tax, to practice in the courts of this Commonwealth.

B. The Supreme Court shall also have discretion to grant a certificate without examination to any person connected with any foreign embassy or legation to appear in the courts of this Commonwealth in all matters connected with his official duties, provided that the person has been admitted to practice in the court of last resort of the jurisdiction of the embassy or legation to which he is attached or he has received a degree from a law school approved by the American Bar Association.

C. The Supreme Court shall have the authority to promulgate rules and regulations allowing professors in law schools located in the Commonwealth, which are accredited by the American Bar Association, to become associate members of the Virginia State Bar. Nothing in this subsection shall preclude the granting of a certificate without examination to a professor who is otherwise eligible for such a certificate under any other provision of this section.

D. The Supreme Court may authorize the Board or any committee thereof to administer the provisions of this section.

E. All other persons shall take the examinations and comply with the applicable provisions of this chapter.

Code 1950, § 54-67; 1988, c. 765; 1998, c. 796; 2013, c. 396.

Article 5. Fees.

§ 54.1-3932. Lien for fees.

A. Any person having or claiming a right of action sounding in tort, or for liquidated or unliquidated damages on contract or for a cause of action for annulment or divorce, may contract with any attorney to prosecute the same, and the attorney shall have a lien upon the cause of action as security for his fees for any services rendered in relation to the cause of action or claim. When any such contract is made, and written notice of the claim of such lien is given to the opposite party, his attorney or agent, any settlement or adjustment of the cause of action shall be void against the lien so created, except as proof of liability on such cause of action. Nothing in this section shall affect the existing law in respect to champertous contracts. In causes of action for annulment or divorce an attorney may not exercise his claim until the divorce judgment is final and all residual disputes regarding marital property are concluded. Nothing in this section shall affect the existing law in respect to exemptions from creditor process under federal or state law.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions in subsection A, a court in a case of annulment or divorce may, in its discretion, exclude spousal support and child support from the scope of the attorney's lien.

Code 1950, § 54-70; 1988, c. 765; 2001, c. 495.

§ 54.1-3933. Decreeing fee out of funds under control of court.

No court shall decree or order any fee or compensation to counsel to be paid out of money or property under the control of the court, unless the claim is in the bill, petition, or other proceeding, of which the parties interested have due notice, or unless the parties are notified in writing that application will be made to the court for such decree or order.

Code 1950, § 54-71; 1988, c. 765.

Article 6. Revocation or Suspension of Licenses; Disbarment Proceedings.

§ 54.1-3934. Revocation of license by Board.

The Board of Bar Examiners may, for good cause, revoke any license issued by it at any time before there has been a qualification under it in any of the courts of this Commonwealth.

Code 1950, § 54-72; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3935. Procedure for disciplining attorneys by three-judge circuit court.

A. Any attorney who is the subject of a disciplinary proceeding or the Virginia State Bar may elect to terminate the proceeding before the Bar Disciplinary Board or a district committee and demand that further proceedings be conducted by a three-judge circuit court. Such demand shall be made in accordance with the rules and procedures set forth in Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13 of the Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia. Upon receipt of a demand for a three-judge circuit court, the Virginia State Bar shall file a complaint in a circuit court where venue is proper and the chief judge of the circuit court shall issue a rule against the attorney to show cause why the attorney shall not be disciplined. At the time the rule is issued by the circuit court, the court shall certify the fact of such issuance and the time and place of the hearing thereon to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who shall designate the three-judge circuit court, which shall consist of three circuit court judges of circuits other than the circuit in which the case is pending, to hear and decide the case. The rules and procedures set forth in Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13 of the Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia shall govern any attorney disciplinary proceeding before a three-judge circuit court.

B. Bar Counsel of the Virginia State Bar shall prosecute the case. Special counsel may be appointed to prosecute the case pursuant to § 2.2-510.

C. The three-judge circuit court hearing the case may dismiss the case or impose any sanction authorized by Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13 of the Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia. In any case in which the attorney is found to have engaged in any criminal activity that violates the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct and results in the loss of property of one or more of the attorney's clients, the three-judge circuit court shall also require, in instances where the attorney is allowed to retain his license, or is permitted to have his license reinstated or restored, that such attorney maintain professional malpractice insurance during the time for which he is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth. The Virginia State Bar shall establish standards setting forth the minimum amount of coverage that the attorney shall maintain in order to meet the requirements of this subsection. Before resuming the practice of law in the Commonwealth, the attorney shall certify to the Virginia State Bar that he has the required insurance and shall provide the name of the insurance carrier and the policy number.

D. The attorney, may, as of right, appeal from the judgment of the three-judge circuit court to the Supreme Court pursuant to the procedure for filing an appeal from a trial court, as set forth in Part 5 of the Rules of Supreme Court of Virginia. In any such appeal, the Supreme Court may, upon petition of the attorney, stay the effect of an order of revocation or suspension during the pendency of the appeal. Any other sanction imposed by a three-judge circuit court shall be automatically stayed prior to or during the pendency of the appeal.

E. Nothing in this section shall affect the right of a court to require from an attorney security for good behavior or to fine the attorney for contempt of court.

Code 1950, §§ 54-74, 54-75; 1956, Ex. Sess., c. 33; 1964, c. 201; 1970, c. 430; 1972, c. 103; 1980, c. 289; 1984, cc. 289, 703; 1988, c. 765; 1997, c. 238; 1998, cc. 339, 637; 2009, c. 287; 2017, cc. 40, 91.

§ 54.1-3936. Protection of client interests in proceedings pending disciplinary action.

A. If Bar Counsel has reasonable cause to believe that an attorney is engaging in any activity which is unlawful or violates the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct and which will result in loss of property of one or more of the attorney's clients or any other person, Bar Counsel may submit an ex parte petition to the circuit court of the city or county wherein the attorney who is the subject of the petition resides or is doing business for the issuance of an order authorizing the immediate inspection by and production to representatives of the petitioner of any records, documents, and physical or other evidence belonging to the subject attorney or any professional partnership, professional limited liability company, or professional corporation with which the subject attorney is associated. The court may issue such order without notice to the attorney if the petition, supported by affidavit of the petitioner and such other evidence as the court may require, shows reasonable cause to believe that such action is required to prevent immediate loss of property of one or more of the subject attorney's clients or any other person. The papers filed with the court pursuant to this subsection shall be placed under seal.

B. If Bar Counsel has reasonable cause to believe that an attorney is engaging in any activity which is unlawful or in violation of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct and which will result in loss of property of one or more of the attorney's clients or any other person, Bar Counsel may file a petition with the circuit court of the county or city wherein the subject attorney resides or is doing business. The petition may seek the following relief: (i) an injunction prohibiting the withdrawal of any bank deposits or the disposition of any other assets belonging to or subject to the control of the subject attorney or any professional partnership, professional limited liability company, or professional corporation with which the subject attorney is associated; and (ii) the appointment of a receiver for all or part of the funds or property of the subject attorney's law practice or of any professional partnership, professional limited liability company, or professional corporation with which the subject attorney is associated. The subject attorney shall be given notice of the time and place of the hearing on the petition and an opportunity to offer evidence. The court, in its discretion, may require a receiver appointed pursuant to this section to post bond, with or without surety. The papers filed with the court under this subsection shall be placed under seal until such time as the court grants an injunction or appoints a receiver. The court may issue an injunction, appoint a receiver or provide such other relief as the court may consider proper if, after a hearing, the court finds that such relief is necessary or appropriate to prevent loss of property of one or more of the subject attorney's clients or any other person.

C. In any proceeding under subsection B, any professional partnership, professional limited liability company, or professional corporation with which the subject attorney is associated and any other person or entity known to Bar Counsel to be indebted to or having in his possession property, real or personal, belonging to or subject to the control of the subject attorney's law practice and which property Bar Counsel reasonably believes may become part of the receivership assets, shall be served with a copy of the petition and notice of the time and place of the hearing.

D. The receiver shall, unless otherwise ordered by the court, (i) prepare and file with the Virginia State Bar an inventory of all case files under the subject attorney's control; (ii) notify in writing all of the subject attorney's clients of the appointment and take whatever action the receiver deems appropriate to protect the interests of the clients until such time as the clients have had an opportunity to obtain successor counsel, and in the case of a deceased attorney, notify in writing the personal representative, if any, of the deceased attorney's estate and the commissioner of accounts of the circuit court in which the deceased attorney's estate is being administered that the receiver may have a claim against the deceased attorney's estate for fees and costs of the receivership; (iii) identify and take control of all bank accounts, including without limitation trust and operating accounts, over which the subject attorney had signatory authority in connection with his law practice; (iv) prepare and submit an accounting of receipts and disbursements and account balances of all funds under the receiver's control for submission to the court within four months of the appointment and annually thereafter until the receivership is terminated by the court; (v) attempt to collect any accounts receivable related to the subject attorney's law practice; (vi) identify and attempt to recover any assets wrongfully diverted from the subject attorney's law practice, or assets acquired with funds wrongfully diverted from the subject attorney's law practice; (vii) terminate the subject attorney's law practice; (viii) reduce to cash all of the assets of the subject attorney's law practice, and in the case of a deceased attorney notify in writing the personal representative, if any, of the deceased attorney's estate, and the commissioner of accounts of the circuit court in which the deceased attorney's estate is being administered of any proposed liquidations of assets; (ix) determine the nature and amount of all claims of creditors, including clients, of the subject attorney's law practice; and (x) prepare and file with the court a report of such assets and claims proposing a distribution to such creditors and, in the case of a deceased attorney, notify in writing the personal representative, if any, of the deceased attorney's estate and the commissioner of accounts of the circuit court in which the deceased attorney's estate is being administered of the proposed distribution of the receivership funds. Upon the court's approval of the receiver's report, at a hearing after such notice as the court may require to creditors, the personal representative of the subject attorney's estate and the commissioner of accounts of the circuit court in which the deceased attorney's estate is being administered, the receiver shall distribute the assets of the subject attorney's law practice first to clients whose funds were or ought to have been held in trust by the subject attorney, then to the receiver for fees, costs, and expenses awarded pursuant to subsection E, and thereafter to the general creditors of the subject attorney's law practice, including clients whose funds were not required to have been held in trust by the subject attorney, and then to the subject attorney or the subject attorney's personal representative.

E. A receiver appointed pursuant to this section shall be entitled, upon proper application to the court in which the appointment was made, to recover an award of reasonable fees, costs, and expenses. If there are not sufficient nontrust funds to pay the award, then the shortfall shall be paid by the Virginia State Bar, to the extent that the Virginia State Bar has funds available. The Virginia State Bar shall have a claim against the subject attorney or the subject attorney's estate for the amount paid.

F. The court may determine whether any assets under the receiver's control should be returned to the subject attorney or the subject attorney's personal representative during the receivership.

G. This statute is declared to be remedial. Its purpose is to protect the interests of clients adversely affected by attorneys who have engaged in misconduct. It is to be liberally administered in order to protect those interests and thereby the public's interest in the quality of legal services provided by Virginia attorneys.

1985, c. 418, § 54-74.01; 1988, c. 765; 1992, c. 574; 1997, c. 239; 2005, cc. 184, 212.

§ 54.1-3937. Procedure for revocation of certificate of registration of professional law corporations or professional limited liability companies.

A. If the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals or any circuit court of this Commonwealth observes, or if a complaint, verified by affidavit, is made by any person to a circuit court having jurisdiction where the alleged violation occurred, that any law corporation or professional limited liability company has willfully failed to comply with the applicable ethical standards of the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility or the applicable statutes governing professional corporations or professional limited liability companies, such court may issue a rule against such law corporation or law professional limited liability company to show cause why its certificate of registration should not be revoked. If the complaint, verified by affidavit, is made by the Bar Counsel or a district committee of the Virginia State Bar, the court shall issue a rule against the law corporation or law professional limited liability company to show cause why its certificate of registration should not be revoked. However, such rule shall not issue if the violation is (i) that of one or several persons only and the interest of justice and the protection of the public can be fairly served by appropriate disciplinary proceedings against the individuals involved, or (ii) that the law corporation does not have a valid certificate of registration.

B. If the rule is issued by the Supreme Court, the rule shall be returnable to the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond. At the time the rule is issued, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court shall designate three circuit court judges to hear and decide the case.

If the rule is issued by a circuit court or the Court of Appeals, it shall thereupon certify the fact of such issuance to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice shall designate three circuit court judges of circuits other than the circuit in which the case is pending to hear and decide the case.

C. Bar Counsel of the Virginia State Bar shall prosecute the case. Special counsel may be appointed to prosecute the case pursuant to § 2.2-510.

D. If, after notice and opportunity to be heard, the law corporation or law professional limited liability company is found guilty by the court of a willful failure to comply with the applicable ethical standards in the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility or the applicable statutes governing professional corporations or professional limited liability companies, the court may (i) reprimand the professional corporation or professional limited liability company, (ii) put it on terms to comply with the applicable law or ethical standards within a reasonable time upon condition that failure to comply shall constitute grounds for suspension or revocation of the certificate of registration or for other disciplinary action, or (iii) suspend or revoke the certificate of registration. If the violation is such that it can be corrected upon notice to the law corporation or law professional limited liability company and it is corrected to the satisfaction of the court, or if the violation is that of one or several persons only, the certificate of registration shall not be suspended or revoked if the interest of justice and the protection of the public can be fairly served by applicable disciplinary proceedings against the individuals involved.

E. The law corporation or professional limited liability company may, as of right, appeal from the judgment of the court to the Supreme Court by petition based upon a true transcript of the record, which shall be made up and certified as in actions at law. In all cases where a professional corporation's or professional limited liability company's certificate of registration has been revoked or suspended by the court, such revocation or suspension shall be suspended pending appeal.

F. In any proceedings under this section the defendant shall be entitled to a full and fair hearing and representation by counsel.

1974, c. 674, § 54-74.1; 1980, c. 289; 1984, c. 703; 1988, c. 765; 1992, c. 574.

§ 54.1-3938. Service of process in license revocation proceedings.

If personal service of process cannot be had upon the defendant in license revocation proceedings, proceedings may be had by order of publication on proper affidavit.

Code 1950, § 54-76; 1987, c. 567; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3938.1. Subpoena issued pursuant to law of another jurisdiction.

Whenever a subpoena is sought in this Commonwealth pursuant to the laws of another jurisdiction for use in lawyer discipline or disability proceedings, and where the request for the subpoena has been duly approved under the laws of the other jurisdiction, the chair or a vice-chair of the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board, upon receiving an application from Bar Counsel, may issue a subpoena as provided in this section to compel the attendance of witnesses and production of documents in the county or city in the Commonwealth where the witness resides or is employed or elsewhere as agreed by the witness. The circuit courts shall have the power to enforce a subpoena issued pursuant to this section and to adjudge disobedience thereof as contempt. The privilege extended by this section shall be available only to those jurisdictions that extend a similar privilege for disciplinary proceedings in this Commonwealth.

2000, cc. 24, 188.

Article 7. Solicitation of Professional Employment.

§ 54.1-3939. Definitions.

As used in this article:

"Agent" means any person who acts for another with or without compensation at the request, or with the knowledge and acquiescence, of the other in dealing with third persons.

"Runner" or "capper" means any person acting within the Commonwealth as an agent for an attorney in the solicitation of professional employment for the attorney.

"Solicitation of professional employment" means obtaining or attempting to obtain, for an attorney, the opportunity to represent or render other legal services to another person, for which services the attorney will or may receive compensation. Solicitation of professional employment shall not include conduct (i) limited to mere statements of opinion respecting the ability of an attorney, (ii) pursuant to a uniform legal aid or lawyer referral plan approved by the Virginia State Bar or (iii) pursuant to any qualified legal services plan or contract of legal services insurance.

Code 1950, § 54-78; 1956, Ex. Sess., c. 33; 1964, c. 622, §§ 54-83.1:1, 54-83.1:2; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3940. Solicitation.

It shall be unlawful for an attorney to solicit professional employment in a manner that violates the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility.

1964, c. 622, § 54-83.1:2; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3941. Unlawful to act as runners or cappers.

It shall be unlawful for any person to act singly or in concert with others as a runner or capper for an attorney.

Code 1950, § 54-79; 1956, Ex. Sess., c. 33; 1964, c. 622; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3942. Validity of contract.

Any contract for professional employment secured by an attorney in violation of this article shall be void and unenforceable.

Code 1950, § 54-83; 1964, c. 622, § 54-83.1:4; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3943. Injunction against running, capping and soliciting.

The attorney for the Commonwealth, or any person, firm or corporation against whom any cause of action is or has been asserted, may maintain a suit for an injunction against any attorney who has induced another to solicit or encourage his employment, or against any person, firm, partnership or corporation which has acted for another in the capacity of a runner or capper, or against any person engaged by an attorney to solicit employment for the attorney, whether or not the solicitation was successful. The court may enjoin and permanently restrain such person, his agents, representatives and principals from soliciting any such claims against any person, firm or corporation subsequent to the date of the injunction.

1954, c. 707, § 54-83.1; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-3944. Penalty for violation.

Any person violating the provisions of this article shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. In addition, any person employed as an officer, director, trustee, clerk, servant or agent of this Commonwealth or of any political subdivision of the Commonwealth found guilty of violating the provisions of this article shall forfeit the right of his office and his employment.

Code 1950, § 54-82; 1964, c. 622, § 54-83.1:3; 1988, c. 765.

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