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Legal Organization in Virginia

The state of Virginia has more than 29,000 lawyers. Virginia is the only state with both a mandatory state bar association, the Virginia State Bar, and a voluntary state bar association, the Virginia Bar Association.

Virginia is home to more than 120 local, minority, or specialty bar associations that lawyers join on a voluntary basis. The biggest specialty bar associations in Virginia include the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

At Lawyer Legion, we understand the important role that these legal organizations play in helping the public find an attorney in Virginia.

Virginia State Bar

Created in 1938, the Virginia State Bar (VSB) was an administrative agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia, unifying Virginia lawyers into a mandatory state bar. The VSB is governed by its Council and Executive Committee. The mission of the Virginia State Bar is to protect the public, regulate the legal profession of Virginia, and improve the legal profession and the judicial system.

The VSB receives no tax dollars, but is instead supported by annual lawyer license fees, self-generated income, and volunteer service. The main purpose of the VSB is to enforce the rules and regulations that govern lawyer ethical behavior and the unauthorized practice of law and disciplines lawyers who violate the rules. The VSB also regulates attorneys’ completion of mandatory continuing legal education (MCLE).

The VSB is separate from the the Virginia Bar Association, which is an independent nonprofit that lawyers join voluntarily. The job of initially licensing attorneys to practice law in Virginia is accomplished by the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners. The Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission handles complaints about judges.

Contact Information

Virginia State Bar
1111 East Main Street, Suite 700
Richmond, VA 23219-3565

Virginia Bar Association

The Virginia Bar Association is the largest voluntary legal organization in Virginia. At last count, its more than 5,500 members serve the public and the profession by working statewide to improve the law and administration of justice while advancing collegiality among peers. Founded in 1888, the VBA is committed to promoting the highest standards of integrity, professionalism, and excellence in the legal profession.

Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

The VACDL in Richmond, VA, can trace its roots back to 1992. It was originally called the Virginia College of Criminal Defense Attorneys. In 2002, it changed its name to the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The VACDL is affiliated with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).

Virginia Trial Lawyers Association

Established in Williamsburg in 1959, the VTLA enhances the knowledge, skills and professionalism of trial lawyers. With approximately 2,000 members across the Commonwealth, the VTLA is committed to improving the law and the fairness of Virginia’s civil and criminal system of justice.

Lawyer Referral Services in Virginia

In addition to the Lawyer Referral Service of the Virginia State Bar, various county level bar associations also administer their own lawyer referral services including the Lawyer Referral Service (LRS) of the Fairfax Bar Association, the Alexandria Lawyer Referral Service,  Arlington County Bar Association LRS, the Norfolk and Portsmouth Bar Association LRS.

Other Nonprofit Legal Assistance Organizations in Virginia

Statewide speciality bar associations include:

  • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Virginia
  • Virginia Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
  • Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys
  • Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys
  • Virginia Bar Association
  • Virginia Beach Bar Association
  • Virginia Creditors Bar Association
  • Virginia Real Estate Attorneys League
  • Virginia State Bar
  • Virginia Trial Lawyers Association

The bar associations in Virginia include:

  • Alexandria Bar Association
  • Arlington County Bar Association
  • Asian Pacific-American Bar Association of Virginia
  • Augusta County Bar Association
  • Bar Association of Richmond
  • Charlottesville-Albemarle Bar Association
  • Chesterfield County Bar Association
  • Fairfax Bar Association
  • Fauquier County Bar Association
  • Federal Bar - Northern Virginia Chapter
  • Federal Bar - Richmond Chapter
  • Federal Bar - Roanoke Chapter
  • Federal Bar - Tidewater Chapter
  • Fredericksburg Area Bar Association
  • Greater Peninsula Womens' Bar Association
  • Greater Richmond Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Hampton Bar Association
  • Harrisonburg-Rockingham Bar Association
  • Henrico County Bar Association
  • Hill Tucker Bar Association
  • Hispanic Bar Association of Virginia
  • Local Government Attorneys of Virginia
  • Loudon County Bar Association
  • Lynchburg Bar Association
  • McLean Bar Association
  • Metropolitan Richmond Womens' Bar Association
  • Newport News Bar Association
  • Norfolk-Portsmouth Bar Association
  • Northern Virginia Black Attorneys Association
  • Old Dominion Bar Association
  • Peninsula Bar Association
  • Prince William County Bar Association
  • Roanoke Bar Association
  • Salem-Roanoke County Bar Association
  • Smyth County Bar Association
    South Hampton Roads Bar Association
  • Tidewater Bankruptcy Bar Association
  • Virginia Women Attorneys Association
  • Warren County Bar
  • Winchester-Frederick County Bar Association

Other non-profit organizations provide legal assistance to individuals in Virginia include:

  • ACLU of Virginia
  • Virginia Lawyers for the Arts
  • Blue Ridge Legal Services
  • Central Virginia Legal Aid Society
  • Legal Aid Justice Center
  • Legal Services of Northern Virginia
  • Potomac Legal Aid Society
  • Rappahannock Legal Services
  • Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society
  • Virginia Legal Aid Society
  • Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts


Additional Resources

Virginia Attorney Records Search - Visit the website of the Virginia State Bar to search for information about attorneys licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia. You can conduct a search for disciplined attorneys to find those attorneys sanctioned for violating ethics rules; attorneys in private practice without malpractice insurance, and lawyers who are not in good standing or eligible to practice law because their licenses are suspended or revoked.

Virginia Lawyer Directory - From the Virginia State Bar website, you can find a partial list of Virginia State Bar members. The attorneys on the list include only active members who are in good standing and have chosen not to opt-out of the directory.

This article was last updated on Monday, December 23, 2019.