The West Virginia Bar Foundation celebrated its 25th Anniversary during the July 1, 2013- June 30, 2014 fiscal year.
Incorporated on December 30, 1988 as a non-profit corporation, the Bar Foundation has continued to build its reputation as the philanthropic organization for the legal profession and the justice system in the state. From its beginnings as the owner of real property and buildings as well as the efficient initiation and administration of the Interest On Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program, which generated more than $15 million for free civil legal services for low income citizens, the Bar Foundation has dramatically increased its focus on grantmaking and programs to benefit lawyers and the general public.
The highlight of the 25th year was the compilation of a commemorative history book detailing the Bar Foundation’s achievements and accomplishments from 1988 through 2013. Utilizing the actual Board of Directors meeting minutes with old and new photos, the booklet provided an overview of what actions and programs were undertaken.
In addition, there were other milestones attained during the past year through the decisions made by the diverse fifteen member Board of Directors, including:
• Almost $30,000 in grants were provided to worthwhile charitable entities to provide training for lawyers involved in student legal matters, anti-bullying initiatives, child abuse and neglect prevention and the Public Service Scholarship presented to a qualified student at the WVU College of Law. Total grants went over $200,000 in just the past six years.
• The successful Lunch and Laughs with a Legal Legend event honored Federal Court Judge Irene Keeley with proceeds being designated for scholarships for law school students. More than $33,000 has been generated for law student scholarships during the three years of Lunch and Laughs.
• The Lawyer Leadership Institute continued to receive exceedingly high marks from the newer lawyers who participated in this weekend leadership training activity. Almost 30 future lawyer leaders from all parts of the state and all types of legal practice have participated in the past three years and the lawyer and judicial speakers, the format, the topics and the networking opportunities have all been superbly rated.
• For the 16th year, the Bar Foundation Fellows Dinner, which recognized 18 judges and lawyers for their outstanding service, was very well received. An added special attraction to celebrate the 25th Anniversary, was The Bob Noone Show, which had coincidentally made its first legal parody performance twenty-five years ago. With more than 5,000 lawyers and judges in West Virginia, only approximately 300 have received the high honor of being selected as a Bar Foundation Fellow.
• A joint mentoring program was put together by the American Bar Foundation Fellows, the Bar Foundation Fellows and the American Inns of Court. By utilizing experienced lawyers from these groups who will be matched up with newer lawyers, a pilot project is planned for the Northern District Federal Court system.
• The Investment Fund, created in 2012 by the Board of Directors from the proceeds of the sale of the Bar Foundation’s two pieces of property in Charleston, increased based upon decisions to change the mix of financial instruments in a more proactive manner.
The diverse fifteen member Board of Directors continued its active role in important governance matters through its quarterly and special meetings, committee conference calls, financial review of the clean Independent Audit and monthly bank reconciliations and administration supervision with less than 5% of total assets attributed to administrative costs.