May 24, 2023
Bruce H. Russell II Named 2023 Local Bar Leader of the Year
Bruce H. Russell, the longest-serving president of Southwest Virginia’s Russell County Bar Association, has been awarded the Local Bar Leader of the Year by the Conference of Local and Specialty Bar Associations (CLSBA). A member of VSB Council representing the 28th Circuit, Russell has served as president of the Russell County Bar Association since 2013.
Russell was nominated by David R. Tiller of Lebanon who wrote: “When I first started practicing over twenty-three years ago, our local bar did three things: 1. Hold a Christmas party, 2. Occasionally consider judicial endorsements, and 3. Send a card and flowers when one of our members went to the ‘great bar association in the sky.’ That all changed when Bruce took over, and I suppose that is why we keep electing him as our Bar president.”
Tiller further noted that Russell “…inspires and motivates our members to work together and with other attorneys in our region and beyond to advance the Rule of Law and the esteem of the legal profession.”
Under Bruce’s leadership, the Russell County Bar implemented and expanded numerous community service projects, the centerpiece of which has been Law Day programming. The past two years, the Russell County Bar received an Award of Merit from the CLSBA for its comprehensive Law Day events.
The 2021 Law Day featured three main projects:
1. Service Project: A blood Drive in cooperation with Marsh Blood Services, which collected dozens of pints of whole blood for our local blood bank;
2. Legal Outreach Program: A pro bono legal clinic in which our members joined together on a Saturday to provide completely free legal advice to dozens of individuals who called or came through the door from sunup to sundown, and;
3. Informational Programming: A Law Day video, which spread understanding and appreciation of the Rule of Law to students and the community.
The 2022 Law Day event was a joint project of the Russell County Bar (founding and organizing sponsor), Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society, Tazewell County Bar, Washington County Bar, City of Bristol Bar, Buchanan County Bar, the 28th District Criminal Defense Bar, the Virginia Mountain/Valley Lawyers’ Alliance (VMVLA), students and faculty from the Appalachian School of Law, Marsh Blood Services, and the Virginia Red Cross. The Law Day event included visits from Congressman Morgan Griffith and Virginia State Bar Immediate-Past President Jay B. Myerson.
Russell devotes much of his energy to bar leadership and pro bono advocacy, serving as the current president of the Criminal Defense Bar Association of the 28th Circuit, and on the board of the Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society (SWVLAS). Russell is president of the Virginia Mountain/Valley Lawyer’s Alliance, and a member of the Boyd- Graves Conference.
Together with other bar leaders in Southwest Virginia, Russell founded the new Patrick Henry American Inn of Court, and established the Southwest Virginia Law Foundation. Both the Inn and the Foundation bring together lawyers from Jonesville to Christiansburg to help with community service and outreach, through funding and organization of existing and new projects.
Though a relatively small bar in a geographically low population area, Bruce Russell has given the Russell County Bar Association an outsized reputation for community involvement, pro bono work, and enhancing the reputation of lawyers in the process. Russell, who has been a prosecutor, law professor, small firm attorney, and sole practitioner in his career, will receive his award on June 16 at the CLSBA breakfast at the VSB Annual Meeting in Virginia Beach.