Orientation to the Virginia Judicial System

Pre-requisite: Mediation Skills and Process preferred

This course is essential for mediators who practice in Virginia, as it gives an overview of the Virginia judicial system and court-referred mediation programs. Topics include the structure of civil and criminal court systems, the nature of due process, the role of court personnel, and consideration of mediation as an appropriate ADR process. Interactive exercises engage participants and reinforce the material.


Learning Objectives

  • Develop familiarity with Virginia’s court system
  • Develop the ability to pinpoint where the clients are in the litigation process
  • Develop a level of knowledge about the court system, court support personnel, court referral programs and case stages that will give confidence to your clients
  • Develop an awareness of the issue of Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) and several essential principles of UPL for mediators
  • Develop an understanding of the statutory role mediation plays in the court system scheme for alternative dispute resolution
  • Develop the ability to recognize red flag issues, ask the right questions, and be ready to deal with them


Course Agenda

  1. Overview of Virginia’s Court System
    • Due process
    • The Virginia court structure
    • Criminal and civil court proceedings
    • Role of court personnel
    • Life of a court referred case
  2. Overview of unauthorized practice of law
  3. Mediation and the Virginia court system
  4. Applying your judicial system knowledge


About the Instructor

James Q. Pope, MSW, JD

Jim Pope is an attorney, Supreme Court of Virginia certified mentor mediator, and consultant in conflict management and other subjects related to workplace conflict, employee relations, civil disputes, child support and divorce, and special education. Pope is currently an Adjunct Professor of Mediation and Arbitration at the Catholic University Columbus School of Law and an Adjunct Professor of Mediation at George Mason University School of Law, and has been a guest lecturer at George Washington University School of Law, Georgetown University School of Law, and Howard University School of Law. Pope conducted US Department of State sponsored mediation trainings for the governments of Israel and Palestine and mediated and conducted conflict management, mediation, and negotiation trainings for numerous public and private agencies and organizations, including the U.S. Postal Service, the USDA., the Department of the Navy, NOAA, NASA, NEA, FAA, US Air Force, US Forest Service, the World Bank, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Arkansas Supreme Court, IRS, United States Postal Service, DEA, National Archives, Virginia Supreme Court, Virginia Mediation Network, and Northern Virginia Mediation Service. Pope currently serves as an administrative hearing officer for the Virginia Supreme Court, in which capacity Pope reviews and rules upon state employee grievances related to terminations and disciplinary actions. Pope is a former member of the Executive Board of the District of Columbia chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution (formerly the Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution – DC SPIDR). Pope holds a Doctorate of Jurisprudence (JD) from George Washington University Law School, a Master Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a Bachelor of Arts from University of Virginia.