Virginia Chapter
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Originally published by Hollins University on January 26, 2023.

(Left to right) Jay Garcia ’26; Lisa Sales, president of the Virginia Chapter of NOW; and Elizabeth Barker ’26.

Hollins University students Elizabeth Barker ’26 and Jay Garcia ’26 visited the State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia, for the launch of the Virginia Law Audit Project (VLAP) by the Virginia Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

VLAP is a crowd-sourced, nonpartisan, statewide initiative in which state statutes, administrative code, and the Virginia Constitution are reviewed. The mission is to identify all forms of discrimination (racial, gender, age, religious, disability, housing, employment, etc.) and propose legislative amendments to further equity in the language and substance of the law. This spring, Virginia’s NOW chapter will partner with students, law schools, nonprofits, and law firms across the commonwealth to develop and recommend these statutory updates.

Assistant Professor of Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies Courtney Chenette, who is part of VLAP’s development and legal research coordinating team, is teaching courses this spring at Hollins that will collaboratively support the project.

“I’m committed to equipping our students to make immediate contributions to law and government,” she explained. “VLAP is an experiential learning opportunity for students to apply their legal research skills beyond the classroom as scholars, practitioners, and changemakers.”

Barker and Garcia were both in the Fall Term 2022 first-year seminar and January 2023 Short Term course “Trial and Error,” which Chenette teaches in conjunction with Roanoke City Circuit Court Judge David Carson. The class introduces students to substantive areas of law and the procedures of trial advocacy and includes sessions at the Roanoke City Courthouse.

This spring, Chenette’s classes and pre-law and advocacy students will review code sections based on NOW’s research criteria.

“I’m very excited to offer the opportunity for Hollins students to use their academic research skills to modernize the commonwealth’s laws and advance gender equity,” she said.

In addition to Hollins, the University of Virginia School of Law; George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, Gender and Policy Center; the League of Women Voters; and the American Association of University Women are among the institutions and organizations to date that are championing VLAP.