CHARLESTON – Nearly 60 business and legal leaders participated in the first of two forums examining the future of West Virginia's legal and judicial reform efforts.

The West Virginia Legal and Court Reform Forums have been organized by the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce to coordinate and plan activities related to future legal and court reform efforts in the state.

At the first forum held Dec. 1 at the Marriott Charleston Town Center, speakers provided an overview of successes and advances that have been made in the areas of medical malpractice reforms, Workers' Compensation reform, civil justice reforms and insurance reforms.

"Over the past several years, steady progress has been made on a number of 'legal-related' problems in our state," said Steve Roberts, president of the state chamber. "Much of this was due to the collaboration provided by key stakeholder groups – including the health care and medical industry, the legal community, the business community and the insurance industry.

"It was important to remember that when interested groups stand together, offer solutions and provide leadership, much can be accomplished."

Another topic was the state's circuit courts. Several circuit judges are expected to retire in the coming years. The governor determines who will fill judicial vacancies.

"We should work now to identify candidates for possible judicial vacancies," Roberts said.

The forums are part of the state chamber's efforts to pursue legal and judicial reforms. The second forum is scheduled for Dec. 13 at the Marriott Charleston Town Center.

Comments and suggestions from the forums will be used in the state chamber's 2006 policy activities and will be incorporated into its 2006-2008 strategic plan.

To register for the Dec. 13 forum that is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., e-mail Matthew Gallagher at mgallagher@wvchamber.com. There is no cost to attend.

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