Increased lobbying efforts for such projects as an intermediate state appeals court are among the top priorities of the Virginia Bar Association, the group's new president said.

John L. (Jay) Walker Jr. of Roanoke, who became president Saturday, said the bar association has backed an intermediate appellate court as a means to ease the burden on the State Supreme Court and cut time involved in legal appeals.

"The problem is not the courts. The problem is the huge growth in numbers of cases and the case load is such that they cannot move any faster," Walker said in an interview.

"We've got to do something about the horrble time lag involving the present appellate process. The time lag is now over two years from the time of the final judgment at the trial court level to the ultimate resolution by our Supreme Court."

But the group is not likely to get anywhere with the appellate court proposal this year. Legislative leaders during the short session are trying to balance the state budget and in his state of the Commonwealth address, Robb supported the idea but said the time may not be right economically.

The bar association has about 4,000 members and represents about one-fourth of the state's practicing lawyers. It is separate from the Virginia State Bar, which is an administrative arm of the Virginia Supreme Court.