Virginia Code requires that a business retain an attorney to litigate a matter, whether it is criminal or civil, in a Virginia General District Court or Virginia Circuit Court. Virginia Code § 16.1-88.03 provides:
Nothing in this section shall allow a nonlawyer to file a bill of particulars or grounds of defense or to argue motions, issue a subpoena, rule to show cause, or capias; file or interrogate at debtor interrogatories; or to file, issue or argue any other paper, pleading or proceeding not set forth in subsection A.
While the statute provides for some nuance, the bottom line is that an attorney is required to do anything other than the most basic of filings.
This can present a variety of obstacles to a business. First, cost may be an issue for a low dollar amount claim, where the potential judgment may be equal to or less than the attorney fees. Second, a business that is sued may be forced to retain an attorney on short notice with little time for assessing potential attorneys. Third, a business that is not initially represented by an attorney may make missteps that are difficult to recover from later in the course of litigation.
With these potential concerns in mind, a business should consult with attorneys and develop a solid working relationship prior to the onset of litigation. Meaning, find a good attorney who works for your business now, whether you think you may need an attorney or not. If you need a consultation for your Virginia business representation needs, contact our office to arrange for a consultation.