Professional Guidelines

An agency of the Supreme Court of Virginia

The Virginia State Bar

Professional Guidelines

Unauthorized Practice Rule 1 - Practice Before Tribunals

Practice Before Tribunals.

UPR 1-101. Representation Before Tribunals.

  • (A)A non-lawyer, with or without compensation, shall not represent the interest of another before a tribunal, otherwise than in the presentation of facts, figures or factual conclusions, as distinguished from legal conclusions, except:
    • (1) A non-lawyer under the supervision of a lawyer who is a regular employee of a legal aid society approved by the Virginia State Bar in accordance with its rules and regulations adopted under Section 54.1-3916 of the Code of Virginia may represent an indigent patron of such society before such a tribunal when authorized to do so by the governing body of such society and when such representation is permitted by the rules of practice of such tribunal. The supervising attorney shall assume personal professional responsibility for any work undertaken by the non-lawyer.
    • (2) A law student may appear and represent others before such a tribunal in accordance with the third-year student practice rule.
  • (B) A non-lawyer regularly employed on a salary basis by a corporation appearing on behalf of his employer before a tribunal shall not engage in activities involving the examination of witnesses, the preparation and filing of briefs or pleadings or the presenting of legal conclusions.
  • (C) A non-lawyer regularly employed by a corporation or partnership may appear and file certain pleadings on behalf of his or her employer as authorized by Virginia Code § 16.1-88.03.
  • Unauthorized Practice Considerations.

    UPC 1-1. The term "tribunal" shall include, in addition to the courts and judicial officers of Virginia or of the United States of America, the State Corporation Commission of Virginia and its various divisions, the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission, and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, or any agency, authority, board, or commission when it determines the rights and obligations of parties to proceedings before it, as opposed to promulgating rules and regulations of general applicability. Such term does not include a tribunal established by virtue of the Constitution or laws of the United States, to the extent that the regulation of practice before such tribunal has been preempted by federal law, nor does it include a tribunal established under the Constitution or laws of Virginia before which the practice or appearance by a non-lawyer on behalf of another is authorized by statute.

    UPC 1-2. A non-lawyer may represent himself, but not the interest of another, before any tribunal. A non-lawyer regularly employed on a salary basis or one specially retained as an expert (whether as an independent contractor or an employee of another) may present facts, figures, or factual conclusions, as distinguished from legal conclusions, when such presentation does not involve the examination of witnesses or preparation of briefs or pleadings.

    UPC 1-3. A corporation (other than a duly registered law corporation) does not have the same right of appearance before a tribunal as an individual and may not be represented before a tribunal by its officers, employees or agents who are not duly authorized or licensed to practice law in Virginia. A corporation can be represented only by a lawyer before a tribunal, with respect to matters involving legal conclusions, examination of witnesses or preparation of briefs or pleadings.

    UPC 1-4. A lawyer who is duly authorized or licensed to practice law in Virginia and who is also regularly employed on a salary basis by a corporation may represent such corporation before a tribunal as lawyer for the corporation, with the same privileges of a lawyer in private practice (including confidential communications with his employer when he is acting as a lawyer in connection with such communication).

    UPC 1-5. A lawyer who is duly authorized or licensed to practice law in Virginia and who is regularly employed on a salary basis by a corporation may also represent before a tribunal the interest of a subsidiary or affiliated corporation when requested to do so by his employer and when not otherwise in conflict with the Virginia Code of Professional Responsibility. Such lawyer (unless a regular employee of a duly registered law corporation) in the course of his employment may not normally represent before a tribunal customers or patrons of his employer.

Updated: April 20, 2010