News and Information
January 16, 2018

Comments Sought on Proposed LEO Concerning Duty of Court-Appointed Lawyers and Parental Rights

The Virginia State Bar’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics is seeking public comment on proposed advisory Legal Ethics Opinion 1889 – Scope of representation – Duty of court-appointed lawyer to appeal termination of parental rights order.

This proposed opinion addresses whether a court-appointed lawyer has duty to appeal or continue representing a parent when that parent’s parental rights have been terminated by a Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court if the attorney has lost contact with the parent, the parent has not directed the attorney to appeal the matter, and the parent fails to appear in court or otherwise participate with the attorney in the course of the representation.

In this proposed opinion, the committee concluded that although the parent/client may have a right to court-appointed counsel and a right to appeal, the parent must communicate with the lawyer in order to exercise that right.  The lawyer cannot exercise that right without the client’s knowledge and consent.

The proposed advisory opinion may be inspected at the office of the Virginia State Bar, 1111 East Main Street, Suite 700, Richmond, Virginia 23219-0026, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Copies of the proposed advisory opinion can be obtained from the offices of the Virginia State Bar by contacting the Office of Ethics Counsel at 804-775-0557, or can be found at the Virginia State Bar’s website at

Any individual, business, or other entity may file or submit written comments in support of or in opposition to the proposed opinion with Karen A. Gould, Executive Director of the Virginia State Bar, not later than February 16, 2018. Comments may be submitted via email to

Updated: Jan 16, 2018