An oxymoron is an inherently contradictory phrase, like jumbo shrimp, acting naturally, and legal brief. One thing attorneys are not is brief. Though we don’t get paid by the word, we often write as if we do. Why? To protect everyone in every legal matter. That is why we bravely put our names down as attorneys of record. So, just what is an attorney of record?
Any Virginian is welcome to appear in any Virginia court as her or his own attorney. It is often a huge mistake, but nothing in the law prevents Virginians from making such a huge mistake. If you stand up in court to represent yourself, congratulations: you are now an attorney of record, also known as a counsel of record. The definition of an attorney of record is simple:
Attorney of Record refers to a lawyer who has appeared in court or signed pleadings on behalf of a party to a suit. The Attorney of record is the person entitled to receive on the party’s behalf all pleadings and documents from the court as well as other parties. He or She is responsible for the representation of the party in court, even when other attorneys make representations for that party.
You are far better off hiring an attorney who knows her or his way around the Code of Virginia rather than step into the noose … er … courtroom … .yourself. Your attorney becomes your attorney of record if you pay for her or his representation, just like in “Breaking Bad.”
Don’t get us wrong; we prefer our clients not to stuff a dollar bill in our pockets to gain attorney-client privilege. We would rather sign agreements and set up retainers, but once we are your attorney, we agree to represent you in pleadings and court appearances as your attorney of record.
At Your Pleasure
Your family law attorney serves at your pleasure. Any agreement between a client and attorney will also allow for ending the agreement in a reasonable manner. Attorneys serve at a client’s pleasure, and that relationship (along with being the attorney of record) can be ended at the client’s say-so, for the most part at least.
Family law attorneys can provide wise counsel to their clients. We can advise on best strategies, how to handle conflicts, and how to negotiate favorable terms. An attorney of record cannot accept or make offers without the client’s knowledge.
The attorney of record may also work with other attorneys representing aspects of a case, but only the attorney of record will sign off on and receive pleadings and other papers from either the court or the opposing party, as described in Code of Virginia § 8.01-271.1, quoted here with our added emphasis:
… every pleading, motion, or other paper of a party represented by an attorney shall be signed by at least one attorney of record who is an active member in good standing of the Virginia State Bar in his individual name, and the attorney’s address shall be stated on the first pleading filed by that attorney in the action. A party who is not represented by an attorney, including a person confined in a state or local correctional facility proceeding pro se, shall sign his pleading, motion, or other paper and state his address. The signature of a person other than counsel of record who is an active member in good standing of the Virginia State Bar or a pro se litigant is not a valid signature.
You may notice that any number of attorneys can sign off on pleadings and motions, but none of their signatures are valid if they are not the counsel of record.
To remove an attorney of record after your case has been filed with Virginia’s courts, you cannot simply ask your attorney to withdraw. A withdrawal order must be signed by:
- Your attorney of record
- The opposing counsel
- The opposing party (usually your spouse in family law matters)
- The judge
The withdrawal order must then be entered with the court, after which your original attorney of record is off your case. So, while a path does exist to switch attorneys, it is not an overnight process.
It’s Your Move … Make It a Smart One
You can choose to go it alone in any Virginia family law matter. You can also choose your own attorney. The smartest Virginia men wisely place their trust in experienced family law attorneys, and hire them to become their attorneys of record.
Every family law matter is personal and carries huge stakes:
- Your personal financial future and stability
- Your relationships with family members
- Your future happiness and quality of life
When you enlist a lawyer who is both an active member of the Virginia State Bar and an experienced family law attorney, you give yourself the strongest possible ally in your legal matter. As soon as your lawyer stands in court, or signs off on pleadings and motions on your behalf, you have the safety and security of an attorney of record.
You can select many family law attorneys in Virginia, but you will find none to equal the experience and professionalism of The Firm For Men. We specialize in protecting the rights and financial futures of Virginia’s men in all aspects of family law. Let us be your attorneys of record. Contact us today or call our Virginia Beach office at (757) 383-9184.