Corporations in Virginia: Beware the Unauthorized Practice of Law

Even if you are the owner of a corporation, under the laws of Virginia, you do not have the authority to represent that entity in a court of law across the Commonwealth.

Corporations are considered separate entities from the owners.  By not hiring an attorney and showing up to a court date on behalf of the corporation, the owner runs the risk of the Judge ruling that the Corporation did not appear and possibly granting judgment against that entity.

Even worse, attempting to represent the corporation when the owner is not a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Virginia is considered a crime.

Virginia Code § 54.1-3904 states that, “Any person who practices law without being authorized or licensed shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.”

However, if the amount in controversy is small enough, there is an exception under Virginia Statute §16.1-81.1.

“When the amount in controversy in any action at law in a general district court does not exceed the sum of $2,500, exclusive of interest, attorney fees contracted for in the instrument, and costs, a corporate plaintiff or defendant, the stock of which is held by no more than five persons and is not publicly offered or planned to be publicly offered at the time of the litigation, may be represented by an officer of that corporation who shall have all the rights and privileges given an individual to represent, plead, and try a case without an attorney, provided that such officer has the unanimous consent of all the shareholders to do so.”

If you own a corporation and become involved in civil litigation in Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, or the surrounding jurisdictions, please contact the attorneys of Winslow & McCurry, PLLC at (804)423-1382 or email us at