Who is a Lawyer?

A lawyer, also called an attorney, is someone who is licensed to practice law.  Only a lawyer licensed to practice law in Virginia can provide you legal advice about a legal issue in Virginia.

How do I find a lawyer?

The Virginia State Bar, the organization that licenses attorneys, offers information for the public, as well as a Lawyer Referral Service, through which you may consult an attorney for a limited time at a reduced fee.  The toll-free telephone number is 1-800-552-7977.  The Lawyer Referral video explains more, and other public information videos can be found on the Virginia State Bar's YouTube channel.

Some county bar associations also offer lawyer referral services that can be found through an internet search, your local court or your local law library.

How do I find a free lawyer?

Low-income persons may be eligible for legal assistance in civil matters through their local legal aid office.  Visit http://www.valegalaid.org/ for more information or you can call 1-866-LEGLAID (1-866-534-5243) to reach your local legal aid office.

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia helps people with disabilities obtain services and treatment for disability-related problems like abuse, neglect, and discrimination.  Individuals with problems covered by the Center's Program Goals, may receive advocacy services and/or legal representation.  Visit http://dlcv.org/ or call 804-225-2042 or 800-552-3962 for more information.

In November 2016, the Virginia State Bar Special Committee on Access to Legal Services sponsored a free public information webinar titled What to Do When You Can’t Afford an Attorney (there is no charge to access the recording; however, you must register before you can view it).  A copy of the slides for this webinar is available at the Virginia State Bar's website.

The Virginia State Bar's Access Committtee also offers a guide to Free and Low Cost Legal Resources in Virginia.

In criminal cases, persons charged with criminal offenses that carry jail time may be eligible for a public defender or court appointed lawyer, if they cannot afford a lawyer.

Who else can help me?

Other people may give you information, but ONLY a lawyer licensed in Virginia can give you legal advice, file documents for you, or represent you in court.

Court Staff

Your local court must be neutral and impartial.  Court staff cannot give you advice, but they can give you legal information, such as instructions about procedure, and forms.  Learn more about what courts can and cannot do.

Mediators

People often find a mediator to be very helpful in resolving their matter, but a mediator is a neutral person, often a non-lawyer, and cannot give you legal advice.  Only a lawyer licensed to practice law in Virginia can give you legal advice.  It is entirely appropriate to get some legal advice from an attorney while working with a mediator.  Visit our Find a Mediator page to learn more.

Notarios

Notarios are not lawyers, cannot give you legal advice, and cannot represent you in court.  See the Virginia State Bar for more information about notarios and immigration fraud.

Friends

Friends who are not lawyers cannot give you legal advice.  Friends cannot represent you in court.  Friends can give you moral support and may be a good source of professional referrals, but they are not allowed to help you in the courtroom.

REMEMBER: Only a lawyer can represent you in court.

Table of Contents

  1. Find Your Court
  2. Find a Mediator
  3. Find a Case
  4. Find a Form

Find Your Court

How do I find the right court?

Step 1.  What kind of case do you have?

  • Custody, support, domestic violence, paternity determination, juvenile traffic infraction, as well as other family and juvenile matters, are heard in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (click for full list of case types and other general information)

  • Adult traffic infractions, landlord - tenant matters, non-family abuse protective orders, misdemeanors and money cases up to $25,000 are heard in the General District Court (click for full list of case types and other general information)

  • Divorce, probate, guardianship and conservatorship, felonies and other matters, are heard in the Circuit Court (click for full list of case types and other general information)

Step 2.  Which court has jurisdiction? (for example, the power to decide the case because one of the parties lives there; a traffic stop occured there; an apartment was rented there, etc.)

  • If you are unsure of the name of the city or county where the court is located, but know generally where it is, this map showing how Virginia's cities and counties are divided into Judicial Circuits and Districts may be helpful: http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/maps/home.html.

Step 3. Select your court and then by location with the drop-down.

​          OR

Individual locations for each court can be accessed via a drop-down tool under each type of court http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/home.html.

 

Find a Mediator

Mediation

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process in which a trained neutral mediator facilitates communication between the parties and, without deciding the issues or imposing a solution on the parties, enables them to understand and reach a mutually agreeable resolution to their dispute.  It helps the parties understand and recognize their underlying needs, overlapping interests and areas of agreement.

In Virginia using a mediation process is voluntary.  The mediation process is confidential and used in many proceedings.

The court offers a variety of dispute resolution services, some of which may be available at no cost.  The court hosts a general directory of private providers, as well as a link to the Virginia Association for Community Conflict Resolution.  Also, be sure to check with your local court or local law library.

 

Find a Case

Information about cases in the General District Court and the Circuit Court is available online by selecting an individual court location.  There is no statewide search option for these courts in Virginia.  To protect confidentiality, no case information is available online for cases in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Visit our Find a Court page to learn more about which types of cases are heard where.

Circuit Court On-Line Case Search

General District Court On-Line Case Search

 

Find a Form

Where can I find court approved forms?

The Virginia Judicial System has a number of forms for each court available on the court's form page.  You can also access forms by entering the form number or a keyword in the search box on the court's form page, which is located in the upper right hand corner of each page above the navigation column.

Are there other forms?

Yes, you may find forms through your local court or legal services program.  There is no guarantee that forms from sources other than the court will be accepted by the court.  However, if they are provided by a reputable source, it is more likely they will be accepted.  Ultimately, the judge has the final say of whether a form is accepted.