Key Points in Finding a Representative

  1. It is not mandatory to have an attorney or other representative before the Court. However, please be mindful that the Secretary will defend the decision of the Board and will be represented by an experienced attorney.
  2. Appellants who choose to proceed without a representative are referred to as "self-represented" or "pro se," a Latin term meaning, "for yourself."
  3. The Court will not appoint an attorney or other representative to represent you.
  4. The Court has a list of attorneys and other representatives who have been admitted to practice before the Court and have expressed an interest in representing appellants. The listed attorneys meet the basic requirements for inclusion on the Court's list. The list of attorneys who have been admitted to the Court's bar does not constitute an endorsement by the Court of any specific attorney. Appellants should evaluate attorneys through any of a variety of methods including speaking with the attorney and seeking references from trusted sources.
  5. Many practitioners will represent clients without charge, but some charge a fee. Some others will only collect a fee if the appellant wins the case before the Court or if the client collects benefits on remand to VA.
  6. The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program is a private nonprofit organization that locates and trains lawyers who will represent some appellants before the Court free of charge.
  7. Any attorney that you choose should be familiar with veterans law.
  8. Even if you decide not to hire an attorney, it will be helpful to consult with one or a veterans service organization. Please visit our Helpful Links page for a list of these organizations.
  9. There are limits set by the VA on what fees an attorney can charge, so the attorney must file a copy of the fee agreement with the Court.
  10. A Federal law called the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) permits an appellant, in some instances, to ask the government to pay his or her attorney fees and expenses. You will be awarded attorney fees only if you are represented by an attorney and if you "prevail" in your claim. Your attorney is responsible for filing the EAJA claim with the Court. An EAJA award does not reduce or otherwise affect the money that you might receive from VA. This money is not part of your VA benefits, nor is it intended to be compensation for you. It represents payment to the attorney for the work that he or she did on your appeal. In addition, a pro se appellant who prevails may sometimes receive an EAJA award for certain expenses such as photocopying and mailing.