Yes, Virginia, You Can Use Electronic Signatures on Pleadings

It’s Christmas come early in Virginia this year. As of July 1, 2024, attorneys in Virginia can officially (and permanently!) use electronic signatures to sign pleadings in Virginia’s state courts. It only took twenty-plus years of e-filing in federal courts and a global pandemic to get us here, but we have finally arrived.

The change came about in Virginia Code § 8.01-271.1 And while you wouldn’t be wrong for wondering, “wait, isn’t that the one about sanctions?” this code provision also addresses signatures and what representations you are making to the court when you sign a pleading. Always a good one to review every now and then, but this year, the General Assembly added the following language to § 8.01-271(A): “The signature required by this section may be an electronic signature as defined in § 59.1-480 or a digital image of a signature.”

Most of us could stop right there and live a happy lawyer life, knowing we can use a “digital image of a signature” and just scan, save, copy, and paste a well-practiced, beautifully inked signature for all future filings. It’s that simple.

But what about Virginia Code § 59.1-480?  Well, that’s where this gets really fun. Virginia Code § 59.1-480(8) is a portion of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act that defines an “electronic signature” as “an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.”

That’s right. It seems you can now sign your pleadings with a sound. Or a “symbol.” What symbol would you choose? Which sound could you adopt? The possibilities are endless. Get creative! Or don’t. And just paste that digital image of your signature on your next filing and call it a day.

If you have any questions about this post or other litigation issues, please contact Laura Maughan at