Appearance Law and Legal Definition

In legal terms, appearance refers to the act of a party or an attorney showing up in court. Once an attorney files a notice of appearance or representation or actually appears, indicating that he or she represents the person the lawyer may make an appearance for the client on some matters without the client being present. An attorney makes a "special appearance" when he/she is appearing only for the purpose of what is before the court that day-such as arraignment of one charged with a crime. If an attorney makes a "general appearance" he or she is telling the court that the client is definitely his or hers and the court can proceed. In the future that attorney will be required to represent the client. Some appearances are voluntary, but most are compulsory and are made by notice to the party or, if represented, to his/her attorney. Rules relating to the formalities of an appearance are governed according to rules in states, federal courts, local court procedures, and according to the desires of particular judges.