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3 Things to Consider When Choosing an Appellate Attorney

You have gone through a grueling trial and unfortunately, you did not get the result you were hoping for. Thankfully, the legal system has other avenues you may be able to use to get justice. 

Appeals can be requested when there are grounds to believe the court made a mistake when ruling on your case. However, appeals and trials are quite different, so having an attorney who understands the appeal process is crucial. 

An appellate attorney should be trained to investigate and assess your case from the perspective of an appellate court to increase your chances of success on appeal. It can often be helpful to have an attorney view your case with a fresh set of eyes. When working on an appeal your attorney must carefully understand the ins and outs of your case to find any areas where there may be grounds to overturn the trial verdict. 

What might have seemed suitable for the trial phase of your case, may not work or even be detrimental for your appeal. An appellate attorney will need to write thorough in depth briefs, prepare motions, and preserve legal issues and evidence that may be necessary on appeal.

Brief Writing Capabilities

Appellate judges often consider the appellate brief to be the most important part of presenting your case on appeal. Writing an effective appellate brief will require a lot of preparation, time, and review. Your appellate attorney will likely work on several drafts. A skilled appellate attorney will not only write a compelling brief, but also will provide a balanced assessment regarding the appealable issues.

To meet the goal of compelling the court, a brief should accomplish to two things: 

1. Highlight information present at trial that the court may not have considered thoroughly

2. Persuade the appellate court 

When hiring an appellate attorney be should to inquire about their writing style and advocacy techniques. The ability to write clearly and concisely, or lack thereof, can make or break your chance of appeal early on.

Procedure Familiarity

It is essential that any attorney you may consider when filing your appeal is knowledgeable of the rules of appellate procedure. Your best chance of success is hiring an attorney who understands the foundation, context, and language of appellate procedure in your district. Unfortunately, in most cases, there are very strict guidelines regarding timing of your filings and service, content that must be in your presentation to the court and content that cannot be in your court presentation as well as oral argument structure standards.  Additionally, an appellate court will only consider arguments that were brought to the trial court’s attention. So your attorney must carefully review prior evidence during your case preparation. 

The appellate court will use a very particular set of standards or review of your case to determine whether the trial court committed an error that justifies reversal. Deviations from the rules, even something as minor like page length, font size, or margins, can derail an otherwise worthy appeal. 

Hiring an appellate attorney who has a history for paying attention to details and thorough research is crucial to ensuring your case is grounded before it takes off. 

Persuasive Orator 

Oral arguments are another essential part of the appeal process. Appellate attorneys typically have less than 20 minutes to condense a complicated case and area of law into a core few points.  

Utilizing an appellate attorney who has presented oral arguments before is the best thing you can do for your case. An attorney who is familiar with the appellate judges in your district may be able to tailor arguments in a manner that will be most compelling to the judges assigned to your case.  Additionally, that attorney will be able to research similar opinions rendered by those same judges and compare/contrast them to your situation. 

The goal is to hire an appellate attorney who has argued so frequently in front of the panel of judges that their argument comes off as second nature and conversational while still driving home your key issues. 

Appellate litigation is a complicated area of litigation. It demands a level of experience, understanding, and familiarity that is much different from trial work. Hiring an attorney with years of experience working on appeal is vital to get your unfavorable verdict overturned. 

What Should You Do Next?

If you are interested in learning more or speaking with an attorney at Capital Partners Law, there are plenty of ways to get in touch:

This article is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader nor should it be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact our firm.