Appellate lawyers focus on appeals. Appeals are not trials. Trial lawyers get hired to win cases at trial; appellate lawyers get hired to win cases on appeal and to help trial lawyers make the best record on appeal. Here’s why.
Appellate lawyers know the appellate system. We know when to file, where to file, and how to file. We know the unwritten rules of the appellate courts. Will argument be granted? Can we get an extension? Is the court more likely to follow the Restatement rule or the rule adopted in Connecticut?
Appellate lawyers bring an appellate perspective to cases. A trial lawyer may have lived with a case for years, developing the case sequentially from start to finish: pleadings, discovery, motions, and trial. Appellate lawyers looks over the whole record in the reverse direction. Like the appellate court, we start fresh with the ruling and looks backwards to find support for the affirming the ruling, or to identify where the judge erred so the ruling can be reversed. We know how to sift through a large record to find the needle in the haystack — the procedural quirk that can win the appeal or the spot in the trial where the opponent waived a crucial issue.
Appellate lawyers know how to present appellate arguments. We know how to narrow the issues on appeal and focus on the two or three issues most likely to grab the attention of appellate judges. We know how to craft briefs and oral arguments that persuade appellate judges. We know how to keep good judgments and how to flip bad rulings. That involves art and science, and explains why many of the most successful trial lawyers associate with us to help them and their clients on appeal.
Appellate lawyers work with trial lawyers. We know how to work collaboratively with trial lawyers to help shape their clients’ cases for appeal.