Appellate Counsel and Your Client
March 2008

Let’s face it, the last decision a party wants to face after receiving an adverse verdict is whether to spend even more money hiring a new law firm to pursue an appeal. Likewise, as the respondent to an appeal, keeping trial counsel on as appellate counsel is certainly the path of least resistance. After all, they won the first time around, didn’t they?

Despite these and other misgivings, however, hiring separate appellate counsel, even before facing an adverse verdict, can yield significant benefits for everyone involved.

Appellate counsel brings a fresh and objective perspective

Contrary to popular belief, an appeal is not a second bite at the apple. Neither a party nor its counsel should view an appeal as an opportunity to reargue their case in front of a different set of judges. Appellate counsel views a case in the same manner as an appellate judge—through the narrow window of the appellate record and subject to the constraints of appellate standards of review. In this sense, quality appellate counsel speaks the appellate court’s language in a way that is difficult for trial counsel to emulate. As a result, quality appellate counsel is skilled in limiting briefing to key winnable issues, without succumbing to the temptation of simply presenting the appellate court with a laundry list of trial court errors.

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