Why Do I Need An Appellate Attorney?

To be effective on appeal, an attorney needs to use different skills from those necessary for a successful trial.  Forming pretrial and trial strategies, gathering evidence, interviewing potential witnesses, cross-examining adverse witnesses, and making a passionate, often emotional, argument are key skills of the trial attorney.


On appeal, however, an attorney with strong writing, research, and logic skills can mean the difference between winning and losing.  Experience working with and appearing before appellate judges again and again also builds the judgment and wisdom necessary to evaluate what issues, if any, are likely to lead to success on appeal.


Moreover, an appeal is decided solely from what the trial attorney has already presented at trial.  An appellate attorney bringing fresh eyes to the case is able to limit his or her review of the case to only what was presented at trial, just as the appellate court will do.  The trial attorney who took the depositions, interviewed the witnesses, and investigated the case before trial can easily lose track of what the trial court heard on the record versus what the trial attorney knows really happened.
 

Finally, appellate attorneys typically have more intense experience with appellate litigation.  After all, this is what we do every day.  Even if a trial attorney handles every appeal in his or her cases, the vast majority of cases are not appealed.  Thus, a trial attorney will not have nearly as many opportunities to practice before the appellate courts as an appellate attorney who handles appeals for a number of trial attorneys.  Furthermore, an appeal is often a very involved and exhausting process.  Trial attorneys, with their busy and all too often overwhelming litigation schedule, may not have adequate time and energy to review the record, research and analyze the relevant law, and draft the appellate pleadings.


An appellate attorney brings to the table a different set of skills and experience than those that are central to a trial practice.  It is in the above ways an appellate attorney can alleviate the burden of handling appellate matters and help tip the balance in your favor.

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