When to hire an Appellate Lawyer
Appeals and Trial Support Services for Boca Raton, Palm Beach & Broward Counties
To consider whether an appellate attorney is needed for your case, let’s start by reiterating what an appellate attorney is and does. An appellate attorney handles appeals after there has been a trial in the lower court. These are attorneys who have made appellate law their practice. The higher court to which one can appeal a decision of a lower court (lower tribunal) is called the appellate court.
If you disagree with the decision of the lower tribunal, believe that the outcome received was in error, and there is a good faith basis, you have a possible appeal.
Or, you may have won in the lower tribunal and the other side is appealing. If this happens, it’s in your best interest to obtain an appellate attorney as soon as possible to make sure procedures are followed that enable you to have recourse (to defend the appeal). The appellate attorney can strategize how to best defeat the other side who is trying to appeal (potentially pressuring them to settle).
While all attorneys have some understanding of the appellate process, not all of them are highly skilled at interpreting black letter law from the original trial and developing the most effective appeal strategy. Nor are they necessarily familiar with the methods of dealing with appellate judges.
They also may not know all the time frames and deadlines involved, which can jeopardize the appeal. In most cases, there is great benefit to having an appellate attorney prepare and present appeals. Here we discuss this in more detail.
There are primarily two circumstances that dictate the hiring of an appellate attorney – when you want to ensure that you present the best possible appeal – and when you are facing a particularly challenging or complex trial.
Thinking from the Judges’ Perspective
A point to consider is, “Will the attorney handling the appeal have the ability to analyze legal issues from the appellate judges’ perspective?” This is a key appellate attorney trait that can greatly benefit your appeal. This is because the judges have to consider the long-term effects of their decision, and how it could change the future direction of a certain law. This looking forward at the potential effects of the appeal decision helps an appellate attorney decide the language and content of the appeal.
Because Quality Counts
Appellate judges appreciate appeals that are well prepared and delivered, incorporating pertinent information in the right way. This in and of itself is a skill that a strong appellate attorney possesses. An appellate brief filed by a well-known law firm or attorney isn’t necessarily high quality or useful. The brief is only as good as the skills and knowledge of the person who created it, and if that person does not have appellate experience, you’re risking the entire appeal outcome. Also, when an attorney has been deeply involved in a case for months or even years, they may lack the perspective and detachment that an appellate attorney will have. Your appellate attorney will bring a fresh perspective and create an appeal based on fact and law, not emotion.
Writing Is Everything
As you decide when to use an appellate attorney, you should examine the writing ability of the attorney or law firm handling the appeal. The most brilliant trial lawyer may not be a great writer. Outstanding writing skills are a must for preparing a good appeal. A truly well-written brief will please the judges. The appellate lawyer knows the exact points of law that apply.
Something Appealable Happens During Trial
During the trial, you would want an appellate attorney to consult with when there is an interlocutory (non final order) that you think should be appealed. The appellate attorney can evaluate if it is appealable, and give an estimate on the chances of winning on that appeal. (Or the appellate attorney helps defend the order if it is being challenged – this is the other side.)
Preserving the Record
Yet another factor in deciding if you need an appellate attorney is this: Having an appellate lawyer involved at the pre-trial motions, during the trial itself, and at post-trial motions will ensure that the appropriate issues for appeal are properly preserved. This is a proactive way to help your case should the trial decision not go in your favor. (This is also true should you find yourself defending against an appeal).
Hiring an appellate attorney is especially helpful when your case is complex (or the trial was complex), because the appellate attorney will review every element of the litigation with a fine tooth comb, possibly finding things the client or their trial attorney missed. The appellate attorney has the ability to identify, early on, the key factors that would be pertinent in an appeal.
It’s Just Good Business
From a business perspective, it makes good sense for a non-appellate attorney to obtain an appellate attorney. It saves you time, which you can better spend on your own area of focus – and on new clients. And it increases your chances of winning a case – or of reversing a bad decision.
Law is based on previous case law (you need to know all applicable cases – appellate attorneys perform the research that identifies correct precedents and persuasive law from other jurisdictions)
The appellate attorney can research and draft motions and pleadings to assist trial attorneys with difficult questions of law.
An appellate attorney like Robin Bresky not only helps create or defend appeals, but also provides trial support services such as researching, drafting pleadings and motions, prepping expert witnesses, reviewing documents, and recommending strategy. When you need overall guidance on black letter law, it’s a good time to bring in a skilled appellate lawyer.
The Law Offices of Robin Bresky is a dedicated appellate law firm handling civil and criminal court appeals in all District Courts of Appeal – primarily the Fourth District Court of Appeals. The firm also provides effective trial and litigation support. The firm serves Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, Coral Springs, Parkland, Margate, Lauderhill, Fort Lauderdale, Deerfield Beach, Broward County, Palm Beach County,
and the trial courts and lower tribunals within the jurisdiction of the 4th District Court of Appeals.
7777 Glades Road, Suite 205
Boca Raton, FL 33434
477 S. Rosemary Avenue, Suite 202
West Palm Beach, FL 33401