Referring Your Client to an Appeals Lawyer

lawyer and client sitting at table with gavel and scales of justice - referring client to an appeals attorney concept

If a mistake of law was made at trial, and the outcome of the case was not what you and your client expected, you might discuss filing an appeal. However, as an attorney who focuses on trial work, you may not have the time necessary to devote to the long appellate process — or background in that area. Appellate law is a highly specialized niche and there can be many benefits to referring your client to an appeals lawyer, rather than trying to handle the matter yourself.

The issue of whether a trial attorney should hand their case over to an appeals attorney is one that is frequently debated. While a client might want to keep the same attorney to represent the client on appeal, this may not always be in the client’s best interests. The qualities that make a good trial lawyer vary considerably from those that make a good appeal lawyer.

Here are the critical reasons why you should consider referring your client to an appeals lawyer:

Appellate Work is Very Different from Trial Work

No matter how accomplished you may be as a trial attorney, it is important to realize that the process for appeals is distinct. An appeal must be prepared very differently from how the case was prepared to be heard by a judge or jury. In addition, appellate work requires a different type of oral advocacy — rather than appealing to the emotions of a jury, an appellate attorney must streamline highly technical concepts and argue complex legal issues in a limited amount of space and time. When you refer your client to an appeals lawyer, you are ensuring their case will be handled by counsel who is proficient in appellate work and knows what’s important to the appellate court.

An Appellate Lawyer Can View the Case More Objectively

After spending months — or even years — working on a case, it can be easy for a trial attorney to lose objectivity and have “tunnel vision.” Since new testimony and evidence cannot be presented on appeal, it can be helpful to work with someone who can evaluate the trial record with a fresh perspective. While factual issues are often at the forefront during a trial, legal and procedural issues are those that dominate on appeal. An appellate attorney can present the case on appeal in the way the appellate judges are likely to view it.

An Appellate Lawyer Knows What the Appellate Court Will Focus On

Appellate advocacy is an art form and skill that requires years of practice to hone. An experienced appellate lawyer will know what the appellate court will focus on and how to develop an effective argument. Unlike at the trial level, where there are multiple opportunities for a lawyer to make an argument, an appellate lawyer only has one or two chances — in the written brief and, sometimes, during oral argument. With a deep understanding of what the appellate process entails, an appellate lawyer will know how to effectively navigate the appellate framework..

An Appellate Lawyer Will Know How to Build a Solid Case for Appeal

Appealing a case can seem daunting. Not only does it involve reviewing an extensive trial record and presenting the strongest possible argument in a concise manner, it requires conducting nuanced research. By referring your client to an appeals lawyer, you can rest assured that their case will be in the hands of counsel who know how to craft a written brief in the client’s favor and present a persuasive oral argument. In addition, an appellate lawyer will be thoroughly familiar with the rules, regulations, and deadlines applicable at the appellate level — you can avoid pitfalls that could result in delay or outright rejection of your client’s appeal.

An Appellate Lawyer Can Work Alongside Your Trial Team

An appellate lawyer can be brought in to assist at any time - often much sooner than when trial has concluded. Appellate counsel can work with the attorneys on your trial team to ensure your client is in the best position should an appeal be necessary. An appellate lawyer can assist a trial attorney with identifying issues that are most likely to be raised on appeal and help to preserve the record.

Contact an Experienced Appellate Lawyer

If the outcome of your client’s case was not favorable at the trial level, consider referring your client to an appeals lawyer. A knowledgeable appellate lawyer can guide your client through the appeals process and maximize the chance of securing a positive result. The appellate attorneys at Hegge & Confusione, LLC know how to skillfully prepare a case for appeal and present effective arguments before appellate judges. Contact us today to learn how we can assist you and your client.