Frequently Asked Questions: Why Appeal a Case?

I won in the trial court. Why should I worry about appeal?

Because everything you've fought for—the years of discovery battles, motion practice, and careful witness preparation—can be lost if your opponent highlights even a single error that warrants reversal.

In preparing for and trying a case, parties and their counsel sometimes forget the power of appeal. It can completely reverse the case you fought so hard to win. With an effective appellate lawyer, your opponent can amplify mistakes that seemed trivial in the trial court yet may now upset the entire case.

You need an effective appellate lawyer on your side who knows how to:

  • Counter your opponent's arguments
  • Explain why they don't merit reversal
  • Persuade the appellate court that your victory is just

By pursuing an appeal with an appellate attorney, you can end up preserving the time, money, and effort you spent on winning the case in the first place. It's the key to preserving trial success.

I already lost in the trial court. Why should I appeal?

Because a persuasive appellate argument can correct the decision below and turn the case in your favor again.

The trial court's or jury's decision is not the end of the road. In many cases, it's incorrect or unfair, based on misleading jury instructions, improper evidence, or overlooked case law.

Even an indefensible decision will stand, however, unless the losing party appeals and retains an effective appellate advocate to explain, in plain English, how trial errors undermined the process and caused an unjust result.

The effective appellate advocate can regain tremendous leverage for the losing party by threatening to overturn the entire case. Simply initiating the appeal and filing a compelling brief can renew settlement discussions with the opposing party and lead to results thought impossible after an unfavorable result.

Why specialized appellate counsel?

Why not just continue with trial counsel on appeal? Because appeals are different than trials.

How are appellate cases different?

  • Appeals require experience in presenting cases to appellate judges, not juries.
  • Appeals require a firm that knows which issues to present and not to present, and how to present them.
  • Appeals require a lawyer who can see the case's larger picture.

The appellate specialist can provide the client with a fresh perspective on the case, clarifying the issues that matter to appellate courts.

Trial counsel who are not experienced with the appellate process can have difficulty objectively assessing an appeal's merits. Where they've won at trial, these counsel tend to trivialize appellate issues the adversary has raised that, in fact, may be significant. Where they've lost at trial, these counsel contest too many trial rulings, disregarding that most rulings, even if incorrect, had little impact on the outcome and are unlikely to obtain appellate relief. Filing a scattershot brief that fails to focus on the one or two issues that usually impacted the result does not give the client the best chance of winning on appeal.

A word of caution when utilizing your trial counsel for an appeal —

Permitting your trial counsel to continue representing you or your company on appeal—without input from experienced appellate counsel—can be a costly mistake. The ineffective appellate advocate can squander your one chance of overturning an unjust result.

And where you've won at trial, the ineffective advocate can forfeit your victory. Everything you or your company fought so hard to win can be lost if your opponent highlights just a single error that persuades the appellate court to reverse the case.

To discuss your case, contact us.