Hey Smart Fros! It has just occurred to me that I have never shared the type of law I practice.
For me, there was only two types of law I was interested in, criminal law or sports/entertainment law.
However, my contract classes were never my best subjects and criminal law came easy. For this reason, I was pretty positive that I wanted to start my legal career in criminal law.
Never in a million years did I think I would be practicing appellate law. Actually, I didn’t even know what appellate law was until I accepted my job.
Fast forward almost two years, I have found a love for appellate work.
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So what is Appellate Law?
The appellate process typically is invoked when the losing party, in either a civil or criminal case, appeals the trial court’s final judgment in an appellate/intermediate court or, if necessary the Supreme Court.
If the appellate attorney is successful, it may result in an appellate court either overturning the final judgment, granting a new trial, or remanding the case back to the trial court to fix any errors.
Role of An Appellate Attorney
The role an appellate attorney is to catch mistakes and errors that may have occurred on the trial level by reviewing the trial transcript.
The goal is to successfully argue meritious claims in a brief to an appellate/ intermediate court.
The entire process involves a ton of reading and writing. In addition, appellate attorneys need to have sharp legal research skills.
Another major role of an appellate attorney is oral arguments. Oral arguments are at the discretion of the appellate court.
However, when granted, an appellate attorney must be prepared to argue in front of judges. This means an appellate attorney must be able to articulate their argument and answer any questions the judges may pose.
Benefits of Appellate Work
Create New Law
One great benefit of doing appellate work is the opportunity to create new law. You truly have a chance to be a part of history or at least get your name on LexisNexis or Westlaw.
Skilled Writer & Researcher
The only way to become a better writer is to consistently work on it.
Appellate briefs can take weeks and sometimes months to work on.
It requires you to be able to find cases to support your argument and successfully communicate your argument on paper.
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No Crazy Work Hours
This line of work is perfect for those who want to work 8 to 5.
Obviously, if your job requires you do other duties then this may not apply.
However, if you are strictly an appellate attorney you can typically finish your workload within a 40 hour work week.
If you are an individual who does not want to be a litigator than appellate work is perfect.
Typically, requests for oral arguments are denied.
Furthermore, rarely will a court request oral arguments when they are not requested. Don’t know if you should choose between trial work or appellate work?
Check out this blog post from abovethelaw.com
The lovely thing about appellate work is it typically comes with other duties. One major duty of mines is post-conviction writs.
This is the part of the job, for me, that allows me to work and develop my client interview skills.
It also allows me to investigate claims which may require me to look at crime scene photos and other documentation I may not be privy too.
The one good thing about getting into appellate work is that I know have skill in my bag that I can use long after I retire.
While I do not see me solely doing appellate work as I do now for the rest of my legal career, I am very glad to have this skill.
Do you practice a different type of law and want to share your experience?
Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org