Don’t Hire a Trial Lawyer to Handle your Appeal

by | Jan 14, 2021 | Appeals

It’s not easy to accept a judgment when you lose a case. Sometimes there are valid reasons to want to appeal the decision. When you are thinking about appealing a ruling, consider whom you will have representing you. Should you stick with your trial lawyer, or is it better to get an appellate lawyer to handle your appeal?

Trial lawyers are undoubtedly good at negotiation. They have great interpersonal skills, are master storytellers, and excellent cross examiners. Having been involved in the case from the start helps them understand the bigger picture. Plus, they are intimately familiar with the case’s details, including their clients’ and opponents’ strengths and weaknesses. But, despite these advantages, they are not the best people to pursue an appeal. Here’s why:

A Fresh Perspective

Trial lawyers can run the risk of having a tunnel vision that prevents them from pursuing a case from a different angle or exploring other theories. Some of the facts and details discussed during the trial may be irrelevant in the appellate court. It’s no wonder appellate judges often complain that trial lawyers end up rearguing facts turned down during the trial.

With their impartial perspective, appellate lawyers can bring a fresh set of eyes to an issue. They do not have preconceived notions or past experiences with the case, allowing them to spot overlooked problems. The client also gets an objective assessment of the merits of an appeal.

Trial Versus Appellate Lawyer Skills

Appellate litigation requires strong analytical skills. Appellate attorneys sieve through trial records, however voluminous, to look for appellate issues. When evaluating an appeal, the most crucial consideration is to understand the standard of review. Since an appellate court shows great deference to a trial court’s decision, understanding the standard of reviews will greatly influence success. Some legal issues are reviewed de novo, meaning from the beginning. In such cases, the appellate court takes a fresh look, without deference to the trial court’s decision.

Also, appellate attorneys are experts at writing appellate briefs. Writing an excellent appellate brief is the key to winning an appeal. Arguments must be conveyed crisply and concisely, and you can’t afford to use the wrong wording. The arguments must be strong enough to stand through the appellate jurist’s and opposing attorney’s laser-sharp focus.

Litigation and appeals title on a book and gavel.