Trial Lawyers College is pleased to announce the creation of a new service to help alums identify issues for appeal, prepare the record and represent their clients on appeal. A team of Warriors who practice in the state and federal courts, in civil and criminal cases, is now available to assist you in continuing your connection and service to your client -- and in improving the state of the law for all -- during appeal.

When a Warrior has built a connection to a client over weeks, months or years in the trial court, but hires a contractor for the appeal, the risk arises that the contractor won’t bring TLC methods to the appeal. The risk arises that a contractor cannot understand, and thus will not help the appellate court understand, the story that the Warrior discovered. A contractor may not appreciate the urgency of the legal issues presented, and may not invest in the opportunity to change the law for the better.

This happens when a Warrior assumes, “I’m not a good writer,” or “I’ve never handled an appeal, I wouldn’t know where to begin,” or “I like to talk to juries – I can’t talk to judges!” The assumptions are self-defeating. We can all become better writers. And if we can tackle these challenging cases at the court below, then we have the capacity to learn appellate rules and fight for our clients on appeal. As for “I can’t talk to judges”? If we can’t, we better learn how. As Gerry has long taught, judges are human, and it’s on us to reverse roles to discover what the man or woman in the black robe needs to hear.

And, as Gerry has also long taught, you are enough. The Warrior who loves her client really can beat the bloodless opposing counsel; can obtain unlikely results on appeal, just as at trial; and can change the law for the better. The appellate process can indeed feel intimidating, but the TLC Appellate Support Team is now here to help alums meet those challenges.

 

The Appellate Support Team does not handle appeals for Warriors; nor do its members write briefs for Warriors. But the Team can give alums coaching and guidance in handling their own appeals. The types of support the Team can provide include:

  • Identification of appellate issues. In the court below, you may encounter disputes that you realize in real-time will threaten the outcome of the case. The Appellate Support Team can help you identify where those disputes fit into the law, and get you on the right research track – so that when the dispute comes to a head before the trial judge, you understand the legal and evidentiary standard for the relief you are requesting.
  • Consultation in preserving error, and making your record, in the court below. This includes helping you identify the motions and supporting evidence that an appellate court will require in order to review those issues (instead of finding that the record is insufficient to support even reviewing the alleged error). Whether you are facing a motion for summary judgment, bringing (or defending against) a motion for new trial, litigating a major suppression motion or preparing for Daubert scrutiny, the Appellate Support Team can help you develop your plan so that the issue is properly preserved and supported. Similarly, if you filed your case knowing you would have to change the law (i.e., have a statute declared unconstitutional, or overturn decisional precedent), we can help you develop that plan as well. 
  • Familiarization with the rules of appellate procedure. If you have never handled your own appeals, the rules and procedures of your appellate court may seem daunting at first blush. We’ll help you walk through the procedural steps to get your appeal docketed (or to know what to do when your opposing counsel dockets appeal), and learn what communications you need to make with the appellate court and its staff.
  • Brief preparation. The Appellate Support Team will not write your brief for you. But we can:
    • Help you identify what pleadings, motions, orders and evidence must be included in your record for appeal;
    • Provide form briefs to use as a model (and put you in touch with Andy Delaney, who administers the TLC Alumni Brief Bank);
    • Review your draft brief and provide editing suggestions – to help tell your client’s story in the TLC method, and to identify where more legal analysis and/or decisional authority will help support your request for relief.
  • Preparation for oral argument. We can help you build the structure of your appellate argument, identify the questions and challenges you’re likely to get from the court, and think through your responses.

 

Collectively, the members of the Appellate Support Team have handled nearly 200 appeals. Appellate work does not have to be tedious – we know how TLC methods can bring humanity to a seemingly dry legal issue. We want to help alums serve their clients, and improve the law, in the appellate courts.

 

If you foresee an appeal in your client’s civil or criminal case, you can reach out to any member of the Appellate Support Team for coaching and guidance:

 

You can become an appellate Warrior. Your client’s story can be told by the Warrior who knows it best. You can grow professionally, adding a new arrow to your TLC quiver as you learn how to use TLC methods on appeal. And, you can be part of changing the law for the better.

 

Yes, you! You are enough … and the Appellate Support Team will help you prove that to yourself.