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Pointers On Writing An Appeal

2 min

The task of drafting an appeal can seem sometimes be challenging to attorneys. The secret might be in keeping it simple and not over thinking an issue. Here are a few pointers to those looking to kick-start their own appellate practice.

1. Filing Requirements: 

An appeal in every court and the documents needed are a little different and paying attention to these differences will make a difference. Before you begin your appeal's substantive work, make sure you know the appellate procedures of your court, for example, the time in which you have to file the appeal, the contents of your appeal, and even the format and length of your documents. You want to make sure you are following the appellate rules to the T. 

2. A Solid Game Plan: 

Even though your appeal may have merit, that can quickly be lost in the fray if you go about your appeal without a game plan. So make sure you nail down these important factors: 

(a) Scope—go through the lower court’s opinion in detail and focus on exactly what the Court held and then go after that holding. You want to make sure you are not challenging part of the lower court’s opinion that turns out to be just dicta;

(b) Standard—after focusing on the lower court’s potential error, research that matter and find out if the appellate court’s review of that matter is de novo or abuse of discretion. This will aid your analysis by tailoring your argument specifically to why the lower court abused its discretion or made an erroneous legal application.

(c) Stance—now you know how the appellate court is going to review your appeal, what is the stance of your appeal? In other words, what are you asking the appellate court to do: reverse the lower court based on an error in applying existing law, or do you want to expand the law in a new direction? Make sure you know your purpose. 

3. The Little Things: 

Finally do not forget the little things when writing an appeal. Be respectful to the lower court. Even if the lower court made potential monumental errors in your case, do not disrespect the Court. (Remember, appellate judges will show respect to the lower court regardless of their errors, so show the same respect.) Second, make sure you cover every conceivable area of your argument in your initial brief. Most of the times every court will ignore a new argument that you raise in a reply brief or at oral argument. So just like making a game plan above, make sure you strategize to foresee potential counter-arguments and other issues that may come up based on your appellate argument. Beginning to write an appeal can be a challenging and exciting. Most appellate attorneys tend to enjoy the challenge and build very successful careers around appellate work.  

At Nora.Legal, we understand. Our legal staff is highly trained in drafting of appeals, pleadings, briefs, dispositive motions, discovery, contracts, and jury questionnaires. Nora.Legal is here to listen to your requirements and help you bring the right people on board, and we’re great at it! You can learn more about our services at Nora.LegalTry out a project with us today!

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