What an Appellate Attorney Does and Why You Need to Retain One

Appeals process

If you’re facing a legal issue, knowing what kind of legal counsel to retain is important. Just as there are several different kinds of doctors, there are many different kinds of law practitioners and attorneys. Knowing what kind of legal professional to work with is critical to the success of your case.

This is especially true when it comes to appeals, which are much different than standard legal or trial cases. Appellate courts evaluate the decisions made by lower court judges or juries and have the power to uphold or reverse a previous verdict. The appeals process goes beyond asking a judge or jury to determine innocence or guilt, and involves a number of complexities that are best handled by appellate attorneys.

While all licensed lawyers have the legal ability to file a motion for an appeal and have the case revisited in an appeals court, not all lawyers will personally handle appeals. This is where appellate attorneys come into play. Because appeals are so research intensive and require a different skillset than trial cases, lawyers who file a motion for an appeal on behalf of their clients will then work with an appellate attorney throughout the appeals process.

If you or your legal counsel wants to file a motion for an appeal, retaining an appellate attorney is must. A verdict cannot be challenged simply because you don’t agree with the outcome and hope the appeals court will decide differently. In order for an appeals court to even entertain an appeal, an appellate attorney must present grounds for appeal or a legal reason why the previous verdict made by the lower court should be challenged. An appellate attorney has the experience and skills necessary to establish these grounds and persuade the appeals court to review the case.

Compared to standard legal trials, appeals rely heavily on written legal briefs. In fact, many appeals are decided based on the persuasiveness of these written briefs as the appellate attorney may not even have the opportunity to physically present their findings in some cases. Although some appellate courts will hear oral arguments for very complex cases, most make their final decision based on the written briefs provided by the appellate attorney.

An appeals attorney can be thought of as a last chance or “Hail Mary” of sorts, which is why retaining one is so important. Their experience and intimate knowledge of the law can help to convince an appeals court to rule in your favor.

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