Top 15 Tips to Build an Appellate Practice - Brownstone Law

15 Best Tips to Build an Appellate Practice

There are several challenges associated with building an appellate practice. Until you are established, it’s unlikely that clients will begin to seek you out. This article will offer essential information on how to build an appellate practice while handling all the challenges of the process. Whether you have been practicing for years or are a new law graduate, these tips to build an appellate practice will help.

1. Work on a Pro Bono Basis

When you are considering how to build an appellate practice, keep in mind that it will take hard work. All the tips below can be done in different orders based on what phase of the process you are in. However, one of the top ways to get started is by taking on a pro bono appeal.

You can often find the option to work on an appeal through a legal clinic, a public defender office, or a juvenile representation office. While there are all sorts of ways to prepare yourself for this sort of work, at some point, you need to jump in and try it.

2. Involve Yourself in Organizations

Learning is an integral part of the process of building an appellate practice. The ABA and state bar associations both have appellate practice sessions with important information. In addition, you can choose to go to conferences, take part in continuing legal education, or engage in other events related to appellate practice.

By putting yourself out there and becoming involved, you’ll also have the chance to broaden your network. In addition, you can get to know others in appellate p

ractice and use them as a point of referral in the future.

Top 15 Tips to Build an Appellate Practice - Brownstone Law

3. Offer to Help Other Attorneys

If you are part of a firm and know an attorney currently working on an appeal, you can offer to help them. This might not put you at the head of the table on a case, but it will give you essential practice. In addition, you can learn more about how to build an appellate practice by being around someone who has already succeeded at that.

When you help others, you might have the chance to brainstorm questions and answers for oral arguments, draft appellate motions, or proofread briefs. You’ll also likely get an opportunity to research specific legal issues that will be useful to you in the future.

4. Watch Oral Arguments

One of the best things you should know is that observing oral arguments is easier than you might think. Appellate courthouses are open to the public so you can go in and watch the process when carried out by experts. All you need to do is find a case you find interesting and go in to learn more.

Make notes while you watch and gain more insight into the process. If you don’t have extra time to stop in for live oral arguments, there are other options. Some courts will post video or audio of oral arguments. Visit a few of their websites to find arguments you can view from the comfort of your own home.

5. Create an Amicus Brief

If you heed tip number two on this list, you’ve already started to be involved with organizations. A second part of how to build an appellate practice hinges on that. One of the ways you can be helpful while learning at the same time is by offering to write an amicus brief.

Choose a federal or state appeal that the organization will have some interest in. Then, when you step in and create this kind of brief, you have the chance to network with people who could be future clients. You’ll also get the opportunity to work on your expertise with legal writing.

6. Think About a Clerkship

While many people believe clerkships are only for those straight out of law school, that isn’t true. A clerkship can be just as useful for someone who has been practicing. In addition, taking an appellate clerkship can be a vast source of experience and knowledge.

While working as a clerk, you get to experience the appellate practice firsthand. In addition, you’ll work on your research and writing skills. Finally, a clerkship can provide the chance to get to know and observe the best appellate attorneys in your location.

7. Search for a Mentor

To answer the question of how to build an appellate practice, consider finding a mentor. Choose someone who has experience that you can gain insight from. Depending on your location, there may be a mentoring program through your local or state bar association.

If you decide to take advantage of a program, it typically involves pairing a younger lawyer with someone seasoned and experienced with appellate practice. It could include being paired with a judge. You can also choose an attorney you are inspired by and create a relationship with them.

8. Keep Track of Blogs

Even if you have a mentor, are in organizations, and keep up with other forms of media, don’t forget blogs. You want to be sure you are up to date on developments in appellate law. It’s essential to keep learning and be abreast of new happenings at all times.

Some of the most valuable sites include HowAppealing and SCOTUSblog, but there are plenty of others. Do a quick search and find the blogs that you enjoy reading the most. You will likely come across a blog based on the appellate decisions made in your state, too.

9. Present Programs

If the bar for your state doesn’t have a practice section, set up your own appellate program. The initiative can set you apart from others while you impress the bar and your appellate courts. However, if there’s already a section for appellate, volunteer to present some of the programs.

This is an excellent way to build a reputation and develop your expertise while you choose a topic to present, research it thoroughly, and then share it with others interested in the subject. Another option is to present a program for in-house lawyers, which could strengthen your profile with specific clients. Finally, speaking in public is an excellent way to be seen as an expert in the field.

10. Hone Your Skills

When it comes to how to build an appellate practice, you have to be a great writer. This takes talent, but it also requires effort and practice. Seeking out writing seminars can give you a better grasp on good habits and habits you should avoid. However, keep in mind that legal writing has been changing. Often, briefs are found in electronic format so you need to know how to write for devices.

In addition, moot courts are an excellent option for getting better at argument skills. Even listening to other attorneys talk about the way they go through preparations for oral arguments can help you build skills. Keep working on the things you haven’t yet mastered.

11. Always Do Your Best Work

One way to enhance your reputation is by winning appeals. However, a lot of hard work has to be done to start doing that. Drafting briefs and then asking for input from others can be a great way to keep improving. Be open to criticism to find out what you might need help with and then put effort into improving.

The briefs should be considered as seriously as the oral argument. This takes time so you’ll need to be sure you open your schedule for revisions, checking citations, and doing final proofreading. Sloppy briefing should be avoided because judges will notice.

12. Make Waves in Your Firm

Becoming a top person at your firm is also part of how to build an appellate practice. You can become known as a great lawyer and worker in stages. Those who are at a firm should communicate with trial lawyers about their desire to get involved in appellate practice. Learn all the rules and make sure others are aware you have the answers.

You can also make yourself a source of written help, as well. For example, many trial lawyers love to work with an appellate lawyer in some phases of a case. When you establish a relationship with them and show you can be trusted, you might be asked to take on appeals.

13. Publish Articles and Information

Publishing articles about appellate information is essential since it will go out to a vast audience. In addition, there are many places to distribute the things you write. For example, you can create pieces about appellate issues in magazines, newsletters, books, or the Internet.

The idea is to show how much you have to offer as an appellate attorney.

14. Update Your Website

If you don’t have a website, you need one. Assuming you already have one, make sure it’s in perfect shape. A great bio is a must. This should be updated regularly with your memberships, honors, and other activities. Make sure you show off your specialty to the extent the bar allows.

Add links to writing you did on appellate-related issues. If clients agree, include briefs for essential cases. In addition, you should display descriptive information that ties together to show you are an appellate expert.

15. Find a Way Onto the News

The last tip for how to build an appellate practice involves reaching higher. Sharing briefs with a reporter is an option. When you start winning huge appeals, making comments is also acceptable to do. If you manage to get your photo and name in a local paper, this can also strengthen your reputation. Internet or legal publications are also helpful.

Wrapping Up

When you incorporate the above tips into your drive to become an appellate expert, you’ll start to work your way up the ranks. Remember that even small changes can have huge benefits when you work smartly. So whether you’re starting and learning in moot court or have tons of experience and want to move toward a specialty, these tips to build an appellate practice will help you reach the top.

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