Williams Kastner is well known for its record of successful trial court advocacy on behalf of physicians, hospitals, other health care providers, major manufacturers and businesses of all types. Our firm’s team of skilled appellate lawyers handles both in-house appeals and appeals referred by lawyers outside the firm, as well as clients seeking experienced appellate lawyers to preserve favorable verdicts or overturn adverse rulings.
Contrary to a commonly held view that any lawyer can handle an appeal, appellate practice requires a detailed knowledge of the special procedural rules and deadlines on appeal. Appellate brief writing and oral advocacy skills are distinct from the trial skills needed in other areas of legal practice. Lawyers inexperienced in appellate matters can cost a client thousands of unnecessary dollars or even lose a meritorious appeal due to procedural pitfalls or inability to recognize and present the critical issues from an appellate perspective.
Trials typically take place in front of juries, who decide which witnesses are believable and which parties acted professionally, reasonably or in the manner required by contract or law. Appeals call upon the advocate to make intellectual legal arguments to judges based on the established written trial record and according to fixed or developing rules of law.
Williams Kastner believes that the handling of appeals by lawyers experienced in the procedures and practice of appellate advocacy makes good sense. It provides a fresh and objective look at the case — the same type of look that the appellate court takes on review. It is often difficult for trial attorneys to detach themselves from the confrontational aspects of trial practice in order to take an objective, clinical look at the record. The ability to be objective about the record allows the appellate lawyer to focus on the issues and arguments most likely to persuade an appellate court. It is not uncommon for trial lawyers to dwell on issues that may have been important at the trial level, but that will not be persuasive in the appellate court because of the appellate court’s significantly different focus. Appellate lawyers can process an appeal more efficiently and economically because of their familiarity with the specialized appellate rules.
Williams Kastner has a diverse and experienced group of lawyers whose practice emphasizes appellate experience. Our lawyers advise and consult with trial lawyers in preparation for, and trial of, cases involving novel or major issues that are likely to be reviewed by appellate courts. For example, they assist trial counsel in preparing jury instructions in order to properly frame issues for eventual appeal, and in making and preserving a proper record for appellate review. The Appellate Team of Williams Kastner also reviews cases, at the request of trial counsel or a client, to evaluate the prospects of successfully prosecuting or defending an appeal.