How Can an Appellate Attorney Help Me?
To understand how an appellate attorney can be helpful to you, you must first know what an appellate lawyer is. Black’s Law Dictionary defines appellate jurisdiction as “jurisdiction to revise or correct the proceedings in a cause already instituted and acted upon” by a lower court or similar body. An appellate attorney is a lawyer who handles cases within the appellate jurisdiction of a court. These cases are designed to ensure correct legal results in the court system. Appellate attorneys frame issues and arguments to higher courts to persuade them to either uphold a lower court’s decision or to overturn it.
Appellate courts in the United States do not start from scratch. Instead, they focus on specific issues within each case and whether or not the lower court made an error that should be reversed.
If you find yourself in the position of needing to appeal a civil case decision or to defend yourself in an appeal, you can find your appellate attorney at Hendrickson & Long. We have decades of experience in framing legal issues and successfully arguing in state and federal appellate courts in West Virginia (WV) and Pennsylvania (PA).
Why Experience Matters
The justice system that we work within is complex. Issues are first brought to a court through a trial. Then, if there are complex issues of law that the parties disagree about, those questions can be brought to appeal. The questions that arise in an appeal require a different lens than that applied during a trial.
An appellate attorney has specialized experience that allows him or her to filter through the often voluminous and complex record of the trial court and identify issues that are appropriate for appeal. The attorneys at Hendrickson & Long have both the experience of taking cases through trial, as well as successfully following those cases through appeal. It is this experience that makes Hendrickson & Long the right choice to handle your appeal whether or not we represented you in trial court.
What Makes An Appellate Attorney Different?
Appellate attorneys have honed special skills that are different from attorneys who focus on trial court representation. This is not to say that an appellate attorney does not handle other types of cases but instead that other types of attorneys likely do not have concrete experience with the intricacies of an appeal.
Trials focus on the facts of the incident at issue and apply the law specifically to those facts. An appeal, on the other hand, focuses on the law that applies to the case, and whether that law has been properly applied.
Appellate attorneys often graduated at the top of their class and have experience early in their careers as law clerks to appeal court judges—their education started early at focusing on the law and how it should be interpreted. This focus, combined with hands-on experience, means that appellate attorneys are more familiar with the way that the appeals courts and their staff operate. This gives them a distinct advantage in handling appeals.
What Skills Make A Good Appellate Attorney Stand Out?
All successful attorneys are good with words. The successful appellate attorney has taken that skill to a higher level and is good at articulating the argument and the law of the case effectively both in writing and orally. Since the appeal is focused on the law that applies to the case, the successful appellate attorney is skilled at showing how that law should have been applied.
Where a trial attorney focuses on facts—the persuasive story of what occurred and how it affects the human element—an appellate attorney looks through those facts to the law behind the case to show an error was (or was not) made in the trial court. And unlike a trial attorney, whose job is to ask questions of witnesses and figure out what happened, an appellate attorney’s job is to paint a compelling picture of the correct way to apply the law.
Many Hendrickson & Long attorneys have received awards and recognition for both ethical and professional excellence. Here are a few examples:
- Recognition of the firm as a Tier 1 Law Firm by U.S. News and World Report for the past several years
- Ratings of several Hendrickson & Long attorneys as top-rated Super Lawyers, an honor reserved for only five percent of lawyers nationwide
- Ratings of several attorneys in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Law Firms directory
- Recognition by com of many of our attorneys for high professional achievement or excellence on Martindale.com
Hendrickson & Long’s appellate attorneys have demonstrated successful experience handling appeals from both state and federal trials and for both plaintiffs and defendants. Our law office, located in Charleston, WV, also handles appeals in PA courts. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.