When you’ve just a lost a lawsuit and you’re convinced that the trial court made the wrong decision, your first instinct may be to ask your trial attorney to immediately file an appeal.
Wait. You need to consider an appellate attorney instead.
Why? Because there are some big differences between trials and appeals and it is easy to make some serious mistakes. Here are three reasons an appellate lawyer may be the better option:
1. You need a fresh perspective
Your trial attorney knows your case inside and out, but the issues on appeal are different than the issues at a trial. An appeal doesn’t give you a second chance at trying the case. An appeal has to focus on mistakes made in the rulings and look for ways to reverse the court’s decision. Your trial attorney may have developed a bit of tunnel vision — and you need someone who has the emotional distance to look past the injustices done at trial and concentrate on the issues that will prompt a reversal.
2. Appeals rely more on written skills than oration
A trial lawyer has to be a good orator. His or her ability to convince a jury relies on it. By contrast, an appeal is almost entirely based on written material. The oral argument in any appeal is distressingly brief if you’re counting on it to sway the court. Every attorney has unique strengths and your trial attorney may or may not be able to craft the detailed written analysis of the law that needs to be presented to the appellate court.
3. You need realistic information and advice.
Trial attorneys don’t often handle appeals, so they are often unaware of the odds that you face going into an appeal. An appellate attorney can help you better understand your odds of success — and your alternative options. Sometimes, a loss at trial can be mitigated by moving onto alternative dispute resolution, while simultaneously preparing an appeal. The other side may be willing to negotiate to avoid a potential reversal — especially if you are conscious of your odds and willing to compromise.