Appellate litigation is not merely a continuation of trial court proceedings, but is a specialized area of legal practice, requiring particular skills and knowledge. Most significantly, appellate proceedings rely primarily on written briefs, which means that an appellate brief-writer should have superior writing skills.
An appellate brief will be reviewed by appellate justices with more time and more research attorneys than a superior court judge generally has available, and according to standards and presumptions quite different than those applied in the trial court. That being so, preparation of an appellate brief requires viewing the issues through a broader – and yet more rigorous – lens than was used below, with a consequent need for additional legal research and analysis. As one Court of Appeal observed, the practitioner who simply “takes trial level points and authorities and, without reconsideration or additional research, merely shovels them in to an appellate brief, is producing a substandard product.” (In re Marriage of Shaban (2001) 88 Cal. App. 4th 398, 410.)
In addition to being accomplished writers, appellate attorneys must also possess a savvy – honed by experience and familiarity with appellate court practice – about which rulings warrant appellate review as being both erroneous and prejudicial, and which ones do not. This skill is important whether the attorney is representing an appellant or a respondent.
See In re Marriage of Shaban, supra, 88 Cal.App.4th at pp. 408-410 for a fuller discussion of the distinction between appellate and trial court attorney skills.
Mr. Ellis possesses, and still continues to refine, the knowledge, savvy, and writing skills necessary to effectively litigate in the appellate arena. He loves working with clients – appellant or respondent – to obtain a positive outcome in the reviewing court and, in pursuit of that result, truly enjoys preparing a clear and persuasive written product which best tells his client’s story.
Read more about our work in appellate courts »