It happened. You went through a year or more of litigation, your lawyer presented your case at trial, and...you lost. For plaintiffs and defendants in all types of civil cases, having the judge or jury rule against you is a deflating experience, particularly if you were expecting a favorable outcome.
But, it's time to move on, and if you believe that the outcome of your trial was unjust, this likely means filling an appeal. Should you stick with your trial attorney? Or, should you hire a new lawyer to represent you during the appellate process?
Considerations for Choosing Your Appellate Representation
The following are five strong reasons to hire a new lawyer - specifically, an appellate lawyer - for your civil appeal:
1. Appeals are Not Like Trials
First, pursuing an appeal is very different from taking a case to trial. Appeals involve different processes and procedures, and they require an entirely different skillset. At trial, you are collecting evidence, questioning witnesses, building a record and seeking to prevail on the merits of your claim or defense. On appeal, you are arguing that errors during the trial process justify a second chance.
2. Many Trial Lawyers Do Not Handle Appeals
As a result of the differing nature of trials and appeals, many lawyers focus exclusively on trial or appellate practice. If your case would be your trial lawyer's first appeal (or if your trial lawyer only occasionally handles clients' appeals), there is a strong chance that you will be better off with a more experienced appellate attorney.
3. Your Appeal May Involve Questioning Your Trial Representation
As we mentioned above, during your appeal you will be asserting that errors during trial resulted in an unjust outcome. This may include errors committed by your trial attorney. Even if your trial lawyer is willing to admit that he or she made a mistake, your trial lawyer certainly will not be able to represent you in arguing that his or her own mistakes justify a reversal or retrial.
4. An Appellate Lawyer Will Offer a New Perspective On Your Case
Even setting aside the issues of having specific knowledge of appellate practice and arguing that your trial counsel was ineffective, hiring an appellate lawyer will provide a fresh perspective on your case. All lawyers have their own mindsets and tendencies, and after spending months and months focused on a specific set of arguments, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. An appellate lawyer taking a fresh look at your case may be able to spot new issues to argue on appeal.
5. You Might Need to Appeal Again
Finally, when you appeal a trial verdict, in the vast majority of circumstances you are appealing to an intermediate court. If you lose your appeal (or if you win and the opposing party appeals), your case could go to another level of appellate review. At this stage, it will be critical to have an attorney who is intimately knowledgeable about the appellate process and who has an extensive record of appellate experience.
Does It Ever Make Sense to Retain Your Trial Lawyer for Your Appeal?
In some cases, however, it can make sense to stick with your trial representation. In a follow-up article, we will discuss five reasons to retain your trial lawyer for your appeal.
Contact an Appellate Attorney at Michael L. Feinstein, P.A.
The Fort Lauderdale appellate attorneys at Michael L. Feinstein, P.A. represent clients in all levels of state and federal appeals. If you are considering an appeal and would like to discuss your case with an appellate attorney, please call our offices at (954) 767-9662 or send us a message online to schedule a consultation today.