If you lost your civil case at trial, there is a good chance that you will want to file an appeal. Civil cases typically settle, and if your case went to trial, this most likely means that there were real, significant issues that you (and your attorney) expected the court to resolve in your favor. But, things didn't go as planned, and now you need to prepare for the next stage of the judicial process.
When filing an appeal, there are many instances in which it will make sense to hire a new attorney. In 5 Reasons to Hire a New Lawyer for Your Civil Appeal, we highlighted several of the most common factors that can counsel in favor of hiring new appellate representation. However, there are reasons to consider retaining your existing representation as well. These reasons include the following:
When Should You Retain Your Trial Attorney for Your Civil Appeal?
1. The Factual Background is Complicated.
The decision whether to appeal needs to be made relatively quickly, and it is not a decision to be taken lightly. If the factual background of your case is complicated, it could take a new appellate lawyer a significant amount of time to get up to speed. Think about how much time your trial attorney has spent working on your case. How long will it take a new lawyer to gain the same level of familiarity with the events, parties and circumstances involved?
2. The Legal Issues Are Complex.
If your case involves a complex or novel legal issue, it may make sense to stick with your trial representation. For example, maritime, construction, corporate and employment law are all highly-technical areas in which not all appellate lawyers will have the background necessary to quickly get up to speed on the issues involved in your case. If your trial attorney is familiar with the substantive legal issues and has the requisite knowledge of appellate law and procedure, it may not be necessary to seek new representation for your appeal.
3. Your Trial Lawyer has Extensive Appellate Experience.
Not all lawyers have experience in both trial and appellate practice. If your trial lawyer has never handled an appeal, there is a good chance that you will be better off with an experienced appellate attorney. However, if your trial lawyer also has extensive appellate experience, it could be a smart and cost-effective decision to stick with your current representation.
4. The Grounds for Appeal Are Limited to Judicial Errors.
There are only a limited number of grounds to file a civil appeal, some of which involve asserting that your attorney made mistakes during trial. If you need to challenge the effectiveness of your trial representation, you will certainly want to retain a new lawyer for your appeal. However, if the grounds for appeal are limited to judicial errors, your trial lawyer - who has first-hand knowledge of what happened - may be the best attorney to handle your appeal.
5. Your Trial Lawyer is Willing to Devote His or Her Time to Your Appeal.
Finally, it is important to inquire about your trial attorney's case load. Is he or she willing to devote the time necessary to effectively handle your appeal? Some attorneys prefer trial practice over appellate practice, so you will want to make sure that your case will continue to receive the attention it deserves.
Speak with an Appellate Attorney at Michael L. Feinstein, P.A.
The Fort Lauderdale appellate attorneys at Michael L. Feinstein, P.A. have broad experience representing clients in civil trials and appeals in both state and federal court. If you would like to discuss your appeal with an experienced attorney, please contact us online or call our Fort Lauderdale law offices at (954) 767-9662 to schedule a consultation today.