Question about appellate attorneys

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Anonymous User
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Question about appellate attorneys

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:54 am

How does one get into an appellate practice group? Can it be done without a really prestigious clerkship? Also, would it sound naive to express interest in a firm's appellate practice group when interviewing with them as a law student?

270910
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Re: Question about appellate attorneys

Postby 270910 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:59 am

Many of the best appellate litigation boutiques don't hire summer associates. A prestigious federal appellate clerkship, based on browsing attorney bios, is a de facto requirement. CoA clerking is one of the most difficult things to do out of law school.

After that, I know some appellate practice groups expect associates to do "regular" lit first - which makes sense, since I'm sure the knowledge you gain from involvement in that practice translates.

This link has some great information: http://www.chambers-associate.com/Pract ... ries/42586

Personally, I don't think bringing up an interest in appellate law is naive so long as 1) you have credentials that won't make you look naive and 2) you don't ask in a way that will make you sound naive. "Can I work in your appellate group over the summer?" is probably riskier than "I see you have a strong appellate practice - while that interests me, I'd imagine it's not really open to summers or new associates. Can you tell me how people usually progress to working for the appellate practice group at Name and Ampersand, LLP?"

awesomepossum
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Re: Question about appellate attorneys

Postby awesomepossum » Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:02 am

In large firms, that's usually just the litigation department. Some firms will note that they have appellate experience, but conduct that work as part of their usual litigation.

You litigate at the trial level --> win --> the other party appeals

You litigate at the trial level --> lose --> you appeal


Alternatively:

Somebody else litigates --> screws up and pisses off the client--> you pick up the work and appeal

It's not clear to me that there are a lot of groups out there that exclusively just do appellate work at the big firm level. There appear to be boutiques that have that sort of practice though.

270910
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Re: Question about appellate attorneys

Postby 270910 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:04 am

awesomepossum wrote:It's not clear to me that there are a lot of groups out there that exclusively just do appellate work at the big firm level. There appear to be boutiques that have that sort of practice though.


There are definitely some, and they're definitely good at what they do. The chambers article notes that
More firms are recognizing the value of having dedicated appellate groups, as opposed to combining them with general litigation practices.

awesomepossum
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Re: Question about appellate attorneys

Postby awesomepossum » Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:06 am

definitely? :wink:

BeautifulSW
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Re: Question about appellate attorneys

Postby BeautifulSW » Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:07 am

You might also find it helpful to publish an article or two while in law school.

Anonymous User
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Re: Question about appellate attorneys

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:14 am

From browsing the profiles of attorneys who do appellate litigation at large law firms, it seems that a circuit court clerkship is almost mandatory to do appellate litigation as an associate. I asked career services if it's OK to ask firms about their appellate litigation practice during interviews, and I was told it's OK to do so as long as you actually have the credentials (i.e. grades for a circuit court clerkship). If your grades are median and you bring up appellate litigation, you'll probably just be laughed at.

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ugchicago
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Re: Question about appellate attorneys

Postby ugchicago » Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:21 am

Another way would be to work in the appellate division of a DA's office. I don't know if they are all structured this way, but I know the Denver DA has a group of lawyers that strictly do appellate work.

That being said, even there I think you probably need some experience doing trial work before you get the call up to the majors...

d34d9823
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Re: Question about appellate attorneys

Postby d34d9823 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 10:23 am

One additional route I noticed browsing firm profiles is achieving a high rank in JAG. I have no clue why this would translate to appellate practice...

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bwv812
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Re: Question about appellate attorneys

Postby bwv812 » Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:38 am

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Last edited by bwv812 on Fri Nov 26, 2010 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: Question about appellate attorneys

Postby XxSpyKEx » Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:56 pm

G. T. L. Rev. wrote: On the other, a case doesn't get more interesting just because the court changes from a district court to an appellate court. In other words, an ERISA or contract case doesn't get any sexier just because you're in front of 3 or 9 judges rather than one.


Actually it does get sexier. Most cases rarely go to trial, so in litigation you can expect to do a lot more bullshit getting in the ditch and digging type work (such as going to and taking depositions, sending and answering interrogatories, answers to complaints and really just a ton of crap about learning the facts of the case). Appeals, on the other hand, are mostly research and writing a brief. There's also the oral argument (if you get one). You basically just argue the law and there's definitely a higher level of intellectualism to it.

As people have indicated, getting into appellate at a larger/boutique firm is pretty difficult. If you are really interested there's are midsize firms that have appellate departments that deal mostly with state court cases (and federal cases typically on the basis of diversity jurisdiction). The level of intellectualism at one of these firms (for most of the cases) isn't as high, but it's also a lot easier to get in -- you basically just need to do a state supreme court clerkship or an state appellate court clerkship along with other credentials (e.g. doing well in moot court, publications, etc). Getting a state appellate level clerkship is obviously a lot easier than a federal circuit.




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