Whether the goal is to reverse an adverse ruling or protect a favorable one from reversal, the Appellate Practice Group at Gordon & Rees has the experience and talent to represent clients in a wide variety of appellate matters. Our expertise includes commercial litigation; class actions; insurance coverage; environmental and toxic tort matters; employment, discrimination and harassment cases; product liability; construction defect; professional liability; ERISA; admiralty; trademark; securities regulation; eminent domain and inverse condemnation; government contracts; bankruptcy; insurance defense work and a variety of other fields. Our appellate lawyers have extensive experience in state and federal courts of appeal throughout the country, including two unanimous decisions before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Our expertise includes more than appeals from final judgments. We frequently help clients in writ proceedings to protect or attack significant rulings in advance of or during trial. In addition, our appellate experts advise and guide trial litigators on how to best position their cases to preserve victories on appeal or reverse adverse rulings. We also represent clients, including the trade associations to which they belong, as amici curiae ("friends of the court") in cases where our clients are not direct parties, but which present important issues affecting our clients' interests. Amicus representation requires identifying and presenting broader perspectives than those advanced by the parties directly involved. Our appellate attorneys also use their expertise to achieve justice for pro bono clients who would be without adequate legal representation but for our assistance.
We regularly consult with clients about appellate issues even before any court of appeal is involved, as well as during the course of drafting appellate briefs and petitions. We regularly conduct mock oral arguments in advance of the actual argument at an appellate court, and invite in-house counsel or other client representatives to participate and help hone the most effective possible presentation and responses to likely questions from the bench. Because we know how to evaluate whether to appeal, what issues to raise, and how to frame the client's position for success, we are better able to cost-effectively represent clients in appellate matters than firms without this appellate focus.
The skills required for appellate victories are different from the skills that deliver trial victories. As one California appellate court has observed: "Appellate work is most assuredly not the recycling of trial level points and authorities." Trial attorneys are experts at developing factual records, examining witnesses, and passionately persuading juries. Appellate attorneys develop legal arguments to persuade judges based on the record made in the trial court. Our appellate attorneys are skilled in the essential task of selecting from among the many issues presented at trial those that present the best chance of success in the different forum of appellate courts. Appellate judges and justices focus on uniformity of the law, questions of law, the application of law to facts, and how the result in one case might impact future cases. Appellate courts do not weigh the evidence or respond as readily to the emotional arguments that often carry the day at trial. We are experts at framing arguments appropriate to this different perspective, and to the different standards of review appellate courts apply.
Our attorneys are skilled in, and have published and lectured on, key appellate matters such as brief writing, oral argument, and the many unique procedural rules for handling appeals. Several of our attorneys have served as judicial clerks or research attorneys for state and federal appellate courts. Others serve in leadership positions in appellate bar organizations, including the current Vice-Chair of the Amicus Briefs Committee of the Association of Defense Counsel for Northern California and Nevada and the immediate past chair of the Appellate Practice Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco, as well as current members of the Appellate Advocacy Committee of the Defense Research Institute, the Amicus Committee of Washington Defense Trial Lawyers, and the Washington Appellate Lawyers Association.
We understand the language, agenda, and mandate of the appellate courts, which has led to our proven track record with successful petitions for review, merits briefs, and oral arguments. Our appellate attorneys also work with trial counsel in preparing post-trial motions and, frequently, trial filings (evidentiary motions, jury instructions, etc.), to help create the best possible record and frame issues for appeal. We provide candid and objective advice to clients on the important initial question of whether to pursue an appeal or writ petition.