Appellate

Overview

Efficient, Cost-Effective Appeals

When a client heads to appellate court — whether to overturn an adverse result or defend a positive one, to gain settlement leverage, or to establish an important legal principle fundamental to a business or industry — our Appellate Client Services Team offers powerful and cost-effective counsel. We do so in two ways.  We work collaboratively with our clients and trial counsel to leverage the client’s initial investment. And, as lawyers who concentrate on appellate practice, we make winning arguments by identifying the key issues needed for success on appeal, thus avoiding unnecessary expenditures.    

Leveraging the Initial Investment

While appeals can involve important legal issues, we know that clients often view them simply as costly boulders in the road. That is why we work collaboratively with trial counsel to ensure that our clients’ initial expenses are not a lost cost, but rather an investment. We do this by taking advantage of trial counsel’s deep knowledge of the procedural history of the case and of the evidence that has been developed.

A Fresh Set of Eyes, Not a New Set of Egos

We are able to give clients a fresh perspective because we understand the appellate process. We walk clients through the appellate court process, explaining the way the court will view their case. We advise them on the strengths and weaknesses of various tactical options. We dissect the trial, discarding unpersuasive arguments and picking the two or three issues central to an appeal. And we always seek to deploy cost-effective strategies, including jurisdictional challenges, to dismiss improper appeals.

Setting the Stage for a Successful Appeal

Clients frequently call on us to provide strategic counseling and advice on legal issues even before they reach the appellate level. They engage us early in litigation to ensure that they are not barred from raising issues should an appeal be necessary. They ask us to preserve appellate issues by drafting dispositive motions directed to key legal issues, proposed jury instructions, motions to limit or exclude prejudicial or unscientific expert testimony. After the evidence is in, clients have us draft motions to dismiss before a jury makes its decision or to ask the trial court itself to overturn any adverse verdict.

Our team helps forge and preserve a solid trial court record, letting the trial lawyers focus on what they do best — marshalling evidence and presenting it persuasively to judges and juries. We give our clients their best chance of succeeding both at trial and on appeal.

We Rescue Cases Gone Awry

Clients frequently call on us to “rescue” their cases, whether in response to an adverse jury verdict or ruling from the trial judge on a legal issue, or to the need to reassess strategy. In trial court, we are called on to persuade trial judges to change their minds in areas where the judge’s discretion is greatest. During appeal, we can step in to rework briefs and develop oral arguments tailored both to specific needs and to the court’s interests. We are called upon to turn things around — and we do.

Depth and Breadth of Experience

Our appellate lawyers have established a reputation for successfully representing clients in major appeals in virtually every litigation forum, from the United States Supreme Court to federal and state appellate courts, government agencies, national and international tribunals and arbitration panels. We have also handled appeals in virtually every area of the law, including product liability, commercial disputes, insurance and environmental matters. With one of the lowest attorney turnover rates among large law firms in the United States, our firm’s stability and continuity of personnel mean that the team you hire today will be there tomorrow and for years to come.

  • Experience

    Our experience includes:

    • Ongoing consultation during trial to ensure that issues are not foreclosed on appeal
    • Assessing cases and evaluating issues for appeal
    • Taking and defending appeals as of right
    • Preparing petitions for discretionary review
    • Preparing petitions for extraordinary relief, including writs of mandamus and supervisory orders
    • Drafting post-trial motions, often necessary to preserve certain issues
    • Drafting summary judgment motions, particularly concerning issues of first impression
    • Litigating interlocutory appeals, including to ensure that arbitration agreements are enforced and that court cases are litigated in the proper state or county
    • “Rescue” litigation for trial and appellate crises
    • Amicus curiae briefs
    • Administrative appeals

    Our Clients

    Our appellate litigation clients range from multinational public companies to small, closely-held businesses and individuals, and from industry groups to governmental and nonprofit organizations. We represent clients in industries as varied as pharmaceuticals, utilities, insurance, banking and finance, education, professional sports and real estate.

    Major Appellate Cases

    • In litigation arising from the September 11 terrorist attacks, saved a governmental agency from multimillion-dollar environmental liability by establishing that the attacks were an “act of war” that negated any indemnification obligation to developer.  In re September 11 Litigation:  Cedar & Washington Associates, LLC, v. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey et al., ___F.3d ___ (2d Cir. May 2, 2014)
    • Following a state supreme court’s decision to retroactively expand insurers’ liability for claims arising from accidents with uninsured motorists, persuaded the court to sharply limit retroactivity.  Whelan v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 329 P. 3d 646 (NM 2014)
    • In litigation arising from a high-profile airline crash in the Democratic Republic of Congo, successfully defended insurer’s choice of a Georgia forum to hear claims that policy should be rescinded for misrepresentations in the insurance application.  Lima Delta Company, et al. v. Global Aerospace, Inc., 325 Ga. App. 76, 752 S.E.2d 135 (Ga. App. 2013).
    • Led the successful, multiyear effort against personal injury plaintiffs’ attempts to expand tort liability under a civil conspiracy theory, ensuring that solvent defendants were not unfairly shouldered with damages caused by bankrupt entities.  McClure v. Owens Corning Fiberglas Corp., 720 NE 2d 242 (Ill. 1999); Gillenwater v. Honeywell Intern., Inc., 996 NE 2d 1179 (Ill. 4th Dist. 2013)
    • With billions of dollars in potential insurance coverage on the line, persuaded the Virginia Supreme Court that CGL policies did not cover claims asserting that the energy industry was responsible for damages flowing from global climate change.  The AES Corporation v. Steadfast Insurance Company, 283 Va. 609, 725 S.E.2d 532 (Va. 2012).
    • Successfully fought the expansion of mail fraud liability for breaches of fiduciary duty, from the trial court through to the United States Supreme Court, leading to clearer standards for corporate fiduciaries and to the exoneration of a former general counsel of a  public company on criminal charges.  Black v. United States, 561 US 465 (2010); United States v. Black, 625 F. 3d 386 (7th Cir. 2010)
    • Persuaded the United States Supreme Court to set aside a punitive-damages award against a glass manufacturer and then persuaded the Oregon Court of Appeals for the first time to reduce such an award.  Anchor Hocking, Inc. v. Waddill, 538 U.S. 974 (2003)); Waddill v. Anchor Hocking, Inc., 190 Or. App. 172 (Or. App. 2003).