An appeal is a lot different from a trial. Whether it is a criminal appeal or a civil appeal, there are unique rules, regulations and procedures that must be addressed. For this reason, litigators tend to focus on trial law or appellate lawyer—not both. In this article, you will find an overview of three key differences between an appellate lawyer and a trial lawyer and an explanation of how an appellate attorney and a trial attorney can actually work together. 

Difference #1: Objective

The objectives at trial are different from the objectives during an appeal. The initial trial is an opportunity to build and present your case. Trial lawyers must introduce evidence, build the record, and establish key factors. The goal of a trial lawyer is to prevail in the legal matter—perhaps by obtaining an acquittal in a criminal case or getting a successful judgment in a civil case. 

In contrast, the objective of an appellate lawyer is to convince an appeals court that there was a material legal or procedural error that justifies a remedy. As noted by the Judicial Branch of California, an appellate court is restricted in the evidence that it can consider. An appellate lawyer is focused on the existing record and the fairness (or lack thereof) of the initial trial. 

Difference #2: Experience 

Experience matters. When hiring an attorney, it is always best to look for a professional who has relevant experience. The experience of a trial lawyer is radically different from the experience of an appellate law attorney. They spend their time working on different issues. It is almost always a major mistake to keep your trial lawyer for an appeal. Specialized experience is valuable. 

Difference #3: Expertise

Trial lawyers have experience in litigation—but they often lack expertise in appellate law procedures. Many unique rules and regulations apply. As a simple example, a party in Washington that wishes to file an appeal must submit their notice of appeal in a timely manner—either within 30 days or within the deadline listed in RAP 5.2e. Lack of expertise about the relevant legal procedures could cause you serious problems. 

You Could Benefit From Consulting an Appellate Law Attorney During a Trial 

It would be a mistake to view appellate lawyers and trial lawyers as oppositional. While they certainly bring different skills, experience, and expertise to the table, an appellate lawyer and a trial lawyer can actually work together. You do not have to wait until you receive an unfavorable judgment to work with an appellate law attorney. In fact, in major cases, trial lawyers often consult with appellate lawyers early on in the legal process—ensuring that the case is properly set up for an appeal should one prove to be necessary. 

Schedule a Strictly Confidential Consultation With an Appellate Lawyer 

At The Appellate Law Firm, our appellate lawyers handle civil and criminal appeals. We are devoted to providing the highest level of professional guidance and support. Reach out to us via phone or use our confidential contact form to set up an appointment with an attorney. We provide appellate law representation in federal courts, California, Washington, and in several other state jurisdictions. 

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