Montana Appeals Lawyers

Appellate advocacy demands three distinct skills: (i) thorough research focused on the types of issues of concern to appellate judges; (ii) the reformulation of issues through trenchant analysis and attentiveness to the rule being sought; and (iii) highly developed written and oral advocacy skills keyed to the unique conditions of the appellate forum. The consistently successful use of these skills in high-stakes cases is what Measure Law Office, P.C., offers our appellate clients.

Appellate advocacy demands an approach different from trial court advocacy. Appellate lawyers do not have the opportunity to shape the record; they must construct the best arguments possible given the record. Appellate lawyers have at most two opportunities to persuade with the written word. They have even less opportunity to persuade the judges orally. And appellate judges, most of whom lack time to review the record or the case law personally, depend on the attorneys to present issues clearly and persuasively. The bottom line is that appellate advocacy is as unique a skill as any other specialty.

All too often, though, appellate advocacy is little more than trial court advocacy the second time around. Many attorneys focus solely on trial practice -- on developing a case through discovery, narrowing the issues through motion practice, and either negotiating a settlement or persuading a jury to render a favorable decision. An appeal often is an afterthought, with trial-focused litigators assuming that their trial preparation has sufficiently prepared them for appeal, and that all that is required is a rearguing of points already made in the trial court.

The result, too frequently, is appellate advocacy that does no more than rehash stale arguments, often arguments that failed at trial, without either narrowing or tailoring those arguments to a new audience with a new perspective: a panel of appellate judges.

Appellate Practice as a Specialty

Appellate attorneys must identify the key issues to affirm a favorable judgment or reverse an unfavorable one, frame those issues in the best possible light given the record and the applicable law, and present the issues in a direct and compelling manner. They must use the applicable standards of review to select the arguments to be presented and those to be discarded. They must make it as easy as possible for appellate judges, who lack a trial judge's ability to become familiar with a case as it progresses, to rule in their client's favor.

They do this by drawing upon the record, stating the law clearly and correctly (or, when necessary, urging a change in the law), and arguing plainly, without excessive rhetoric. Appellate advocates also must take a fresh look at settlement prospects in the post-judgment stage. In any appeal, especially if the verdict or trial court decision was adverse, a seasoned appellate practitioner, particularly one unencumbered by having participated in the trial, can offer an analysis of the settlement value of the case and the likely length and outcome of the appellate process. We are committed to meeting these special demands of appellate practice and providing appellate advocacy of the highest quality.