What makes someone an excellent advocate at the trial level significantly differs than the strengths required at the appellate level. Once the trial is over, if you need to appeal, it is a wise decision to get a different lawyer. This is true even if you feel very pleased with your trial attorney and their representation during the trial. Here are the reasons why.
Trial Lawyers have different skills
The skills required to effectively represent clients at the trial level and the appellate level are vastly different. Trials require skills for presenting argument in a courtroom. Furthermore, trial lawyers must have a strong courtroom presence and have the ability to gain the trust of a jury.
Appellate Lawyers require unique skills specific to appeals
On the other hand, appeals require a substantial amount of writing, intricate legal research and arguing difficult legal principals toward a panel of judges. Often times, the law is not clear, and the lawyer must creatively find ways to “poke holes” in the ruling of the trial court. Further, a strong appellate lawyer will challenge ambiguities in the law and try to make new law. This requires a drastically different skill set than preparing for trial.
A jack of all trades is a master of none
Trial and appellate work are entirely different types of practicing law, and both require continuous education to provide excellent representation to the client. What is required to be successful at either trial or appeals is so different that it is difficult to master both. Therefore, if your case is headed to the appellate court, it is better to find an attorney that focuses only on appeals.