Helping Trial Lawyers Navigate the Appellate System

An Appellate Lawyer Makes a Trial Team Better

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A while back, the folks at Texas Lawyer invited me to submit an article on how appellate counsel may play a supporting role in the trial court. The article is now available online and will appear in next week’s print edition.
In the article, I focus on four areas in which an appellate lawyer can support trial counsel, particularly in jury cases. (Here, I will add a fifth area that comes up in bench trials, although the article doesn’t discuss it.)
  1. Theory, strategy, and error preservation
  2. Dispositive motions
  3. Jury charges and formal charge conferences
  4. Post-trial motions and judgment formulation
  5. Requesting and preparing proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law
As I conclude in the article, trial lawyers and their clients should consider retaining experienced appellate counsel to handle these sorts of tasks and perhaps even sit second or third chair at trial. This arrangement allows trial lawyers to focus on what they do best and thus serves the client’s interests.
What would you add to the list of ways appellate counsel can help a trial team?


D. Todd Smith
About the Author

D. Todd Smith is an Austin-based civil appellate specialist who works with trial teams from the earliest stages of litigation. In trial courts, he takes the lead on strategic analysis and briefing, jury charges, and potentially dispositive motions, all with a focus on preserving error and positioning cases for appellate review.

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