Helping Trial Lawyers Navigate the Appellate System

The Value of Second Opinions

5688645738_6eae5c1586_oRecently, Patrick Lamb of In Search of Perfect Client Service asked how often in-house counsel seek a second opinion about strategy. (Rarely, it seems.) Drawing on medical statistics, he noted that 50% of Americans do not get second opinions for important medical diagnoses, but among those who do, the second opinion leads to changes in the diagnosis or treatment 30% of the time.

As Patrick said:

Fresh eyes are often the best eyes.  People trying to solve a problem often lock-in on a strategy and play favorites with it. Fresh eyes can provide needed perspective.

A fresh set of eyes is one of the best attributes an appellate lawyer brings to a trial team. A new perspective can be beneficial when critiquing a strategy after the fact—as in Patrick’s example of a bellwether product-liability trial—but even more so while the matter is still going on. Appellate counsel with the ability to see two or three steps ahead can impact a case in the moment.

Would a second opinion from an appellate lawyer change a decisionmaker’s strategy in real time? There’s no way to know if it’s never sought.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Sean MacEntee.

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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