Category: Appeals Lawyer

How to Choose the Right Appeals Lawyer for Your Case? – Guest Post


Appeals Lawyer

Appealing a court ruling or judgment is complex. Approximately 90% of appeals are ultimately rejected in the US criminal justice system (Source). With the odds stacked against you, having the right lawyer for your appeal is critical. But how can you select the best attorney to handle this intricate legal process?

Let’s explore what makes for an effective appeals lawyer and how to pick the right one for your situation.

The Appeals Process Explained

Before diving into choosing a lawyer, let’s provide a brief overview of the appeals process. This involves taking a case to a higher court to review and hopefully overturn the judgment.

There Are Two Main Types of Appeals

  • Direct Appeal: Requesting a higher court re-evaluate the case immediately after a trial court’s ruling. This focuses on alleged errors made by the trial judge or jury.
  • Collateral Appeal: Filing an appeal after the direct appeals window has expired, often based on new evidence. This aims to prove there were violations damaging to the defendant’s rights.

Regardless of the type, appeals adhere to strict procedures. Meeting rigid filing deadlines and legal standards is complex. An experienced appeals lawyer is crucial.

Qualities of a Strong Appeals Attorney

So, what should you look for when vetting appeals lawyers? Here are the top traits and skills to consider:


Opt for attorneys who specialize specifically in appeals rather than general practice lawyers. Handling appeals is its own niche requiring mastery of distinct rules and procedures. Look for a dedicated focus on appeals.

Past Appeals Success

Review the lawyer’s appeals track record and win rate. While most appeals get rejected, you want someone who has successfully overturned some rulings. Experience, specifically winning appeals is vital.

Connections and Reputation

Look for lawyers respected by appeals court judges and clerks. These connections can help influence decisions. Also, verify their solid reputation among peers and clients. Both indicate higher chances of success.

Communication Skills

Appeals largely rely on written legal arguments rather than trials’ verbal aspects. Your lawyer must be able to craft persuasive briefs. Look for excellence in written advocacy.

Meticulous Research Skills

 Strong research skills are critical when developing appeal arguments and identifying technical errors to challenge. Verify their capacity to dig deep into case details.


 Appeals lawyers shouldn’t just tell you what you want to hear. They need objectivity to give honest assessments of success chances. Seek candor about the realities and options.


Look for genuine passion and interest in the appeals process from potential lawyers. Handling appeals well requires enthusiasm and commitment.

Of course, also verify credentials like education, licensure and membership in legal groups. But specialized expertise and skill in appeals are the top characteristics that increase odds of success.

Where to Find Appeals Lawyers

 So where should you start your search for the right appeal attorney match? Some options include:

  • State bar association referral services – Many compile lists of appeals specialists.
  • Court websites – Appellate court sites often list appeals lawyers.
  • Legal ranking sites – Third party rating sites like Avvo rate and review lawyers.
  • State appeals defender – Your state may have a public appeals defender office.
  • Private law firms – Look for firms specializing specifically in appeals cases.
  • Client reviews – Get references from successfully appealed cases.

Don’t limit yourself to lawyers in your local area either. Since appeals center on written briefs rather than in-court work, there are often no geographic restrictions on which lawyer you can hire.

Questions to Ask Potential Lawyers

 Once you’ve identified potential appeals lawyers to interview, be sure to ask these key questions:

  • How many appeals have you handled in my state?
  • What is your success rate for appeals cases?
  • Are you willing to take my case through the appeals process pro bono or on contingency if needed?
  • Do you see any strong grounds for appeal in my case? Why?
  • What will your legal fee structure be if I hire you?
  • Can you share an example brief you’ve filed in a similar appeal?
  • What communication can I expect during the appeals process?

Their answers will help you determine if they have the right experience, skills and commitment to maximize your chances of a successful appeal. Take time to thoroughly vet multiple lawyers before deciding.

Evaluating Appeals Lawyers

 When comparing potential appeals attorneys, keep these factors in mind:

  • Experience with similar appeals
  • Knowledge of judges and clerks
  • Reasonable and flexible fee structure
  • Willingness to take the case pro bono or on contingency
  • Strength of sample appeal briefs
  • Realistic assessment of success chances
  • Passion for the appeals process

You want a lawyer who instills confidence that they possess the specialized expertise to handle your appeal at the right price point. Weigh options carefully to make the smartest choice.

The key is finding a lawyer who gives you the best opportunity possible during an already challenging appeals process. Their skills can make all the difference.

Drafting a Persuasive Brief

  A compelling appeal necessitates a brief that persuasively argues key points of law. Here are tips for lawyers on writing an effective brief:

  • Clearly identify the precise legal errors to appeal.
  • Thoroughly explain the applicable statutes and precedents.
  • Use logic and precedent to frame a strong legal argument.
  • Maintain a professional tone without emotion or drama.
  • Format the brief cleanly and present key info upfront.
  • Proofread closely and refine to concise precision.
  • Welcome feedback from colleagues to strengthen arguments.

An ideal brief strikes a balance between clarity, precision, and persuasive advocacy. It should swiftly capture the judges’ attention while methodically constructing the case.


How much do appeals lawyers cost?

Appeals lawyers typically charge $200-$500 per hour. Simple appeals may cost $5,000-$10,000 total, while complex appeals can cost $25,000 or more. Pro bono and contingency fee options may be available depending on the details of your case. Discuss costs upfront and obtain fee agreements in writing.

When should I file an appeal?

For direct appeals of criminal convictions, you typically must file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the sentence or judgment. Other deadlines apply for civil matters and collateral appeals. Don’t wait, as exceeding strict appeals deadlines can make overturning the ruling impossible.

What percentage of appeals are successful?

Typically, only around 10-15% of appeals succeed in overturning the prior court’s ruling, particularly in cases of criminal convictions. But with the right lawyer and case circumstances, you may beat the long odds. Find an attorney experienced specifically in winning appeals for the best chances.