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Bruce R. Bryan

Advantages of an Appeals Lawyer

Bruce R. Bryan, Esq. - Criminal Appeals Attorney Syracuse NY | New York City Appellate Lawyer

Representation by a skilled appellate attorney offers several advantages:

  • Appellate experience counts

Like anything, when a person concentrates their practice in a certain area, they get better at it. Appeals involve specialized skills that not all lawyers possess. In particular, trial lawyers and appellate attorneys possess different skills. Few trial lawyers are also gifted appellate advocates.

  • A fresh perspective

The trial attorney can have trouble viewing the issues of an appeal objectively, having battled in the trenches in the trial court during which he or she formed fixed ideas about the strengths and weaknesses of the case. A skilled appellate attorney offers a fresh perspective on the case and can view the appeal objectively. The appellate attorney may see winning arguments that the trial attorney does not.

  • Undivided attention

A trial attorney can have difficulty handling both trial work and appeals. Each appeal demands a significant block of time during which the attorney can focus solely on the facts and legal principles that comprise the appeal. Trial attorneys often find their time divided – fielding telephone calls, appearing in court on other cases, conducting depositions, and meeting deadlines on motions. An appellate attorney has the ability to give individual attention to each appeal he or she handles.

  • Objective review of the record

The facts that may be raised on an appeal are limited to the record. An attorney may not raise facts to an appellate court that do not appear in the papers or transcripts. Appellate attorneys make the most of what is in the record and view the record as an appellate court would. Sometimes the memory of what transpired at trial, although not in the record, can hinder the trial attorney’s ability to review the record objectively.

  • Broad knowledge of the law

An appellate attorney with years of experience develops a broad understanding of legal principles, trends, and arguments that are likely to win. Sometimes issues are novel or of first impression to an appellate court. In such instance, the appellate court is concerned with how the case will set precedent. The skilled appellate attorney draws on his or her broad knowledge of the law to fashion arguments based on analogous areas of law and favorable policy considerations that the appellate court should consider.

  • Efficient, thorough, and cost-effective

An appeal can be a massive job involving the review of a record hundreds or thousands of pages in length and multiple complex legal issues. An experienced appellate attorney is typically more efficient and thorough in reviewing the record and conducting legal research, having developed proven methods to obtain all relevant facts and law to the appeal. Such efficiency not only results in better quality, but also a cost-savings to the client.

  • The importance of appellate standards of review

An experienced appellate attorney is keenly aware that the strength of an issue and the prospect for winning can depend on the applicable appellate standard of review. Trial attorneys are frequently unfamiliar with these standards and therefore can incorrectly evaluate the strength of an argument and its chance of winning.

  • Master of persuasive writing

The brief is extremely important to an appeal. It is more important than the oral argument because it is received first by the court and has the greatest influence on the decision-making process. Appellate courts complain that many attorneys have poor writing skills. Advanced persuasive writing is not one of the primary skills typically possessed by trial attorneys. Most attorneys are not taught advanced persuasive writing in law school. An experienced appellate attorney should be a master of persuasive writing. The appellate attorney should make the complex sound simple. In subtle and direct ways, the appellate attorney employs many tools to enhance the arguments and persuade the judges. These advanced skills take years to develop and increase the chance of success.

  • Adept at appellate oral arguments

An oral argument before a panel of appellate judges differs from a closing argument to a jury or the ordinary legal argument to a trial judge. The attorney on appeal must argue to multiple judges simultaneously. The appellate judges are not persuaded by emotion. Nor are they interested in a lengthy restatement of the facts of the case. They want the lawyer to immediately focus on that which is critical to deciding the legal issues. Trial attorneys too often approach an appellate argument the same way they would an argument to a jury or a trial judge. This mistake can seize defeat from the jaws of victory. The skilled appellate attorney understands the dynamics of an appellate argument, from the outset "going for the jugular" by focusing the judges on the legal arguments and principles most favorable to the client. The appellate attorney anticipates adverse questions and views the argument as an opportunity to persuade, not as one to impress the judges with eloquence. This skill takes years to develop.

B. Bryan, "Defendant's Guide to Criminal Appeals, Review & Parole in New York," (2005)


Guide to Criminal Appeals, Review & Parole in New York | Bryan Criminal Appeals Lawyer NY

The object of appellate advocacy is to persuade. The winning advocate focuses the court on the strength of your case. Read More

Cornell Adjunct Professor of Law


Guide to Criminal Appeals, Review & Parole in New York | Bryan Criminal Appeals Lawyer NY

As an adjunct faculty, Professor Bryan teaches "Advanced Persuasive Writing and Appellate Advocacy" to second and third year law students at Cornell Law School. Read More