One somewhat frequent question we field as appellate lawyers is why the client should hire us given that we know very little about the case whereas trial counsel already knows it all. At times like this we obviously address the issue of fresh insights and objectivity, and it doesn’t hurt that various appellate decisions have remarked on the subject. Here is an excerpt from one:

“Given the facts and circumstances as well as the precedents which govern review, this appeal was ‘dead on arrival’ at the appellate courthouse.

“We also observe that trial attorneys who prosecute their own appeals, such as appellant, may have ‘tunnel vision.’ Having tried the case themselves, they become convinced of the merits of their cause. They may lose objectivity and would be well served by consulting and taking the advice of disinterested members of the bar, schooled in appellate practice. We suspect that had appellant done so they would have advised him not to pursue this appeal.”

(Estate of Gilkison (1998) 65 Cal.App.4th 1443, 1449-1450.)


Now and then we are asked what it is, exactly, that we do as appellate counsel. Nobody answered that question as well as the late Justice David Sills. “Appellate work is most assuredly not the recycling of trial level points and authorities.” For the rest of what he said, read this.