February 2011

Panelist taking notes.jpgEvery now and again, I attend a CLE that does more than satisfy the hours requirement. Occasionally, there is a seminar where I walk out of the room with a new set of tools to become a better lawyer. Such was the case with the Georgia Appellate Practice Seminar sponsored by the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Georgia. I moderated a panel titled, “The Winning Brief: How to Capture the Judge’s Attention (And How to Lose it).”

When I introduced the panel, I confessed up front that I was shamelessly taking advantage of the situation. In essence, the panel was made up of people I would like to corner at a cocktail party and ask questions about how to write a brief until they run away or leap from a window to stop taking questions from me. Friday, they were a captive audience for well over an hour, and I had a big outline of questions prepared to ask them. I asked all the stuff I wanted to know about the most. I hope that the audience (and it was a big audience) didn’t notice that I was taking notes to try to remember as much as I could of what the panelists were saying. I’m going to share some of it with you here. Later this week, I will share with you the great lessons I learned from the panel that spoke on oral argument (most of the lessons they taught were things that I have learned over the years by making the mistakes and learning from them).

The panel was made up of Presiding Judge Herbert Phipps, from the Georgia Court of Appeals. Also on the panel was Judge Stephen Dillard and Judge Christopher McFadden. The practitioner on the panel was Gerard Kleinrock, who is the appellate division for the DeKalb County Public Defenders Office. I was trying to moderate the panel and take notes at the same time. So, there may be some wisdom that doesn’t make it here. I also may be giving the wrong panelist credit or not attributing some of it to anyone because I don’t remember who said what. So, here are things I learned moderating the panel on Oral Argument.

Continue Reading Lessons I Learned About Doing Appeals from the Georgia Appellate Practice Seminar

Panel Discussion.jpgOn February 25, 2011, the Georgia Appellate Practice Section will host a CLE on Appellate Practice at the State Bar of Georgia. The event has something to offer lawyers who practice before Georgia appellate courts, whether the lawyer is a seasoned appellate practitioner or only handles the occasional appeal. The event will cover all the major steps in the appeal from preserving the record, to writing the brief, to filing the brief, to handling the oral argument. The unique component of this event is that it features judges from the appellate courts and seasoned appellate lawyers conversing in panels. It won’t be a day of speeches. Rather, it will be a day of interactive learning and conversation. 

I will be moderating a panel titled The Winning Brief: How to Capture the Judge’s Attention (And How to Lose it). Panelists will include three judges from the Georgia Court of Appeals, including Presiding Judge Herbert Phipps, Hon. Christopher McFadden, and Hon.Stephen Dillard. And Gerard Kleinrock, a great criminal appeals attorney who recently won a case in the United States Supreme Court, will participate.

This panel is great because it offers a combination of insight from the point of view of both sides of the bench. Mr. Kleinrock is a seasoned appellate lawyer. Presiding Judge Phipps has been on the Court since 1999. Judges Dillard and McFadden are new to the bench and can offer a fresh perspective on both preparing briefs for the court and reading briefs as judges. 

The panel will converse about what makes appellate briefs effective and how briefs can also harm the client if the writer makes poor choices. 

I am drafting an outline to guide the panel’s conversation. But I’d welcome the input of readers here. Even if you aren’t from Georgia, you could possibly benefit from hearing from this panel about writing appellate briefs.

Obviously, if you attend the CLE, you will get the full benefit of the discussion. But I will write a blog entry to sum up the best lessons I learn from this panel.