Top Appellate FAQs:
Q. HOW MUCH TIME DO I HAVE TO FILE AN APPEAL?
A: The rules governing the deadline for filing an appeal can be surprisingly complicated, and because a failure to file an appeal within the deadline is jurisdictional (meaning the appeals court lacks the power even to consider an untimely appeal), we strongly recommend consulting an experienced appellate lawyer immediately upon issuance of an adverse ruling from a trial court. Generally, one has thirty (30) days from the date of issuance of a final order to lodge the appeal, but calculating that deadline depends upon which system the case is in (state or federal), whether authorized motions for rehearing or post-judgment relief are pending, or whether the order is truly “final” and appealable, or one of a select class of interlocutory rulings that may be appealed. Since the analysis of when an appeal is due can be complex and highly context-specific, it is important to consult an appellate lawyer as soon as possible.
Q. WHY HIRE AN APPELLATE LAWYER FOR AN APPEAL?
A. One of the benefits of retaining the services of an experienced appellate lawyer after a ruling in the trial court is that your case gets a “fresh look” from someone who is not yet intimately familiar with the details of the case and who is familiar with the way that appellate judges may view the issues. Appellate lawyers are able to objectively assess the relative strengths of your case and can strategize which issues are most likely to have a chance of success on appeal. Experienced in the ways appellate judges approach a case, our appellate partners are excellent writers and oral advocates who excel at crafting written briefs and presenting oral argument in a credible and persuasive manner, targeted at the appellate audience that will be the final arbiter of the case.
Q. DOES IT EVER MAKE SENSE TO CONSULT AN APPELLATE LAWYER EARLY ON, WHILE THE CASE IS STILL PROCEEDING IN THE TRIAL COURT?
A. Yes, and many times an appellate lawyer can help trial counsel identify and get around legal issues that could be problematic for a later appeal. One of our appellate partners is regularly retained by trial lawyers to provide “trial support,” whereby he briefs and argues key complex motions before the trial court, strategizes with trial lawyers on how to preserve certain issues for appeal, and even plays an active role at trial, arguing legal matters as they come up.
Q. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HIRE AN APPELLATE LAWYER?
A. We take on appellate representation through a variety of fee structures, depending upon the nature of the case and the preference of the client. In tort cases, we typically handle appeals on a contingency basis (we get paid only if we win). The Florida Bar has established guidelines for contingency fees in personal injury and wrongful death cases. See Rule 4-1.5 of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar:
In commercial appeals, we typically charge an hourly rate, though we are open to discussing a hybrid fee (a reduced hourly rate blended with a contingency fee) or even a flat fee structure, depending on the case.