Why Use a Big Firm on Appeal?

D. Todd Smith (pictured) opines at Texas Appellate Law Blog on an article at Technolawyer that offers five reasons why general counsel tend to stick with large firms despite “rumblings about how high hourly rates and associate salary increases may lead them elsewhere.” Specifically, he asks: “Do these reasons apply when a GC is looking for appellate counsel?” He then goes down the list of reasons and concludes that, for the most part, they should not apply to a general counsel’s selection of appellate counsel. In the process, he notes some key distinctions between trial practice and appellate practice that many may not be aware of.

Of course, all you general counsel reading here should immediately read Todd’s post, after which you will no doubt feel compelled to hire Todd if your appeal is in Texas and me if your appeal is in California or the Ninth Circuit!

I especially like his take on appellate practice versus specialization:

Appellate lawyers are perhaps the last of the generalists. Although appellate practice has gained notoriety as a specialty, it focuses less on the substantive law than on the lawyer’s research and writing ability, knowledge of appellate procedure, and familiarity with the court hearing the case. Because appeals are limited to the trial record, knowledge of the client’s business and history are not as important as the ability to guide the client through the appellate process with the goal for that specific case in mind.

Very well said!