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Cope Ehlers, P.C.

Appellate Practice

Cope Ehlers, P.C. attorneys represent clients in state appellate courts across the country including state Supreme Courts, in the United States Circuit Courts of Appeal, and before the Supreme Court of the United States.

An old Chicago litigation hand many years ago said you win in the trial court by demonstrating to the trial judge that you will be the trial judge’s best advocate in the appellate court.

Appellate practice fundamentally involves three things. First, in any appeal you make the best argument possible that the trial judge got things correct—or wrong depending on whether you are the appellant or appellee. That means you master the record and the law. Second, you convince the appellate court what the law should say on those issues in your appeal. One may often win a difficult appeal by asking an appellate court to “clarify” ambiguity in otherwise “settled” law. Finally, third, and this requires a longer view, you work with your client to develop an appellate strategy that best advances your client’s long-term interests.

Appeals represent both opportunity and risk. A great appeal result can result in a win in an individual case and in an appellate court affirming a principle of law that is good for the client. The risk often, however, is that a bad appellate result can hurt a client not only in the case on appeal, but in future cases as well. The key to a good appellate practice, the same as trial practice, is to know that some appeals should never happen.

At Cope Ehlers, we handle one off appeals in individual matters where the focus is on the result in a single matter. We also work with clients on the long view and provide counsel concerning the client’s appellate position in various types of cases that are central to their business across jurisdictions. It can be crucial for some clients facing difficult issues to involve appellate counsel from the very beginning of a litigation matter to ensure that the client creates the best possible record in the trail court and preserves those issues that may be contested on appeal.

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