How much do you charge?
Like most lawyers, I often bill by the hour. But unlike most lawyers, I’m fast. I usually end up billing only a fraction of the number of hours other lawyers bill for the same work.
For appeals and writs, I usually charge a flat fee, based on the size of the record and the complexity of the case. Most clients prefer this, because it is not open-ended and you don’t have to worry about fees going through the roof.↑ back to top
What kind of cases do you take?
Every kind of civil case.
When I worked as a law clerk for a Justice of the California Supreme Court, one of the most interesting aspects of the job was the wide variety of cases I dealt with. Since then, I’ve taken every kind of case, including those involving contract interpretation, fights against government agencies, medical malpractice suits, real property disputes, and constitutional issues.↑ back to top
What work do you perform?
I handle appeals and writ proceedings from beginning to end. I also consult with lawyers handling appeals and writs, reviewing their petitions and briefs and giving advice about how to improve the chances of winning. I also help out lawyers in trial court motion practice, such as motions for summary judgment, motions for new trial, and motions in limine.↑ back to top
Can you help me decide whether an appeal would be worthwhile?
Yes. This is one of the most important functions I can perform. Why waste a lot of money on an appeal that has little chance of winning? I can examine the record (or part of it) and help you to view the situation objectively, from a financial point of view.
Filing an appeal is risky business. Usually, your chance of getting a reversal is less than 50%, and it might cost you a lot to lose.
In addition to paying an appellate lawyer, you will have to pay for the Reporter’s Transcript and assembling the Appendix or Clerk’s Transcript. You might recover costs from the other side if you win the appeal – and recover your attorney’s fees if a contract or statute so provides. But if you lose the appeal, you won’t be able to recover these amounts, and you might have to pay your opponent’s costs and maybe his attorneys fees. And if you win the appeal, you still might have to go to trial before claiming victory.
You might have strong emotions about the injustice of the trial court’s decision. But also take a cold, hard look at the financial costs and potential benefits of appealing. For example, suppose the trial court entered a judgment against you for $100,000, it will cost you $30,000 to pay your appellate lawyer, and a reversal will end the case and wipe out the $100,000 judgment. If your lawyer conducts a careful analysis of the case and concludes that you have a 50% chance of winning the appeal, it makes sense to appeal. You will be investing $30,000 to get a 50% chance of winning $100,000. If you could get odds like that in Vegas, you’d be very wealthy.
Most cases are more complicated, where costs of a retrial and the risk of an award of attorneys fees on appeal to your opponent must also be considered. But the same basic method of analysis should be done in every case.
Deciding whether to appeal is a big decision. Spending a few dollars to get an expert opinion on this issue is well worth it.↑ back to top
What is your experience?
Over four decades practicing law in trial and appellate courts, state and federal, all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. I’ve written a book on Winning An Appeal and taught hundreds of law students and lawyers on how to handle appeals, write briefs, and orally argue cases.↑ back to top
Do you win?
Yes. I usually represent the appellant. The appellant usually loses on appeal – only about 20% of civil appeals are successful. But my success rate in published cases is around 80%. I guess experience matters.
There is no guarantee that I’ll win your case, of course. But I’ll put all my talents and energy into helping you win. I’m very competitive and I fight like hell for my clients.