New York appellate attorney Joshua Rosenkranz of Orrick discusses what the biggest misperception people have about appellate law practice.
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I think the biggest misconception about appellate work is thinking that an appeal is just a redo of the trial. And, by that, I mean not just that lawyers think that the story that they told and the argument that they made needs to be kind of a duplicate of what they did at the trial court – which is obviously wrong. Appellate lawyers repackage arguments. They refine. They narrow. But they also often tell completely different stories. It’s one of the reasons you bring in an appellate lawyer. The trial lawyer is stuck in the story that they told the jury, and that’s all well and good. But sometimes, if the mistake that you think that the district court made, the trial level court made, is a mistake that requires you, in order to demonstrate how bad it was, to tell the story in a slightly different way, you need to be able to do that. You need to have the flexibility and the maneuverability to do that. Which is not to say you tell a completely different story, but you focus on different aspects of the evidence and tell it in a different way.