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3 Reasons You Should Hire a Divorce Lawyer with Appellate Experience

3 Reasons You Should Hire a Divorce Lawyer with Appellate Experience

Most individuals seeking a divorce do not plan to go to trial, much less appeal the final judgment. But the reality is, many cases see the courtroom on some contested matter at some point, and any time the court rules on a case, there is a chance the decision could be appealed.

If your divorce lawyer understands appellate practice, you are much more likely to resolve your case favorably and in the most efficient and expeditious way possible.

Here’s why it’s important to hire a divorce lawyer with appellate experience:

#1 – The Best Litigators Understand Appeals

Hiring a trial lawyer who understands appellate law saves time, money, and stress. In order to prepare your case for settlement or trial, your lawyer must understand appeals.

Appellate attorneys have the foresight and experience to strategize early in the litigation to set you up for success at both the trial and appellate levels. Appellate law influences, among other matters, what the Parties can negotiate, the parameters of their negotiations, and whether a judge or jury decides matters they cannot resolve by agreement.

A trial lawyer who understands appeals knows to ask:

  • When do you need a court reporter?
  • What motions do you need to file to preserve issues?
  • When are findings of fact required?

Attorneys who have already navigated the appellate process are the best attorneys to answer these questions and preserve your record for appeal, if that becomes necessary. An attorney who understands appellate practice is more likely to engage in reasonable settlement negotiations, increasing the likelihood of settlement.

Even if the case does not settle, however, you want your trial attorney to understand how to preserve issues for appeal and how to most effectively obtain pretrial rulings on questions of law. Obtaining favorable pretrial rulings increases the likelihood of settling the case before trial, or, alternatively, winning a favorable verdict at trial.

A lawyer who is experienced in appeals is thinking strategically on multiple levels, essentially playing three-dimensional chess while everyone else is playing checkers.

#2 – Appellate Lawyers are Creative Problem-Solvers

The law is constantly developing, and the best appellate lawyers understand how to influence the way those developments impact individuals. When the law is unclear, or there is a gap in the law, an appellate attorney has the experience to think creatively about how to argue for a favorable result in front of the trial court.

Doing appellate work requires a deep understanding of how the various aspects of the law work together. So, when your trial lawyer has appellate experience, you can trust that your lawyer has the knowledge and creative juices to think innovatively about the best way to resolve your case before and during trial.

#3 – Using the Same Lawyer for Trial and Appeal Saves Time, Money, and Frustration

A contested divorce action can feel like a never-ending process. It is invasive and tedious. So, if you find yourself dealing with an appeal after grueling litigation, the thought of hiring a new attorney may be overwhelming.

Hiring a new attorney means building a new relationship and again tearing open wounds to inform the attorney about all the facts of the marriage, separation, and divorce. It will take significant time for the new attorney to catch up on the facts of the case. It will cost valuable time and money to scour the court record for appealable errors, and the new attorney will have little to no context or background.

If you change attorneys for an appeal, you will not only have to relive the stress and frustration of the litigation, but you will have to do so under strict appellate deadlines. If your trial attorney is also an appellate attorney, you can save significant time, frustration, and emotional toil because you do not have to start over with someone new.

What Can I Do If I Need an Appellate Lawyer, But My Trial Lawyer Does Not Specialize in Appeals?

You should always consider hiring an appellate specialist to represent you on appeal. Appellate practice is nuanced. Someone who is unfamiliar with the Rules and who is not accustomed to the type of research and writing demanded of an appellate attorney is likely to commit costly errors that cannot be undone.

The risks of relying on an inexperienced appellate attorney are far too great. Undoubtedly, hiring a new attorney who is unfamiliar with the nuances of your case adds another layer of stress and uncertainty to the process. But, if your trial attorney has had no appellate experience, you certainly do not want to be a guinea pig for the first appeal.

When faced with an appeal, many litigants flock to Atlanta believing large firms are the only ones with sufficient resources and experience to manage the appeal. Johnson Kraeuter, LLC, however, invests in the talent, expertise, and resources to provide superior representation in every court in this state, including the appellate courts.

On appeals, our firm consults Elizabeth Berenguer, Director of Upper Level Writing for Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, Campbell University. A nationally renowned scholar of cognitive rhetoric with 13 years of experience teaching appellate advocacy and six years in practice before teaching, Professor Berenguer is a reliable expert in appellate drafting, rhetoric, and persuasion. Johnson Kraeuter’s relationship with Professor Berenguer fulfills the Firm’s goals of providing small-firm personalization for its clients while achieving big-firm results at all stages of litigation.

Just this month, the Georgia Court of Appeals again ruled in favor of Johnson Kraeuter, LLC, in Winchell v. Winchell, A19A1531, A19A2119. Seasoned attorneys Professor Berenguer and Paul Johnson, managing partner, skillfully argued nuanced procedural and substantive issues to achieve justice for the client. This case adds to the impressive library of the Firm’s reported appellate opinions.

Make sure to check out next month’s blog post for more information about the appellate process. In the meantime, remember that appeals are extremely time sensitive. If you have been served with a notice of appeal or have received an order you believe does not comply with the law, make an appointment to speak with one of our attorneys today.

For more information about our legal services in Savannah, GA, contact Johnson Kraeuter, LLCtoday at (912) 421-2900.