f Jonathon Moseley »» Attorney at Law


You may not plan on appealing your client's case, but the opposing party may have other ideas. Your client thinks the judge got it wrong. Or you win the case, but the other side wants to take your client's victory away from you... just when you thought it was over.

Law firm partners should focus on the types of cases which are most familiar, that you regularly handle, for efficiency, profitability, and effectiveness. You can be doing your own work on other revenue-generating cases while various parts of the work are being done for you. You can earn net positive billings by subcontracting this work or generate additional billable hours from your work reviewing, guiding, and approving the drafts of briefs.

I write appellate briefs to assist law firms and amicus curiae briefs for interested organizations as legal services. I focus on assisting law firms that do not have their own in-house appellate practice, such as small law firms and solo attorneys, or public interest organizations filing Amicus Curiae briefs.

Some big law firms have in-house appeal units. But if your law firm could use some back-up handling the sudden surge of workload that an unexpected appeal can cause -- on very short turn-around times -- let's talk. I am licensed in Virginia and in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. In other States, I will support a locally-licensed attorney in preparing briefs and motions for their review and signature.

I will provide examples of my work. Some were written for other attorneys, who will confirm that I did the work.
     CLICK HERE to see an example of one of my briefs and associated motions to the Court of Appeals of Virginia
     CLICK HERE to see the Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court for Sheriff Joe Arpaio that I wrote with attorney Larry Klayman
     CLICK HERE to see the Amicus Curiae (Friend of the Court) brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Sheriff Joe Arpaio that I wrote with attorney Larry Klayman

The need to appeal can arise unexpectedly, at an inconvenient time in the law firm's work schedule. Cases that balloon in your schedule, taking more time than you thought, can really disrupt your planning and time management. Suddenly you are over-stretched. In fact, the reality of a small firm is that projects that inflate beyond expectations can jeopardize the ability of a lawyer to keep up with responsibilities to all of his or her other clients.

Keep in mind: Other appellate attorneys may have a conflict of interest. Or they may already be maxed out in their work schedule. You may imagine you have a solution. But do you have a "Plan B" if they are not available?

You may need an appellate attorney who is available on short notice who can give you beyond full-time effort without having a conflicting work load.

So, yes, there may be other appellate law firms. But maybe they won't be available for you when you need them.

So, yes, you need to print this page out and keep it in your files.

Appellate deadlines are unforgiving and brutal. Some actions must be taken in the first 30, 60, and 90 days. Let's face it: Clients don't typically sign up with an attorney right away but not until near the end of the time period. My work has often focused on intensive work and shorter-than-usual turn-around times. Appellate work sometimes requires working long days on a crash basis to get the job done.

Remember that you have to allow time for printing the briefs and having them bound as booklets. Suppose you get to the printer with hours to spare and find the printer has a long line of other jobs ahead of yours? People forget that you usually have to create the "Excerpt of the Record" or "Appendix" of key documents to be bound in booklets at the same time, and then cross-reference to the page numbers in citations within the brief itself. Meeting deadlines is tougher than it sounds and requires being fully aware of all of the work that will be required.

Maybe your law firm should split up the work, with you doing the key steps from the substance you understand from conducting the trial in real time, and having my support doing additional work to get it all done.

I also provide an a-la-carte menu of specific tasks related to planning for, preparing, and filing an appeal. My appellate services can be customized to fit your needs, to either leave certain tasks to you or to fulfill those tasks for you, as you decide is best. (You may want to start with a preliminary review to evaluate the likelihood of successfully pursuing an appeal.)

CLICK HERE to study my CHECK LIST of tasks required in an appeal to consider if your law firm wants to perform each task in-house or subcontract a task for my help.

Before diving in you may want only a preliminary review to give a formal, legal assessment of the chances for success on appeal and the work involved. This will require only a $1,500 advance deposit, and most of that work will be re-useable if you decide to proceed with a full appeal.

Let's discuss your plans as early as possible and see how I can help you.

But whatever you do, don't wait. You have have very little time to prepare the record, the appendix (excerpt of the record), and appeal briefs. By the time you start thinking about an appeal, you are almost out of time already. Call immediately.

For cases in Virginia, where I am licensed as an attorney, I can directly file briefs in Virginia's appellate courts, even take the lead on the appeal, and argue the case before the Virginia Court of Appeals, Supreme Court of Appeals, or Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (admission in progress).

Outside Virginia, in other States, I usually work on appeals directly under the lawyer who tried the case in the trial court. Working for the trial attorney, I can prepare appeal briefs nationwide where a local attorney on the case can sign and file the briefs.

Full services would normally include analyzing the trial court's final order(s) and other orders appealed from, reviewing the trial record, identifying the strongest issues for appeal, developing, strategizing, and framing the questions presented, legal research determining the viability and strength of each question presented identified, legal research for precedents in support of arguments, legal and appellate strategy, creating and drafting argument in support of each question presented, review of formatting rules for the relevant jurisdiction, and drafting briefs for your final review.

People often forget that the Appendix or Excerpt of the Record of selected, relevant documents is typically due simultaneously with the opening brief. If you are on the Appellee side, you must quickly determine if your opponent has left out important documents that you need to include in the Appendix or Excerpt of the Record. Because of the need to cite to the Appendix, you must do all of this work simultaneously.

My work can include assembling the Appendix (Excerpt of the Record) both in terms of the substance of determining relevant documents, review of the deadlines, and in formatting and assembly as required by the rules of the jurisdiction. That includes creating the digital version according to each court's requirements. I do much of printing and booklet binding in-house, which is lower cost, but more importantly under my control for meeting deadlines and not risking availability of outside vendors. You don't need those variables. You don't want to miss a deadline because the printer is too busy.

Appeals courts are much stricter with formatting, legal argument, citations, support from the record, and other rules. Sanctions for improperly drafted or submitted briefs, appendices, or motions are more common in appellate courts. An attorney familiar with appeals is better than mixing the occasional appeal with normal litigation trial practice.

Most law firms which do appeals typically demand at least $20,000 as a retainer and project as much as $50,000 total cost, I've even heard of an $80,000 minimum starting retainer being demanded.

I can do the typical appeal usually for around $10,000 to $15,000, including the costs of printing and binding briefs and document booklets (but the court reporter's transcripts would cost extra aside from this).

Surprisingly affordable, even after 20 years of practice following work in the Federal government and a Finance undergraduate degree. I charge $175 per billable hour "wholesale" to law firms -- attorney to attorney. For the paralegal work of assembling documents, filing, mailing, printing and binding briefs and the Appendix, organizing documents into the Appendix, etc. a $45 per hour paralegal fee is charged.

However, any appeal is intensive work for anyone. Your client should budget at least $10,000, with more than 70 to 100 billable hours being likely.

However, I am unusually flexible -- unlike many attorneys -- in working with you. If clients or a law firm want to do some of the work, such as searching for page citations in transcripts, I can divide the work. However, candidly, many clients who want to do some of the work don't actually follow up. But I am willing to try. Clients are all different. They have different expectations and desires.

Note: These budgeted amounts do not include the costs paid to the court reporter(s) for transcripts.

An advance deposit (retainer) of $7,500 is needed to begin, especially due to the short time-line of the work and need for collecting payment.

In contrast to extremely expensive legal printing firms, I have typeset briefs including in U.S. Supreme Court booklet format, and arranged printing with correct covers, page size, binding and formats at low cost. I am experienced in arranging the printing of appeal briefs as booklets with the proper color-coded covers, including for the U.S. Supreme Court, and preparing the appendix of the record including as assembled and booklets and digital versions on CD-ROM's according to the technical requirements of the appellate courts. (Costs of printing are of course extra, payable separately.)

I can provide examples of my work and a list of appeals I have worked on and references. I have a wide variety of litigation experience in Virginia and federal courts.

Of course, the time period from final order to filing the appellate brief is the most dangerous period where many unrecoverable mistakes can be made. A smooth hand-over is very important. The transition and hand-off from the end of the case in the trial court, the filing of the Notice of Appeal, and filing of a court reporter's transcript are very important and all these steps have to be handled very carefully.

If I am called in early, immediately after the final judgment, I can assist in making sure that all of the technical requirements are handled properly in the trial court.

  WHAT'S YOUR NEXT STEP?   Call me at (703) 656-1230 Eastern Standard Time time zone, 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM. Fax: (703) 783-0449. Contact@JonMoseley.com

If you're the client, print out this letter and give to your attorney. Share with attorneys you know