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How do I find a GREAT appellate lawyer? And make sure S/he's good?

San Mateo, CA |

I wanted to know how to scope out appellate lawyers and try to figure out the best one for this particular case. And, could I, and should I try to find a "student" appellate lawyer to work alongside the appellate lawyer? Wouldn't you say that two brains are better than one?

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Filed under: Appeals
Attorney answers 4


The best advice comes from people you trust, but in this area, you may not know people who've had to retain appellate counsel.

You can search on sites like Avvo, and look for years of experience and endorsements. Of course, this isn't fool-proof, you still need to interview them. I would not hire a student to help them--that's a little like hiring a nurse for a doctor--you need to find an attorney who can handle things like assistants. Lawyers who are part of firms can ask their colleagues in the firm, and all attorneys can ask colleagues outside their group.

You can also ask for example of cases they've argued to the court you will be appealing, and references for you to contact about their work.

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William Eadie

Disclaimer: I am a lawyer licensed in the State of Ohio only, and I am not your lawyer (unless you have been in my office and signed a contract). This communication is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney client relationship results. Please consult your own attorney for legal advice. This is for informational purposes only.


While it is not a measure of subjective greatness, you can find a certified appellate specialist. These certified lawyers have a minimum amount of appellate experience (more than me!) and have demonstrated competence in their specialties. This certification serves to inform you that the lawyer has been doing appellate work for a good while and know what’s what. This is a pretty good place to start:

Lawyer Referral Services Program (LRS)
The State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: 415-538-2250

Best of luck to you.

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California certifies appellate specialists who have experience in appellate law, have passed an exam and taken continuing education courses in appellate law. I am one and you can find others by looking at the State Bar's website. Generally speaking, a student doesn't help because he/she doesn't have the experience. Most experienced lawyers know colleagues who they can consult if they have a question.


I would recommend starting by looking at sites like and If you know any other attorneys, you might ask them to recommend an appellate attorney. If you have been working with a trial attorney on your case, for example, he or she might have a recommendation for an attorney that frequently handles appellate matters in your state.

When you contact appellate attorneys, you could ask them to summarize the experience they have (e.g., how many appeals they have been involved in, any relevant judicial law clerk experience, etc.).

Please click the "thumbs-up" icon at the bottom of this post if you found this helpful.

This response is not intended to be legal advice and there is no attorney/client relationship formed as a result of this response.