Appellate representation is a central component of Sutherland’s litigation practice, involving everything from securing basic constitutional rights to interpreting esoteric regulatory and tax issues. Since 1938, when Sutherland founding partner Judge Elbert P. Tuttle helped establish the right to counsel in criminal cases (in Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458), our lawyers have been lead counsel in significant appellate cases.
Appellate practice demands rigorous advocacy skills, including an ability to distill complex facts and specialized substantive law into organized and compelling arguments that address the issues important to appellate courts. Success on appeal requires recognizing the outcome-determinative issues and presenting those issues effectively. Sutherland’s track record shows our lawyers’ essential talent and experience in successful appellate presentation.
Sutherland’s appellate team is distinguished by deep industry knowledge of our clients and cases, combined with extensive experience before federal and state appellate courts. In the past five years alone, we represented clients in appeals involving antitrust, telecommunications, land use, tax, energy, franchising and distribution, professional liability, securities law, insurance law, education, employment, class actions, construction, real property, and many other substantive areas. These diverse subject matters included appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court, every federal circuit and many state appellate courts.
Many Sutherland attorneys began their legal careers as clerks to federal and state appellate judges, adding invaluable experience and insight to their current work before these same courts. Our attorneys have clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court, every federal circuit, and the highest courts in Alaska, Florida, Georgia and Texas.
Sutherland’s appellate attorneys also provide valuable assistance to clients during trial court proceedings. Working closely as part of the trial team, appellate attorneys develop legal theories, draft complex motions and jury charges, ensure preservation of the record for appeal, and handle interlocutory appeals and mandamus proceedings that arise during trial court litigation. Most of our appellate attorneys are also experienced trial lawyers who bring exceptional skills to help clients win in the trial courts and on appeal.
Our Amicus Curiae Practice
We often submit briefs to appellate courts on behalf of amicus curiae, usually associations or groups who want their interests to be represented in precedent-setting appeals. An effective amicus brief does not simply echo or restate arguments made in briefing submitted by a party. Instead, the useful amicus brief—one likely to be considered by the court—brings the broader context and policy implications of the decision at hand to the court’s attention. The “Brandeis Brief,” which presents economic and other social science data bearing on an issue before the court, often achieves the most effective results. A strong understanding of our clients’ businesses and industries enables us to identify key policy issues and arguments for influential amicus curiae briefs.
© 2013 Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP