Archives: Appellate Practice

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Arbitration in Attorney Fee Agreements After Royston v. Lopez

Brandy Wingate Voss
I had the pleasure of briefing and presenting argument to the Texas Supreme Court in Royston, Rayzor, Vickery & Williams, LLP v. Lopez (Nos. 13–1026 and 14–0109, opinion available here), a case dealing with the enforceability of arbitration clauses between attorneys and clients. Earlier this week, I participated in a webcast about the case titled “Engagement Letters/Arbitration … Continue Reading

Texas MDLs and Appellate Lawyers

Brandy Wingate Voss
Last week, I spoke at TexasBarCLE’s Advanced Civil Appellate Practice Course about transfer proceedings before the Texas Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. For anyone interested, my presentation slides appear at the end of this post. MDLs may not seem all that relevant to appellate practice at first blush, but it is important for appellate lawyers … Continue Reading

An Appellate Lawyer Makes a Trial Team Better

D. Todd Smith
A while back, the folks at Texas Lawyer invited me to submit an article on how appellate counsel may play a supporting role in the trial court. The article is now available online and will appear in next week’s print edition. In the article, I focus on four areas in which an appellate lawyer can support … Continue Reading

As Summer Ends, a New Appellate Season Begins

D. Todd Smith
With the sun setting on summer, early September is shaping up to be a busy time for Texas appellate practitioners and court watchers. Texas Supreme Court Returns from Summer Recess Although the Texas Supreme Court will issue orders every Friday in August and hold conference late in the month, it is caught up on opinions … Continue Reading

Appellate Practice and Procedure Lesson 8: Tips and Strategies for Marketing an Appellate Practice

D. Todd Smith
This post features the video and slides for the eighth and final lecture in my Appellate Practice and Procedure course. The presentation appears after the jump. Appellate law can be a very difficult practice area to break into. Because legal writing ability is an absolute necessity, those with law review and judicial clerkship experience have … Continue Reading

Short-Citing to the Record in the Fifth Circuit

D. Todd Smith
I received a copy of this letter in one of my cases: What’s wrong with using the short citation form “id.” when citing the record? As I wrote about here, the Fifth Circuit recently standardized the format for citing electronic official records on appeal to require the short form “ROA” followed by volume and page. The … Continue Reading

What a Legal-Writing Professor Wishes He’d Known as a New Lawyer

D. Todd Smith
In this month’s Austin Lawyer, UT Law Professor Wayne Schiess published a short piece (also available here) pointing out four things he wishes he’d known about legal writing when he finished law school. I was struck by his first three points. Law Is a Writing Profession Professor Schiess posits that lawyers are professional writers rather … Continue Reading

Appellate Practice and Procedure Lesson 4: Handling an Appeal—Preparing Briefs (Part 1)

D. Todd Smith
This post features the video and slidedeck for the fourth lecture in my Appellate Practice and Procedure course, which I introduced here. The presentation appears after the jump. Oral argument is more glamorous, but preparing briefs is the most important task in any appeal. This session overviews the basics of appellate brief-writing and then focuses … Continue Reading

Appellate Practice and Procedure Lesson 2: How Appellate Lawyers Bring Value at the Trial Court Level

D. Todd Smith
This post features the video and slidedeck for the second lecture in my Appellate Practice and Procedure course, which I introduced here. The presentation appears after the jump. This is one of my favorite topics in the series. Getting involved in a case early creates opportunities for appellate lawyers to influence decisions that can make … Continue Reading

Mardi Gras or Not: When in New Orleans for Oral Argument, Where Should I Stay and Eat?

D. Todd Smith
With Fat Tuesday having passed, the timing seems right to consider lodging and restaurant recommendations for those who occasionally venture to New Orleans for Fifth Circuit oral arguments. When I asked the 607 members of the Texas Appellate Law LinkedIn Group about their preferences, the response was overwhelming. The information was so helpful that I couldn’t … Continue Reading

Appellate Practice and Procedure Course to Be Released Online

D. Todd Smith
Back in 2009, I agreed to teach Appellate Practice and Procedure at Solo Practice University, a web-based educational and professional networking community where faculty from across the country teach lawyers and law students how to practice law. I then planned and self-produced a series of eight video lectures, which remain available at SPU with a … Continue Reading

Tips for Superseding Travis County District Court Judgments

D. Todd Smith
Along with retiring Chief Deputy Clerk Michelle Brinkman, I spoke to the Austin Bar Civil Appellate Section today on “Tips for Superseding Travis County District Court Judgments.” New Travis County District Clerk Velva Price and incoming Chief Deputy Clerk Caroline Legette—both of whom are lawyers—attended the luncheon as Section guests. As a former Chair of … Continue Reading

Old-School Legal Researchers: ThomsonWest Is Shuttering Westlaw Classic—and Soon

D. Todd Smith
It’s been five years since ThomsonReuters (then ThomsonWest) launched WestlawNext and re-branded the legal research database many lawyers grew up on as “Westlaw Classic.” I received notice yesterday that my firm’s access to the old version will cease at the end of March, leaving WestlawNext as the only option available under our contract. This is … Continue Reading

Are Lawyer-Hyperlinked Briefs Headed for Extinction?

D. Todd Smith
When used appropriately, hyperlinks to specific portions of the record or to on-point authorities can be a very effective tool in the appellate lawyer’s arsenal. But are recent developments enhancing that tool or effectively taking it away? Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit standardized the format for citing electronic official … Continue Reading

Registration Open for 28th Annual Advanced Civil Appellate Practice Course

D. Todd Smith
The State Bar Appellate Section and Texas Bar CLE are co-sponsoring the 28th Annual Advanced Civil Appellate Practice Course, which will take place September 4-5, 2014 here in Austin.  Related events are the popular Civil Appellate Practice 101 course on September 3 and the Section’s annual meeting on September 4, to be followed by a reception honoring the judiciary. … Continue Reading

SCOTX: Postjudgment Interest—All Accrual Dates Are Not Created Equal

Maitreya Tomlinson
Statutes that appear clear are oft fraught with unanswered questions. This is unsurprising, as drafters cannot anticipate every scenario when crafting legislation. Falling into that vein, last week, the Texas Supreme Court decided a previously unaddressed question regarding the accrual date of postjudgment interest under the Texas Finance Code. In Long v. Castle Texas Production … Continue Reading

How to Handle Cross-Appeals

D. Todd Smith
Yesterday afternoon, I spoke at the Advanced Civil Appellate Practice Course, an annual program sponsored by TexasBarCLE and the State Bar Appellate Section. My topic was “How to Handle Cross-Appeals.” I promised the attendees that I would make my paper and slides available over the web. Clicking the links should open each one in a … Continue Reading

It’s That Time of (the Fiscal) Year

D. Todd Smith
Clients frequently ask appellate lawyers, “How long until the court makes a decision?” It’s a question we all struggle with because the number of variables is too great to allow anything but a semi-educated guess. The period is measured in months, if not years. The fiscal year for Texas appellate courts ends on August 31. … Continue Reading

What Do “The Last Days of Big Law” Mean for Boutique Firms?

D. Todd Smith
Noam Scheiber’s recent New Republic article, “The Last Days of Big Law,” has been buzzing over my social media stream for the past week or so. It’s a pretty sobering read, although it hasn’t gone uncriticized. For example, in “Don’t Bury Big Law Just Yet,” The American Lawyer‘s Robin Sparkman wrote that “[r]umors of [the giant law … Continue Reading