By the time this column is published, I hope we will be past the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic issues. But the virus is expected to linger, if not spike again, and its effects will not dissipate quickly. In recognition of these new challenges, the Council of Appellate Lawyers (CAL) has modified its usual activities to accommodate lawyers working from home and identified new opportunities to serve our members and the appellate bar as a whole. We hope you have found our efforts helpful and continue to do so.
Programming: Everyone is disappointed that the 2020 Appellate Judges Education Institute (AJEI) Summit was postponed, but we know this was the right decision to safeguard the health and welfare of our presenters, attendees, and sponsors. We look forward to seeing everyone at the same place (Austin, Texas) at almost the same time next year (November 11-14, 2021). CAL will continue to work with AJEI, the Council of Appellate Staff Attorneys (CASA), and the National Judicial College (NJC) to make the 2021 Summit the best ever, full of the top-notch programming and opportunities for informal exchanges that appellate judges, staff attorneys, and lawyers have come to expect.
In the interim, we are committed to presenting other programming of value to appellate lawyers in virtual forms. Our May CLE webinar on Appellate Advocacy in the Age of COVID-19 was full of tips from judges, an appellate clerk, and practitioners on how to conduct and present video arguments. The webinar was free to ABA members and is still available on demand. Many thanks to our Programming Chair Jill Wheaton for organizing this excellent program on short notice. We are planning additional webinars on other practical topics; Jill welcomes ideas and help.
Publications: The unavailability of in-person oral argument also sparked a special edition of CAL’s newsletter Appellate Issues with insightful articles on how to present both audio and video arguments and a report on our video argument webinar. Editor Nancy Olson is now soliciting articles and editing assistance for our Summer edition.
Work continues on our update of CAL’s Appellate Practice Compendium, an insider’s guide to appellate practice in every state and federal jurisdiction in the nation. Contact me to assist on this extensive project; we can use more help!
State Chairs: Our State Chairs Committee is now more than 20 states strong and still growing. State Chairs serve as liaisons between CAL and state and local appellate bars and foster coordination among different bar groups, which benefits the entire appellate bar. Reach out to Committee Chairs Richard Kraus, Gretchen Harris Sperry, and Cindy Timms with recommendations for additional State Chairs or to volunteer.
Membership: With the upcoming academic year likely to involve more online activities, CAL is planning to offer remote support to law school appellate clinics and moot court programs. Let Sarah Schrup know if you have law school connections or other ideas on how we can help.
CAL committees focused on specific practice types or subjects are expanding. Pro Bono Chair David Timchak, Rules Chair Karen Precella, and Government and Public Service Lawyers Chair Nancy Olson want to hear from anyone interested in joining their committees or spearheading a new project. Additionally, we are organizing groups for solo and small firm lawyers, in-house counsel, plaintiffs’ counsel, and young lawyers. To get involved, contact me or our Membership Chairs George Abele and Ben Cooper.
Communications: Members can keep up to date on CAL’s activities and the resources available to them through email, LinkedIn, Connect messages, and our website. Reach out to our Website and Social Media Chair Matt Friedlander with any announcements or suggestions on how to improve our communications.
I’m grateful to the CAL Board members and Committee Chairs as well as our Conference Manager Amanda Banninga and the rest of the JD Staff for everything they do to advance our mission to improve appellate advocacy and justice. Please consider joining the country’s first and only national bench-bar appellate organization as we move forward, and contact me with any questions or suggestions.