October 09, 2020 Council of Appellate Lawyers

CAL Chair's Column

By Deena Jo Schneider, Philadelphia, PA

What a challenging year this has been!  Due to a global pandemic, we’ve all had to learn to multitask from wherever we are, while dealing with serious illness, supporting essential workers, and sorting through conflicting views on how to function in our new abnormal.  Simultaneously, we’ve been jarred by repeated reminders that some groups are not only more adversely affected by COVID-19 but still subject to disparate treatment in our justice system – and that the peace and prosperity many of us took for granted are more fragile than we thought.  We hope you’ve benefited from CAL’s adjustment of its program and publication content, increased remote offerings, and work with the JD, AJC, and CASA to support appellate lawyers, judges, and courts through these difficult times.

Programming:  After postponing the 2020 Appellate Judges Education Institute (AJEI) Summit (we hope to see you in Austin November 11-14, 2021!), CAL has collaborated with AJEI and the National Judicial College (NJC) to develop alternate virtual programming for this fall.  Dean Chemerinsky is presenting his deservedly famous Supreme Court review in November, and another program on implicit bias in the appellate arena is planned.  CAL is also working on additional virtual programming dealing with pandemic concerns and other appellate matters.  We are helping AJC to create a program on litigation over public health and safety orders, and planning a series on practice in each federal circuit and a program on the basic nuts and bolts of handling an appeal.  Contact Programming Chair Jill Wheaton to assist – and watch for program announcements.

Publications:  Editor Nancy Olson is working on the fall edition of our Appellate Issues newsletter and always welcomes contributions or help with editing.  And I am recruiting assistance with the update of our Appellate Practice Compendium, which provides insider’s tips on appellate practice in every state and federal jurisdiction in the nation. 

State Chairs serve as liaisons and foster coordination among CAL and state and local appellate bars.  Our Committee is now 40+ strong and hopes to cover every state by year-end.  Contact Co-Chairs Richard Kraus, Gretchen Harris Sperry, and Cindy Timms with additional suggestions; Co-State Chairs are welcome.    

Pro Bono:  Contact new Co-Chairs Arleigh Helfer and David Timchak to add to or assist in compiling a national list of appellate pro bono lawyers, programs, resources, and suggested best practices to encourage practitioners and courts to provide more pro bono representation either individually or through organized programs.    

Solo and Small Practice Lawyers: Contact new Chair Ginny McMichael to network and share information, advice, and best practices with other similarly situated appellate lawyers.

Government and Public Service:  Contact Chair Nancy Olson with ideas for a program or project geared to these special forms of appellate practice.    

Rules:  Contact Chair Karen Precella if you enjoy suggesting or commenting on new proposed appellate rules. 

Law Schools:  Contact Sarah Schrup or me to help offer remote support to law school appellate clinics and moot court programs.  As online education increases, we also hope to sponsor a writing competition.      

To join CAL groups that are being organized for in-house counsel, plaintiffs’ counsel, and young lawyers, contact me or Membership Co-Chairs George Abele and Ben Cooper.  Contact Website and Social Media Chair Matt Friedlander to help with or suggest improvements to CAL’s presence on LinkedIn, Connect, and our website.      

Please watch for a notice about a virtual Annual Meeting this fall at which we will elect new officers and Board members.  This is my last column as CAL Chair.  It has been my great honor and pleasure to serve this wonderful group.  As I sign off, I want to acknowledge the guidance and support I’ve received from past CAL Chairs, especially David Tennant; my fellow officers Mark Kressel and Brian Miller; our Board members and Committee Chairs; the leaders of the JD, AJC, and AJEI; and our Conference Manager Amanda Banninga, JD Director Tori Jo Wible, and the rest of the JD staff.  Please join me in thanking them for all they do.  And if you are not currently a member, do join the country’s first and only national bench-bar appellate organization and help us in our mission to improve the administration of justice and the practice of appellate law. 

Deena Jo Schneider

Deena Jo Schneider

2019-2020 Council of Appellate Lawyers Chair