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July 06, 2021 Council of Appellate Lawyers

CAL Chair's Column

By Brian Miller, Corpus Christi, TX

With virtual roundtables, a newsletter, and a roster of state chairs added to the Council of Appellate Lawyers’ endeavors, CAL is prepared to leave the pandemic stronger than when we entered it. We look forward to resuming in-person events with the Appellate Judges Education Institute Summit this November 11 to 14 in Austin.

AJEI Summit

Over 400 appellate lawyers and judges attended the 2019 AJEI Summit in Washington, D.C. We look forward to a similar turnout this November.

The Summit is no “nuts-and-bolts” seminar. We cannot do that with an audience that includes appellate lawyers and judges from coast to coast and places beyond. Consider the Summit an “Appellate Nerdfest” or an “Appellate-palooza,” because Summit programs will inform you, entertain you, and challenge you, even if you are an experienced appellate lawyer.

A sample of the program topics includes: incorporating storytelling techniques into your writing; ethical implications of social media and other technology on appellate practice; the effect of electronic documents on how appellate judges do their work; strategies for certifying questions to state supreme courts; corporate counsel’s views of and involvement in the appellate process; courage in advocacy and judging; understanding the Supreme Court’s shadow docket; and preventing wrongful convictions by ensuring the reliability of forensic evidence.

The Summit will also have its usual features, such as the annual Supreme Court civil and criminal-law updates from Erwin Chemerinsky (Dean of the University of California—Berkeley  School of Law), a panel of Supreme Court practitioners and scholars discussing the high court’s upcoming term, and social events each evening.

By the time you read this, registration for the Summit should be open. Please visit the 2021 AJEI Summit webpage for more information.

ABA Annual Meeting

Although CAL does not have an in-person event at this year’s ABA Annual Meeting, we encourage you to check out the online offerings for registrants.

Please join us at the Judicial Division’s online reception on Thursday, August 5, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Central Time. If you’re new to Division activities, find me or another CAL board member in the virtual reception hall, and we’ll show you around and introduce you to other appellate lawyers and to the appellate judges in attendance. (Please visit  our About Us page for a list of board members.)

As part of the Division’s Appellate Judges Conference, CAL is assisting the AJC with its CLE program on judicial review of emergency public-health orders. This program – part of the Annual Meeting’s Showcase series – is tentatively scheduled for Friday, August 6, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Central time. Please watch your email inbox for more information, and please attend!

Virtual roundtables

Our new Virtual Roundtable series is off to a great start! We had outstanding attendance for our small-group discussions of “What Makes a Sharp-Dressed Brief” on April 9 and of “Preparing for Oral Argument – The Final Countdown” on June 3.

Our Virtual Roundtables provide an opportunity to learn from your peers, share what has worked for you, and develop a nationwide network of appellate colleagues. We will announce our next Virtual Roundtable program soon.

Newsletter and ABA Connect

We hope that all CAL members are receiving our newsletter, which we have been sending every four to six weeks. If you have not received the newsletter, please send me an email at [email protected]. We have learned that some lawyers are not receiving CAL communications for various (and sometimes odd) reasons, and we can help you resolve any such problem.

We need authors for short (200 to 300 word) articles for the newsletter and for longer articles for our other periodical Appellate Issues. If you want to write for either publication, please contact the newsletter editor Devin Dolive or Appellate Issues editor Nancy Olson.

ABA Connect is another means for providing notice to you of upcoming events. Please check your ABA Connect settings to make sure that you are part of the CAL “community” and that you are receiving at least the daily digest of messages.

Pro bono manual

CAL is updating its Manual on Pro Bono Appeals Programs. We last updated this valuable resource in 2017. David Timchak and Arleigh Helfer, the chairs of CAL’s Pro Bono Committee, are leading this effort. We need help revising existing descriptions of state appellate pro bono programs and adding descriptions of new programs. If you want to help with this effort, please email David or Arleigh.

Brian Miller

Brian Miller

2020-2021 Council of Appellate Lawyers Chair