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January 31, 2022 Appellate Judges Conference

Council of Appellate Lawyers Chair's Column

By Mr. Mark A. Kressel, Los Angeles, CA

Looking Ahead

My theme for the coming CAL year is “the return to the new normal.”  Recent improvements in public health mean we can finally begin returning to bench and bar activities much as we knew them before the pandemic.  But even trying to return to normal presents its own challenges, such as using Zoom for those who cannot attend in person, and accommodating social distancing at live events.  Furthermore, some things that were born of necessity during the pandemic, such as regular virtual programming, offer benefits to our members that make them worth continuing even as we resume our pre-pandemic lives.  No matter what shape the new normal takes, CAL looks forward to continuing to serve our members in this unique time.

I’d like to thank Brian Miller for his leadership and service last year as CAL Chair and for the many new initiatives and programs he added to CAL’s line-up.  These include a new newsletter, new Virtual Roundtables, and increased web- and Zoom-based programming, including a virtual panel on Appellate Mediation.

As CAL chair, I look forward to collaborating with our other officers, Chair-Elect Kirsten Castañeda and Secretary Jill Wheaton, as well as our board members, committee chairs, and committee members.  I look forward to working together with you all and to seeing you in person again!

The AJEI Summit – Next Stop, Scottsdale

In November, CAL helped host a triumphant Appellate Judges Education Institute (AJEI) Summit in Austin, Texas—in person!

After a year stuck on Zooms, webinars, and teleconferences, it felt fantastic to finally be together again in the same place.  And what a place to be—Austin delivered with amazing food, local music, and plenty of Texas charm.  The Summit also continued its tradition of delivering best-in-class programming focused exclusively on issues of interest to the appellate bench and bar. We estimate there were at least 350 attendees, including appellate judicial officers from federal and state courts around the country.

Due to the pandemic, this particular Summit was two years in the making, and we are indebted to both Brian Miller, last year’s CAL Chair, and his predecessor, Chair Deena Schneider, for bringing this event to fruition despite the many challenges and surprises we all experienced over these past 20 months.

Hard as it is to believe, planning is already underway for the 2022 Summit, which will be on November 10-13, in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Helping CAL prepare for the 2022 Summit—whether by organizing programs, assisting with fundraising and sponsorships, or helping our Phoenix-area host committee—is a great way to become involved with CAL.

Programming Committee

This year saw the growth of our virtual programming.  We held several Zoom-based “virtual roundtables,” informal forums where anyone could offer their thoughts on topics such as brief style, formatting issues, and funny stories from the appellate courtroom.  We also began a new online program series called “Riding the Circuits,” in which judges and practitioners from an individual federal appellate circuit discuss procedural and practice issues.  Our first “Riding the Circuits” program focused on the Ninth Circuit.

This coming year, we hope to continue expanding our program offerings.  Our Programming Committee is also a great way to get involved with CAL.

State Chairs Committee

Another achievement this year was the growth of our State Chairs Committee.  We have assembled an accomplished and dynamic group of leading appellate practitioners from every state in the Union.  The group has already become a great resource for practice pointers and referrals.

Other Committees and Publications

There are many other ways to get involved with CAL, and we hope you’ll consider joining us.  We continue to publish our periodical Appellate Issues and a regular newsletter.  We are always on the lookout for new content contributors and new editors.

This year, our Pro Bono Committee will be undertaking a major effort to update our Pro Bono Manual, a resource for appellate courts around the country looking to develop a pro bono program.  Our other committees include: Appellate Rules; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Government Lawyers; Membership; and Solo & Small Practice.

If you’d like to get involved with any of our committees or publications, contact Amanda Banninga and she will direct your inquiry.

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