chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
February 16, 2024 Appellate Judges Conference

Council of Appellate Lawyers Chair's Column

By Jill Wheaton, Ann Arbor, MI

The Council of Appellate Lawyers (CAL) is excited to start a new year. I am honored to follow my predecessor chair, Kirsten Castaneda, who led us through a productive 2023. I am fortunate to have an outstanding Chair-Elect, Gretchen Sperry, and an excellent Executive Board. We had many successes in 2023, and we hope for even more in 2024.


CAL continued its “Riding the Circuits” series of webinars that inform members about the practice of law in the federal appellate courts. Although these courts generally follow the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, each has its own preferred (and sometimes unique) local practices. Each program in this series focuses on a specific circuit, with judges and clerks from that circuit who serve as panelists. To date, we have covered the Third, Sixth and Ninth Circuits. We will continue this popular series in 2024, tentatively looking to cover the Fifth and Eighth Circuits. 

Along the same lines, there are often significant differences within appellate practices in the various state courts. We therefore started another ongoing series of programs entitled “Traps for Appellate Out-of-Towners,” aimed at attorneys practicing in a neighboring or otherwise new-to-them jurisdiction. Tips for practice in California, Arizona and Nevada were provided in our West Coast program, and for Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana in our Mountain States program. In 2024, we will continue this series, moving eastward across the country.

CAL recently concluded a three-part “How to Build an Appellate Practice” program, with tips on how practitioners can create and promote a specialty appellate practice. That program is available for CAL members to view online.  Last but not least, CAL hosted “brown-bag lunch” online discussions, which were informal forums for attendees to discuss whatever appellate issues they wanted.

Scott Dixler has agreed to continue as chair of CAL’s Programming Committee in 2024. One of that committee’s goals is to co-sponsor programs with other ABA groups, continue the brown-bag lunches and “series” programs discussed above, and develop other programs of interest to our members. We are always open to suggestions.

The November 2023 Appellate Judges Education Institute Summit was a resounding success. Of the many programs presented, a large percentage were ideas originally proposed by CAL, were organized by CAL members, or had CAL members as panelists. With CAL playing a substantial role in planning and executing the Summit, we have acknowledged that our Summit Committee needs more than one chairperson. For 2024, both Jonathan Potter and John Baker have agreed to serve as the CAL Summit Coordinators. We look forward to another excellent program this November 14 to 17 in Boston. 

Jill Wheaton

2023-2024 Chair, AJC Council of Appellate Lawyers

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.