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The Appellate Practice Committee strives to demystify the appellate process and provide educational resources through its programs and the work of its subcommittees. Committee members monitor current developments in case law, proposed amendments to procedural rules, and proposals for legislation. Subcommittees also work on appellate institutes, the National Law Student Appellate Advocacy contest, program planning, and numerous special assignments of interest to appellate practitioners.

Message from the Chairs

The 2023–2024 bar year for the Appellate Practice Committee is off to a great start. Cheyenne and I (along with some of our subcommittee chairs) attended the Litigation Section’s Fall Leadership Meeting in Minneapolis. It was a very productive meeting, and we returned with some exciting news about upcoming events. Those of you who have been members of the committee for some time know that we are proud of the wide range of benefits provided to our members. The committee has a well-earned reputation for presenting a variety of dynamic and informative programs at the Section Annual Conference, the ABA Annual Meeting, and other important Section conferences, as well as CLE and informal programs throughout the year. That will definitely continue this year.

We have already presented our first Roundtable of the year, “Tricks of the Trade: Do’s and Don’ts of Oral Argument,” with fascinating insights from a panel of current and former appellate judges. This Roundtable was a part of our ongoing “Tricks of the Trade” series, which also included a session on “Do’s and Don’ts of Appellate Brief Writing” from last April. We plan to continue the series with “Tricks of the Trade: Client Relations During an Appeal” early next year. The committee’s website, or your “Committee Update” emails in coming weeks, will provide details on how to register for this and other programs. Roundtables are virtual educational programs that address an array of appellate topics. They offer not only information, but a chance for our committee members to create and present a program. If you have an idea, a connection with an interesting speaker, or are interested in helping put on a Roundtable, please let us know, as we are always looking for opportunities to present more of these to our members throughout the year.

Last year, we presented a CLE webinar on the topic of the Major Question Doctrine, and discussed its potential impact on the future of the administrative state. Building on our success, we are planning to present another CLE webinar next spring on the differences in oral argument at various levels of appeal: intermediate and highest court, state, and federal. We will provide more information as the program develops. Make sure to register so that you can gain valuable information for your practice and fulfill your CLE requirements at the same time.

We will also be presenting an in-person CLE program at next year’s Section Annual Conference in Washington D.C., May 1–3, 2024. We are excited about this opportunity to show off the committee’s expertise to the entire Litigation Section and invite you to join us. While in D.C., we plan to hold a committee dinner open to all members (and prospective members). A staple of our annual get-together, we had a great turnout in last year’s Section Annual Conference in Atlanta in April and hope next year will be even better. Be sure to mark your calendar now, so that you can meet us in the nation’s capital next May.

In addition to our programming and conference offerings, we continue to publish quarterly the Appellate Practice Newsletter (or as some old-timers still refer to it, the Appellate Practice Journal). The newsletter contains short articles (750–2,500 words) on topics of interest to appellate practitioners, both substantive and procedural. Our committee’s publication recently won an award for the “Highest Engagement in a Newsletter” during the 2022–2023 Bar Year. Along with our great editors, Shaunta Knibb and Susan Yorke, each member of the committee deserves some of the credit for that award because it is based on members reading the newsletter when it arrives each quarter. Last year we exceeded a 50% opening rate. Of course, members would not read the newsletter if not for the informative articles it contains. If you are not a regular reader, please give the next issue a try. Back issues you may have missed are available on the committee’s website. The newsletter provides dual benefits, keeping our members informed of developments in appellate practice and affording our members, especially young lawyers, an opportunity to publish articles. If you would like to see your name in print, please contact Shaunta or Susan.

Furthermore, the committee provides other benefits from major books, such as A Practitioner’s Guide to Appellate Advocacy, to practice pointers and updates on interesting appellate cases, as well as our Sound Advice podcasts, that appear on our website. As a review of our past achievements and future plans demonstrate, the committee is dedicated to providing the best quality resources to our members.

If you would like to become more involved in the committee, please feel free to reach out to us. The best way is to volunteer with one of our subcommittees. Last year, the committee focused on reorganizing our subcommittee structure and welcomed a number of new subcommittee co-chairs. The new leadership team has been great, and they are eager to work with you during this new bar year. Please let us know what areas interest you, and we will get you involved right away. From personal experience, we can assure you it will be worth your while. We look forward to hearing from you and sharing all of the benefits of the committee in the weeks to come.

Tom Donlon
Cheyenne N. Chambers

Cochairs, Appellate Practice Committee


Our active subcommittees include:

  • Appellate Rules and Statutes
  • Appellate Practice Journal Board of Editors
  • Website
  • "Sound Advice"
  • Membership/Diversity
  • Professional Opportunities and Pro Bono Appeals
  • Programming
  • Young Lawyers