So what's doing in the appellate world?
1. Effective Appellate Advocacy
On Friday, I will be toddling off to D.C. to go to what looks like a good half-day conference on Effective Appellate Advocacy, sponsored by the Institute of Judicial Administration, the Edward Coke Appellate Inn of Court and AAAL. [http://www.law.nyu.edu/centers/judicial/programs/EffectiveAppellateAdvocacy/index.htm]
A number of judges from the federal appellate courts will be speaking on various issues like what should be in the statement of the case, argument summary, argument and conclusion; how to prepare for oral argument, how to argue, and oral argument techniques. And it's not pricey – $100.
I will of course provide a report anon.
DRI has an excellent appellate conference every other year, and this year it's in Boston, June 21-22. [http://dri.org/Event/20120010] Aside from a very good overall agenda, including presentations from in-house counsel and on marketing, the extra benefit this year is that yours truly will be arguing one side of the mock oral argument in front CJ Lynch, Judge Hall of the Second Circuit and Judge Steele of the Delaware Supreme Court. If that doesn't sell it to you, I don't know what will.
The argument will be of a case argued this term in the U.S. Supreme Court, and the side I am arguing lost (big time) [http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/10-879.pdf]. So it's time to get creative!
Finally, the Spring edition of Appellate Issues has arrived from the Council of Appellate Lawyers, with a focus on written advocacy.
It's got lots of good materials in it, for example, how to write an intro that doesn't rate high on the snooze-o-meter, with some nice concrete examples.
Another article is on themes – this is really important. You really need a theme to glue your appeal together. One of the most interesting articles is on something I've blogged on, how to draft briefs that will be read on e-tablets, and how briefs are read differently on them. If you didn't think briefs need theme and structure before, it's even more critical when the text is lit up on a screen. Your brain literally reads differently as a physical matter, so the drafter has to respond. The article is a follow up to a seminar presentation I attended, as is another article summarizing one of the presentations from judges giving their general tips.
One point that the e-tablet article notes is that tablets typically don't need a lot of turn on time – it's there ready when you are, and easy to take with you. So your reader may be reading your brief on the road, and, I would add, in bits. This means bookmark, and use short ones! Footnotes are really difficult to read on tablets, too, while hyperlinks are the way to go (but you'd better be allowed to do it – you can in the First Circuit, see Local rule 32.0). There are two separate articles on hyperlinks, with another article showing how to use timelines and visuals to replace or enhance text.
In sum, while some rules are eternal and universal, how you apply them must fit in an evolving technological environment. Just as the oral argument had to change radically from the days of Daniel Webster orating, so must the brief become more visually striking and focused.