Finding a Good Family Law Appeals Attorney
By Eduardo J. Mejias, Florida Family Law Appeals Attorney
Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2005
AAA Family Law Can Represent You In Family Law Appeals Anywhere In Florida
Why Few Family Law Attorneys Do Appellate Work
Few family law clients give one moment of thought about looking for an a family law appeals attorney until they are saddled with an unfavorable final judgment. This is understandable, given the amount of focus that a trial-level family law case requires. Plus, it is easy to assume that your trial family lawyer will gladly handle an appeal of your final judgment.
Truth be told, only a low proportion of family law attorneys do appeals. This is because appellate work requires the distinct skill of legal research and writing, since appeals are all about the interpretation of the law and all of the work is done by exchanging written documents with the court.
As someone who has been practicing law since 1999, I can assure you that a majority of litigation attorneys (including family law attorneys) shy away from intensive research and writing. Earlier in my career, I worked for a couple of experienced lawyers who delegated virtually all research and writing tasks to myself or even their paralegals. You do not want to hire this type of lawyer for your appeal. So these are the qualities you should look for in your appellate lawyer:
A Family Lawyer Who Is Inclined Towards Doing Legal Research
Research and writing should never be done “on the fly”. It requires patience and diligence. Appellate cases move at a slower pace than those in family courts. And appellate work, requires more in-depth analysis and creative thinking because it is all about the interpretation of the law, not the facts of the case.
Neither of these qualities are conducive to people who are impatient and prefer courtroom action over spending hours on research and writing. For a successful appeal, hire the thoughtful and analytical type. If the Florida family law attorney that you are interviewing for your appeal makes many bold promises without first asking a lot of questions about you and your case, call another firm.
One With The Best Tools To Do Extensive Legal Research
Ask your prospective family law appellate attorneys if they subscribe to an online legal research database. My office uses Lexis-Nexis, but Westlaw is also a good tool. Forget about those beautifully adorned legal books in the conference room. Most law firms have not relied on paper research since the early 1990’s.
Furthermore, if a family lawyer tells you that he or she “sends somebody to the library” for research purposes, or just “googles” whatever is needed to find out, say “thanks, but no thanks.” Much like a capable doctor relies on the most technologically advanced equipment for the diagnosis and treatment of ailments, an effective appellate lawyer only works with the best research tools.
Someone With A Proven Record of Appeals
Finding a lawyer with a proven record of appeals is important. But do you know exactly how to find that proven record? Remember, just because a lawyer has practiced family law for several years does not necessarily mean he or she is the right person for your family law appeal.
Therefore, ask prospective family law appeals lawyers how many reversals of final judgments they have obtained. Request to see published appellate opinions that list that lawyer’s name. If that lawyer cannot produce a published opinion with his or her name listed as the attorney for the prevailing appellant, continue seeking one that can.
How AAA Family Law Can Help
If you are considering appealing an unfavorable final judgment from a family trial court, I encourage you to call AAA Family Law at 407-260-6001 and schedule a free initial thirty-minute consultation on the phone or at our Altamonte Springs office.
At the consultation I will: (1) ask you to explain the circumstances of your trial court case and what specific part of the final judgment you want to appeal, (2) give you a preliminary assessment of whether or not an appeal has a good chance of success in your case, but I may have to do some research to give you a final answer later (3) and quote you a fixed attorney retainer fee, not an hourly rate whose total is unpredictable.
The AAA Family Law retainer fees for family law appeals of final orders in Florida range between $3,000 and $5,000 depending on their level of complexity. For non-final orders they are between $2,000 and $4,000. See Attorney Retainer Fees for more information.
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