Honest answers to key questions about appeals
Do you handle appeals anywhere in Illinois?
Yes. I can handle an appeal from any circuit court (trial court) in Illinois.
Do you handle appeals from outside of Illinois?
Yes. Appeals from decisions of federal courts in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois come to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, where I handle appeals. However, I handle state court appeals only from Illinois.
How do you charge?
I prefer to handle appeals on a fixed-fee basis whenever possible. In other words, let you know at the beginning of the case what the total amount of legal fees will be to handle the entire appeal from start to finish. If I cannot obtain sufficient information at the beginning of a case to establish a reasonable fixed fee amount, I may charge on a hourly basis. The basis of the fees will be clearly explained in writing before the client engages the firm.
My trial attorney has already filed a notice of appeal but I want a different attorney to handle the case on appeal. Will you do it?
My case evaluation procedure is the same if a timely notice of appeal has been filed as in other instances.
What is the screening process for a potential appellate matter?
I can handle only a limited volume of appeals. Before accepting representation, I independently assess each potential matter to determine whether there is a meritorious basis for an appeal and whether I can handle the matter efficiently in light of my existing caseload.
I want to appeal a judgment that was entered more than 30 days ago. Can I?
Probably not, but please call to discuss your individual situation.
Do you represent both appellants and appellees?
Yes, I have represented both appellants (the party starting the appeal) and appellees (the party responding to the appeal), as well as intervenors, and amicus curiae (“friends of the court”).
Should I hire a different lawyer to handle the appeal than the one who represented me in the trial court?
Maybe. It is often a good idea to bring in a lawyer who will look at the appeal from a fresh perspective, just as the appellate court will.
What is your appellate win-loss record?
I have handled over 100 appeals. No appellate lawyer can ethically disclose or discuss a so-called “win-loss” record because such numbers are meaningless without knowing the context. For example, statistics show that appellees win on appeal much more frequently than appellants. Accordingly, a lawyer who has represented many more appellants will probably have a smaller percentage of “wins” than a lawyer who has represented many more appellees.
My appeal is before a court in downstate Illinois. Is it going to cost more to hire a lawyer from the northern part of the state?
Probably not. Our experience shows that there is not a great difference in the level of legal fees to handle appeals charged by competent and experienced appellate lawyers in different parts of the state. Appellate records and briefs are e-filed, so the cost of those services does not vary with the lawyer’s office location. Where necessary, we will use standard shipping and mailing services, regardless of where the appellate court is located and the charges will not vary greatly depending upon the part of the state where the court is located. The important consideration is selecting the right lawyer for your case, regardless of where the court is located.
I want to handle my own appeal. Will you “check out” what I do before I file it?
No. I often enter into co-counsel and referral arrangements with other lawyers in appellate matters. However, I cannot enter into such arrangements with non-lawyers.
How long does an appeal take?
Under court rules, briefing on a typical state court appeal should be completed 21 weeks (almost 5 months) after the notice of appeal is filed. However, extensions of time due to such things as an incomplete record are common in state court appeals and will extend the time period to complete the appeal. The appellate court will usually issue its decision from 3 to 6 months after an appeal is fully briefed, but there is no assurance that the court will act within that period.
Can my appeal be decided faster?
Maybe. The rules provide that some types of cases (child custody matters, for example), move faster than the typical timetable. However, it is rare for the court to choose to accelerate a case that is not fast-tracked by the rules.
Can a case be settled even after an appeal is filed?
Yes. Several appellate court systems have mandatory or optional arbitration procedures. I have settled a number of cases at various stages of the appeal process. However, if you choose to appeal, you should assume that the appeal will proceed and not be concluded by settlement.
Will you keep me informed during the appeal?
No, I will review a case free of charge to advise you whether I can undertake the representation.
Do you charge to review a case to determine whether an appeal is feasible?
A: No, I will review a case free of charge to advise you whether I can undertake the representation.
Is it necessary to come to your office for a meeting?
No. Most aspects of an appeal deal with analyzing the record, conducting legal research, and crafting legal arguments. In fact, because of the nature of the appellate practice, I often do not meet clients face-to-face from the beginning until the end of the appeal.