When a case reaches the court of appeals, the task facing counsel fundamentally changes. Victory no longer turns on uncovering evidence in discovery or persuading jurors but on the thoroughness of the legal research, the quality of the analysis, the ability to organize and tightly edit argument, and the persuasiveness of the writing. The fresh perspective injected by new appellate counsel can also help. Because the written briefing determines most appellate outcomes, affiliating with counsel homed in on its specialized features can be invaluable.
Oral argument is also important, if rarely decisive. Yet faced with the rare foray into appellate argument, trial lawyers sometimes fail to adapt to the new setting and use techniques more effective with juries or less formal trial courts. As a result, one poll of Texas appellate judges reported that, "by a margin of more than three to one, [they] prefer to hear argument from an appellate lawyer, provided that he or she knows the record well." Having counsel familiar with the particular demands and rituals of appellate argument can provide an important advantage.
All this is well known to large firms with sizable appellate sections. Their lawyers know the intricacies of appellate procedure and the tendencies of particular courts and judges. Smaller firms and solo practitioners without this in-house expertise should level the playing field by affiliating with appellate counsel.
With three decades of experience at a national firm, the Department of Justice, a plaintiffs’ boutique, and his own appellate practice, Siegel combines broad perspective with individualized attention to each case. Larger firms sometimes parcel out different sections of briefs, write by committee, and delegate much of the work to junior associates. Siegel has the luxury to take fewer cases and handle each in depth.
Siegel has handled appeals as lead counsel in the U.S. Supreme Court and five federal circuit courts of appeals, arguing in four courts of appeals (one en banc). He has also argued in the Texas Supreme Court and several intermediate Texas appellate courts. Texas Monthly has named Siegel a “Texas Super Lawyer” for his appellate work every year since 2008. The award is given to approximately 5% of lawyers in Texas selected for the honor by their peers. In 2012, he was elected to the Texas Bar Foundation, a fellowship limited to 0.3% of licensed Texas attorneys each year based on regional peer nomination. The Foundation supports projects providing affordable legal services for underserved communities, promotes professionalism, and educates the public about the justice system.