Virtually any trial level proceeding that results in an intermediate or final order or judgment may be the subject of an appeal. If you have been to court and lost, you may feel that errors were made that led to an incorrect result or that made the proceedings unfair to you. If you have been to court and won, the other side may feel the same way. In most matters, the law permits either party to obtain review of the facts determined and the legal rulings made in a trial court, by promptly filing a Notice of Appeal to bring the case before an appellate court. The appellate court will review what was done, consider the legal arguments of the parties, and then may affirm, modify or reverse the order or judgment of the trial court. If the appellate court affirms, the lower court's judgment stands. If the order is modified or reversed, the appellate court will either enter its own corrective order or send the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.
Regardless of "who sued who" originally in the trial court, the party who brings an appeal (and therefore seeks to change the outcome of the lower court proceeding) is designated the Appellant. The party who answers the appeal (and thus seeks to preserve the result reached by the court below) is called the Respondent.
The purpose of an appeal is not to conduct a second trial or proceeding but to correct errors that were made in the first one. An appeal is not a new trial and no new evidence or testimony may be introduced. The appellate court will only review matters that were before the lower court (the "Record on Appeal"), and with certain rare exceptions will only consider arguments based on legal issues that were properly "preserved" by timely objection made to the trial court. Competent appellate counsel is essential to identify appealable issues that may affect your case.
The cost of an appeal can be significant. If you are the Appellant, in addition to legal fees you will be responsible for expenses including the cost of assembling and preparing the papers and transcripts comprising the Record on Appeal, whose accuracy and completeness must be either certified by your attorney or stipulated to by both sides. Competent appellate counsel should help you at the outset in weighing the potential costs, risks and benefits in deciding whether to bring an appeal. If you are the Respondent, your lawyer must still review the Record prepared by your adversary to be sure it is accurate and complete. For either Appellant or Respondent, the legal charges for your appeal will depend on a number of factors including the length of the Record, and the number and complexity of legal issues involved. In most cases, each party is responsible for his or her own legal fees.
An appellate attorney will approach the case from a fresh perspective and review the case as would an appellate court. An appellate attorney is experienced in reviewing the record of proceedings in the lower court to identify issues that can be successfully argued on appeal. An appellate attorney can efficiently prosecute or defend your appeal at reasonable cost to you.
As part of your initial consultation we will discuss the probable cost of your appeal. I will give you my good faith estimate of the probable total costs and fees, and the amount that you will need to deposit with me in advance at the time you retain my services. As your lawyer, I will provide you with regular statements of how my time on your case is spent, and what costs have been incurred.
If, after discussing your matter fully and addressing any questions you have, you decide not to retain me, you will owe me nothing. If you decide to proceed with me as your attorney, I will charge for my work including time spent in learning about your case, preparing for our consultation, preliminary research, analysis of risks and benefits, and any other steps needed for me to give you the best possible evaluation of your case.