Appellate Insights

Apr 13, 2021 Laurie J. Hepler
You Gotta Have Standards

Appellate courts examine every issue through a lens—the “standard of review”—that deeply affects the analysis of whether prejudicial error occurred. Briefs must do so too. The most lenient standard, “substantial evidence” review, applies to claims of error in fact-finding, because judges and juries are closest

Feb 11, 2021 Laurie J. Hepler
A Paradigm Shift

Moving from trial court litigation to appeal, especially after a loss, requires a serious mental shift.  To evaluate prospects for success, clients and trial counsel should focus on how appeals differ from the crucible they’ve just been through. First, appellate courts assume the trial court

Jan 13, 2021 Alana H. Rotter
What Are Friends For?

Amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs are an ever-expanding dimension of appellate practice. Here are some pointers to consider in soliciting or writing them: Amicus briefs can serve various functions, from providing factual/industry context to raising legal arguments that the parties missed. They should

Nov 12, 2020 Laurie J. Hepler
The Whole Map

California’s appellate courts influence the law elsewhere.  Our courts often develop precedent on issues before other states do, and other states may consider those precedents persuasive.  So for corporate clients, appellate strategy should consider long-term interests in all states where the client operates. Does the

Oct 14, 2020 Alana H. Rotter
Hot Off The Press

Appellate courts often will refuse to consider an authority mentioned for the first time at oral argument.  But there is generally a gap of 3-18 months between the close of appellate briefing and argument.  If a relevant new decision is issued during that gap, consider

Sep 15, 2020 Laurie J. Hepler
Secret Weapons

California appellate courts publish only about 15% of their civil decisions as citable precedent.  Lurking in the other 85% are often valuable clues about how the court may view your case.  How to find them? First, geography.  There may be scores of unpublished decisions on

Aug 11, 2020 Alana H. Rotter
Ready For Your Close-Up?

As more courts switch from phone arguments to video arguments, it’s increasingly important to think through the physical layout of the space you’ll be arguing from.  Here are some specific pointers, beyond the basic tips we offered in April: Position the camera at your eye

Jul 09, 2020 Laurie J. Hepler
July COVID Updates

Rules and practices in the California Courts of Appeal have changed almost weekly since March.  Here is the latest: Most appellate courts are now conducting video oral arguments, livestreamed on their websites.  The Sixth District (San Jose) is still using phone conferencing, and the Third

Jun 16, 2020 Alana H. Rotter
What’s Your Authority For That?

Clear, concise legal writing is more important than ever, with court closures leading to motions being decided on the papers and creating a backlog for judges to sort through when the courts reopen.  Tailor your use of legal authorities to help the judge quickly see

May 27, 2020 Laurie J. Hepler
A Moment of Gratitude

Two months ago, COVID-19 closed most of California’s civil court system—the largest in the world.  And nearly all courts remain shuttered except for true emergencies. But there is one major exception: the appellate courts.  Their work does not require large gatherings, and most of it can

Who We Serve

PUBLIC ENTITIES

Whether on appeal, assisting trial counsel, or advising government officials contemplating legislative action, GMSR provides unique insight into the complex laws that impact public entities.

Read More
INSURERS

Where coverage may exist, GMSR represents insureds on appeal effectively and efficiently. Where it does not, the firm protects insurers’ right to deny claims.

Read More
BUSINESSES

GMSR offers corporate clients objective assessments on appeal, based on a deep understanding of the limitations and opportunities of appellate review.

Read More
TRIAL COUNSEL

The firm’s lawyers are team players, collaborating with trial counsel at any level from legal strategy to writing or editing trial court motions and appellate briefs.

Read More
INDIVIDUALS

GMSR vigorously advocates the rights of individual plaintiffs and defendants, in both state and federal appellate courts.

Read More