Appellate Insights

GMSR’s monthly appellate insights offer concise, timely guidance on appellate issues, and tips for avoiding common pitfalls at all stages of litigation.

Dec 09, 2021 Alana H. Rotter
Appearances Matter

At a time of year when holiday decorations and beautifully-wrapped gifts abound, remember that visual presentation also matters in legal briefs, motions, and other filings.  Here are some formatting tips to increase readability and convey your message with maximum impact: Use frequent headings and subheadings. 

Nov 11, 2021 Laurie J. Hepler
Making Good Briefs Great

GMSR edits draft briefs every day—our own and co-counsel’s.  We base our edits on experience with what works, including input from judges and court staff attorneys on writing habits they appreciate or bemoan.  Here are four key changes that help make good briefs great: Eliminate

Oct 14, 2021 Alana H. Rotter
The Jury’s In

Jury trials are ramping up after a long hiatus. With jury trials come jury instructions, a common basis for appellate reversal. To preserve instructional error arguments (in case you lose at trial), and to minimize the risk of reversal (in the hope that you win

Sep 09, 2021 Laurie J. Hepler
Is This Injunction Stayed?

The general rule of thumb is that an appeal automatically stays a “mandatory” injunction, but not a “prohibitory” injunction. But the distinction between mandatory and prohibitory injunctions isn’t always clear.  What makes an injunction “mandatory,” and thus stayed?  Here are three core principles from our

Jul 13, 2021 Alana H. Rotter
Back to Basics

Lawyers who’ve been living with a case, especially in an area of their specialty, are deeply immersed in the relevant law.  But don’t assume that’s true of the court—judges tend to be generalists, given the wide array of cases on their dockets.  To maximize persuasiveness,

Jun 10, 2021 Laurie J. Hepler
Batting Practice

Oral argument brings some predictable questions—and some that the briefing lawyer wouldn’t easily think of.  Diligent solo preparation can cover most of the predictable ground.  But arguing counsel needs the insights of lawyers or client representatives who didn’t work on the briefs, to prepare for

May 17, 2021 Alana H. Rotter
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Legal briefs make for dense reading.  Images, charts, and other visual displays can help alleviate that density, conveying key information succinctly and effectively.  Some things to consider: Images or charts can be inserted directly into the body of a brief, in place of – or

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

Mar 11, 2021 Alana H. Rotter
Should I Answer That?

Upon receiving a writ petition seeking interlocutory appellate review, the real party in interest must make a strategic decision: whether to file a preliminary opposition, or wait to see if the Court of Appeal will summarily deny the petition on its own.  Here are some

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

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.

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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.

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BUSINESSES

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

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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.

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

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COMMUNITY PRO BONO

As part of GMSR’s long-standing commitment to social justice and equality, GMSR provides pro bono appellate services to individuals and to community organizations on issues of concern.

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