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Appellate Litigation

Overview

Appellate litigators work on appeals in both federal and state courts. It can be difficult to build a practice that is purely appellate work, especially outside of larger markets, but many general litigators also practice at the appellate level. Purely appellate litigators do not deal with developing a factual record through document discovery or depositions, so the work is focused on legal research and writing. Appellate litigation is the most direct application of what law students learn in their 1L core curriculum. Cases tend to be much shorter in duration than those handled by general litigators and can require practitioners to delve into arcane issues. Law students interested in practicing in this area should get law review or other journal experience in law school and try to get a federal clerkship, especially at an appellate level.

Featured Q&A's
Get an insider's view on working in Appellate Litigation from real lawyers in the practice area.
Ishan Bhabha, Partner
Jenner & Block LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

As an appellate lawyer, my focus generally is on the key legal questions underpinning a case, whether in the Supreme Court, courts of appeals, or at trial. Thus, the primary work I do for my clients is identifying what legal issue a case turns upon and assessing the best arguments we have as to why those issues should come out in our favor. Sometimes that means counseling a client against a particular course of action in their business because the risks are too great. But my favorite situation is when the client has made a high-stakes business decision that requires us to be creative and aggressive when defending it in court. Doing this successfully requires a combination of creativity, research, and analysis, and really understanding what the client’s strategic goal is and how your case fits within it.

What types of clients do you represent?

I generally represent large corporations or pro bono criminal or civil clients. My corporate clients include United Airlines, Honeywell, Uber, Marriott, the University of Michigan, Prudential, Stripe, FanDuel, and Exelon.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

My work falls into three categories. First, I work on appeals in the Supreme Court and the federal courts of appeals. For example, in December 2018, I argued a case in the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the rules for expert testimony in social security proceedings. In the last year, I had an appeal in the Sixth Circuit on sexual assault procedures at universities; in the Seventh Circuit about First Amendment implications of online fantasy sports, as well as on a habeas appeal challenging a murder conviction; and in the DC Circuit on the structure and operation of energy markets. Second, I try cases in district courts or through arbitration. Recently, I represented a solar energy producer in a case challenging aspects of California’s rules for renewable energy and a multi-billion-dollar company in a securities arbitration. Third, I counsel clients on a number of regulatory and business issues that they feel require creative legal analysis. For example, I recently advised a large startup on the First Amendment implications of its terms of service, counseled an airline on various issues related to its foreign operations, and helped a university respond to U.S. Department of Education rules for how sexual assault adjudications should be conducted. In addition, clients also call me from time to time to talk about issues that are on their minds and discuss strategies for their businesses. We often talk about ideas that make sense for their businesses within the bounds of the law as it exists today or as we imagine it might evolve.

How did you choose this practice area?

Since law school, I’ve been fascinated by the legal questions underpinning cases and the way in which legal rules inevitably shape what businesses and individuals do every day. While the “facts” and the “law” cannot cleanly be separated—and it’s critical to dig deep into the facts to understand what law applies and how—given my interests and my experience clerking, appellate law seemed like the natural place for me to practice. It’s been a wonderful ride so far, constantly interesting and challenging and putting me in a position where I work shoulder-to-shoulder with my clients, both pro bono and corporate, on the issues that quite literally keep them awake at night. There is no greater pleasure than arguing for your client in court on the issues they care most about and (hopefully!) persuading the judge that your view of the law is correct.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

With the normal caveat that there is no “normal” day, most days have some combination of counseling my clients on whatever is on their plates at the moment, working on a brief or a dispositive motion, getting ready for an upcoming oral argument, and perhaps mooting one of my colleagues for an argument they have. Every day I communicate with a client in one way or another and because all my work is on teams, I’m constantly meeting with my fellow partners and associates. One of my favorite things about Jenner & Block is just how collaborative all of the work is and that I’m always interacting with smart, fun, and kind colleagues.

On my favorite days, of course, I’m arguing in court!

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

Legal writing is critical, so joining a journal, moot court competition, clinic, or classes that really expose you to legal writing is very important. Another great way to gain practical experience is to clerk in an appellate court. This helps to gain an idea of how the courts operate. If you don’t like getting up in court and arguing, this probably isn’t the field for you, so it’s worth doing activities in law school that will let you figure out whether this is an experience you enjoy.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Far and away, my favorite part of being a lawyer is going toe-to-toe with really intelligent judges over difficult questions. That gives me the biggest adrenaline rush and also puts me in a position where I can best help my clients—pro bono and corporate—solve some of their most important problems. Appellate law provides you with exactly this experience, while focusing on the core legal issues in a case. I also love the step prior to argument which is brief-writing. It forces you to distill your argument down to its key components, research what law already exists, and honestly confront the strengths and weaknesses of your argument. This process gets you to where you need to be without making unnecessary concessions or stretching cases beyond their actual holdings. It’s a real intellectual challenge and a thrill when the argument comes together as you want, the client is happy, and you win in court.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

I think people believe appellate law is highly academic and without any of the “cut and thrust”—and human drama—that makes being a litigator such an exciting career. While it’s true that an appellate argument can often be academic in that you’re talking about the logic, history, and rationale behind the big legal rules that govern a case, often I’m using those same skills to advise clients of significant decisions that are not from a court and might have huge consequences for their businesses. For example, after we won a pro bono habeas appeal in the Seventh Circuit, the state offered my client a plea deal in lieu of us pushing for the full remedy—retrial but with the potential for a bigger sentence—that the court’s order entitled us to. Talking with my client about everything in his head and heart as he tried to decide whether he wanted to pursue a retrial and risk an additional 20 years on his sentence if we lost—but be released immediately if we won—or take the deal and know for sure he’d be out in 7 years, was one of the most difficult and complex discussions I’ve ever had. In a way, it had nothing to do with the intricacies of case law, and yet all the skills I developed as an appellate lawyer—assessing risk, determining what a court might likely say when faced with two hard choices—came into to play as I tried to help him think about what was the best course. For what it’s worth, he took the risk, and the state took the case to the Supreme Court which gave us a favorable ruling. As a result, he’s out of jail 11 years earlier than he otherwise would have been.

What is unique about this practice area at your firm?

We’re a small group, so all our cases are staffed very “flat”—that is, generally just one partner and one associate. I think this is a huge boon for associates because it means they are almost always drafting the brief that will go to the client and eventually the court—not some memo that goes to a more senior associate who turns it into part of a brief, that then goes to a junior partner who pulls together the whole brief, that then goes to the senior partner who argues the case. Our most senior partners work directly with our most junior associates, and as an associate, I always stayed in close touch with the client and even argued a number of cases myself. The other unique aspect of our firm is that the appellate group is closely integrated with the other practice areas within our firm, so we advise on cases throughout the litigation stage, helping our colleagues and the client shape the legal arguments at (or even before) the trial stage so as to best position any eventual appeal.

What is your routine for preparing for oral arguments?

First I re-read the briefs and the key cases we rely on, trying to really understand what the other side takes from them and how those cases fit into the bigger legal area within which the case falls. Second, I’ll do two moot courts or, if the case is in the Supreme Court, perhaps three. Moots are by far the most useful way to prepare for a case because you get to see what strikes people about your case when they haven’t been thinking about it and living it like you have. Third, in the days before the argument, I’ll just practice the answers to what I think are the big questions that the case turns on. Sometimes this has nothing to do with the “law” per se, and may be the question of why your position is “fair” or makes common sense. I’ll practice these answers when I’m walking on the street to pick up lunch, driving home on my scooter, or getting dressed in the morning. It can make for some weird looks from the public and my family alike, but it’s what works for me!

Ishan Bhabha, Partner—Supreme Court and Appellate Practice

Ishan is a partner in Jenner & Block’s litigation department and a member of its Appellate and Supreme Court practice group. Since joining the firm in 2012, his work has focused on complex issues of regulatory, constitutional, international, and commercial law. Ishan’s work has spanned a wide variety of substantive areas of law including energy, aviation and aerospace, education, media, communications, copyright, criminal, and banking. He has tried cases both in federal court and arbitration and has represented clients in all stages of litigation, from the filing of an initial complaint through the appeal of a verdict. Ishan has a particular focus on appellate litigation and has presented arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous courts of appeals.

Before joining the firm, he clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Ishan has also worked in the criminal appellate section of the U.S. Department of Justice. He graduated, magna cum laude, from Harvard College and, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School.

Rajeev Muttreja, Partner
Jones Day

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Most legal disputes can be broken down into two basic questions. First, what happened—or, in other words, what are the facts? And second, what should the result be under the law? A large part of litigation involves answering the first question by developing and analyzing a factual record. But appellate litigators focus principally on the second question. This makes our practice much more law focused and, in a way, a bit like law school. A major part of the practice is, as you might expect, litigating appeals in the state and federal courts. This involves litigating appeals on the merits, by explaining in briefs and oral argument why a lower court’s decision is wrong (or right). But it also involves making the case for (or against) discretionary review by the U.S. Supreme Court or other appellate courts by explaining why a particular case warrants the court’s intervention. It frequently involves amicus briefs, as well. Also, at Jones Day, our appellate litigators are frequently instrumental parts of trial teams. We work on trial-level motions practice—such as motions to dismiss, class certification motions, and summary judgment motions—and a case’s legal strategy more generally. We also frequently counsel clients on legal issues before litigation has been filed. Often, our work involves not only substantive questions of law, but also procedural matters, such as jurisdiction. The common thread through this all is the analysis of complex (and frequently unsettled) legal questions, whatever the setting—and whatever the subject matter. Although one naturally develops areas of expertise over time, we are all generalists.

What types of clients do you represent?

I work with a broad range of Jones Day clients. I have frequently represented clients in the health care industry, but the firm’s clients and my work run the gamut of industries. And though our clients are frequently large companies (as is typical with large law firms), I have also often worked with smaller organizations and individuals.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

I work on complex litigation matters through all stages—from the start of a lawsuit through to the end of the appellate process. I enjoy working on more than just appeals because it adds procedural variety to what is already a substantively diverse practice. Many times, I will get involved with cases that have some procedural wrinkle (or where we may want to introduce one).

I have a lot of experience with the False Claims Act, which is a federal statute that allows private individuals to file lawsuits on the government’s behalf claiming the improper payment of government funds. False Claims Act cases often raise thorny issues that call for creative thinking. For example, in one of these cases filed against a laboratory testing company, we recently won a motion to dismiss with a novel reading of a statutory provision that had received little attention in the case law. In another, we represented a pharmaceutical company in a case about “off-label” prescriptions (prescriptions written by doctors for uses not approved by the FDA) that raised interesting questions about the First Amendment, proximate causation, and Medicare regulations. In addition to advising on the company’s legal strategy, I worked on motions to dismiss and for summary judgment that whittled down the case, which ultimately settled on favorable terms. Now, I am handling follow-up litigation filed against the company under RICO, where there has been a flurry of initial motion practice.

I also frequently work on cases involving the federal securities laws and issues of corporate governance, such as merger challenges, alleged breaches of fiduciary duty, and claims of securities fraud. I do a lot of work with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as well, specifically for one of the leading consumer reporting agencies. And my practice also involves white collar criminal defense work, general commercial litigation, and much more.

Pro bono work is also a big part of my practice. I have worked on many immigration, habeas, and §1983 cases, in particular. Currently, I have a case in the Second Circuit that concerns whether my client is a U.S. citizen. I am fighting for his right to remain in the U.S., where he has spent most of his life and where his kids all live, so the stakes are high.

How did you choose this practice area?

Both in law school and then especially during my clerkship with the wonderful Judge John M. Walker, Jr. of the Second Circuit, I found that I loved analyzing and writing about complicated legal issues—and that I felt this way regardless of the substantive area. Each case and issue was like a puzzle twice over—first in unpacking the law and then in presenting an analysis clearly and concisely. I decided I wanted a practice that would let me focus on that type of work, which was my favorite part of any case. At the same time, I did not want a practice that focused exclusively on appellate litigation. I liked the different ways in which you need to think about issues at each stage of the process, and I also liked still doing some more “traditional” litigation work. Jones Day’s Issues & Appeals practice couldn’t have been a better fit.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

I’ll spend at least part of any day talking to my colleagues about our strategy in various matters—sometimes my own cases, sometimes theirs—and counseling clients. Often, much of my day will be spent writing or editing briefs or legal memos. But I’ll also sometimes spend a day researching an issue or reviewing a record, particularly when trying to figure out our best arguments on a point. And I will often moot colleagues preparing for oral argument or prepare for argument myself. I also try to stay abreast of the latest developments in the appellate courts, which often can affect a pending matter.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

A judicial clerkship, particularly at an appellate court, is invaluable if not essential because it will improve your writing and analytical skills immeasurably and also give you unparalleled insight into how courts operate and how judges think. That insight is something clients seek. I also think it’s useful to have taken a good number of doctrinal classes in law school. Familiarity with different areas of law pays huge dividends when you are practicing. But it’s most important that you are a good writer. Anything that improves your writing will be worthwhile preparation.

What do you like best about your practice area?

It never feels routine. Every case, every issue, and every day offer something new because I’m almost always working on complicated, unsettled issues. As a result, I feel like I’m always learning, and my work is never boring.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

That it’s an isolating practice, where we just sit in an ivory tower. To be sure, the work can be solitary. But the practice is actually quite collaborative. Working through a difficult issue with others (and particularly with my brilliant colleagues at Jones Day) will almost always yield new insights. Even when you think you’ve figured out the winning argument, talking about it will help you figure how best to articulate it, and hearing others’ reactions may flag a counterargument that you hadn’t previously seen. And at Jones Day, in particular, we are always working closely with our other litigation groups.

What is unique about your practice area at your firm?

Many appellate litigation groups are “star” models, largely oriented around one or two superstars. The Issues & Appeals group at Jones Day isn’t. We are quite large—more than 80 attorneys—and very committed to developing and maintaining a broad and deep talent base. We frequently hire more outgoing Supreme Court clerks than any other law firm, and we also regularly hire outgoing clerks from other courts around the country. These lawyers have no shortage of great opportunities, and we wouldn’t be able to attract and keep so many of them if there wasn’t enough interesting work to go around. But there is. Part of it is because of the firm’s size. But it is also because of Jones Day’s structure and ethos of being one firm worldwide. We lack the disincentives that are typically present in large firms to work flowing among practices or offices. As a result, it is common for a litigator in one practice area to bring an issues and appeals attorney into a matter—and, often, for that attorney to be in a different office. This allows us to have issues and appeals attorneys across the country and also generates substantive diversity in our work—so that an attorney in New York (or Boston, or Minneapolis, etc.) can work on cases more typically seen in Washington, DC, etc. And our group’s breadth and size has also given us deep roots at Jones Day, where we are well integrated into the firm. This has served our clients very well and given our attorneys many terrific opportunities.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

A junior lawyer’s tasks in this area are not all that different from those of a senior lawyer, which is part of what attracted me to the practice initially. Research, writing, and analysis can only be subdivided so much. You do more research when you are first starting your career, and you will more often prepare initial drafts of briefs instead of editing others’ drafts, but the basic feel of the work is the same.

Rajeev Muttreja, Partner—Issues & Appeals

Rajeev Muttreja focuses on appellate litigation, motions practice, and trial strategy in federal and state courts. He has argued before five different U.S. Courts of Appeals and has drafted briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court, many other federal and state appellate courts, and trial courts across the country. Rajeev has extensive experience defending False Claims Act cases, particularly within the health care industry. He also has significant experience with issues of federal jurisdiction, RICO, class actions, corporate governance, securities law, administrative law, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Anti-Terrorism Act, the Alien Tort Statute, and many other areas of law. Rajeev played a leading role on the team that won the landmark personal jurisdiction case Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations v. Brown in the U.S. Supreme Court. Rajeev also maintains an active pro bono practice. He has worked extensively with the National Immigrant Justice Center and is a member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s pro bono panel.

Joshua Yount, Partner • Michael Kimberly, Partner
Mayer Brown LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Josh: My practice focuses on handling appeals in federal and state courts for business clients litigating issues of financial or legal significance. I also help trial litigators shape legal strategies and craft persuasive briefs in lower courts.

Michael: I work predominantly on appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. courts of appeals. I also draft and argue motions to dismiss and summary judgment motions in the federal district courts. Substantively, most of my cases involve the antitrust laws, administrative law, or constitutional law. But because appellate litigation is typically focused on legal issues rather than factual ones, there are certain themes that cut across these substantive areas—questions of statutory interpretation, for example.

What types of clients do you represent?

Josh: I principally represent corporate clients, including Whirlpool Corporation and several financial institutions. I also have represented a variety of pro bono clients.

Michael: My client base is diverse. I frequently represent national trade associations like the National Association of Manufactures and American Farm Bureau Federation in administrative rule challenges and large financial institutions in securities and antitrust cases. Beyond that, I represent large companies like Procter & Gamble or Kimberly-Clark and CSX in a range of complex appeals. I also occasionally represent municipal entities. In my pro bono work, I typically represent individuals in civil rights litigation.

What types of deals and/or cases do you work on?

Josh: In recent years, my work has dealt mostly with class actions, retiree benefits, product liability, and bankruptcy-related matters. For instance, I represented a product manufacturer in challenging adverse class certification rulings in related product defect cases before the Supreme Court and then handled an appeal from a favorable trial verdict in one of the cases.

Michael: I often work on appeals involving questions of nat-ional and constitutional significance. I’ve represented clients in cases concerning the constitutionality of the Multistate Tax Compact, the legality of important Clean Water Act regulations, and the reach of personal jurisdiction under the Due Process Clause. In other examples, I’ve briefed and argued ERISA and bankruptcy cases involving statutory questions of broad applicability. Through my pro bono docket, I frequently litigate cases involving the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments.

How did you choose this practice area?

Josh: In law school, I was always drawn to the opportunity for appellate litigators to shape precedent. Then, as a judicial clerk at the Seventh Circuit, I saw firsthand the importance of effective appellate advocacy. And, at Mayer Brown, I was fortunate enough to land at a place where the appellate practice is strong and highly respected.

Michael: In my experience, appellate litigation draws a particular personality type—one who is prone to thinking about legal issues not only in the case-specific context, but also from a broader perspective. While I always enjoy tackling the finer legal and factual details of any case I’m involved with, I am also drawn to that broader perspective. As a law student, I had the good fortune of joining the Yale Law School Supreme Court Clinic. The experience was a highlight of my law school career, and I knew early on that I wanted to continue that kind of work professionally.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

Josh: Most of my time is spent reading briefs and case law, drafting briefs, and revising briefs. I also spend a fair bit of time advising clients on legal strategy and consulting with associates and fellow partners. When I have an argument, I spend time studying relevant materials and participating in moot courts.

Michael: My practice involves developing and discussing legal strategies with clients and co-counsel; drafting, reviewing, and editing appellate briefs and dispositive trial court motions; and arguing appeals and motions. Over the course of an average week, I spend perhaps one-third of my time meeting and talking with clients and co-counsel. Beyond that, I spend my time researching, writing, and editing briefs. I appear in court perhaps 10 times per year.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone hoping to enter your practice area?

Josh: A clerkship for an appellate judge is the best training for appellate work. It allows you to see many examples of effective (and ineffective) appellate advocacy. Civil procedure, federal courts, and constitutional law are probably the only essential law school classes for appellate practice.

Michael: Practice makes perfect. The best way to become a good brief-writer is by simply writing briefs, which means seeking out and grabbing opportunities to write briefs whenever they come along. It’s also important, when possible, to work with partners who are themselves experienced brief writers and appellate advocates—one of the best ways to learn is by seeing how a more experienced advocate improves your drafts.

What do you like best about your practice area?

Josh: I enjoy working with a great group of smart and friendly colleagues to come up with convincing answers to sometimes difficult legal problems.

Michael: There is no greater satisfaction for me personally than positively influencing the development of the law. At bottom, all litigation is about getting the best result for your client; in appellate litigation, the best result means not only winning the particular case at hand, but also influencing the law to make good results more likely in future cases too. The stakes are high, but it’s extremely rewarding work.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

Josh: An effective appellate practice is not limited to appeals. Appellate practitioners often do their most valuable work in shaping legal strategies at the trial level.

Michael: The work isn’t all glamorous. In addition to doing the deep thinking and writing, associates working in our appellate practice also have to format the briefs, ensure compliance with sometimes mundane (but important!) rules, review and edit tables, and oversee the production and filing of briefs. It’s a very valuable skill set to develop—being able to shepherd a brief from a substantively final draft to a truly final (and filed) product.

What is unique about this practice area at your firm?

Josh: We feature a deep bench of top-notch appellate advocates. There is no one “star” around whom all the work revolves. We also work hard to make opportunities available to more junior lawyers so that the firm’s next generation of appellate lawyers is ready and able to continue the firm’s long tradition of appellate advocacy.

Michael: As Josh mentions, Mayer Brown does not have a figurehead practice. Last term, our lawyers gave four oral arguments in the Supreme Court—and each argument was given by a different lawyer. Because the work is spread around so well, it means that it’s easier for a broad base of junior lawyers to find appellate opportunities.

What are some typical tasks that a junior lawyer would perform in this practice area?

Josh: We pride ourselves on giving junior lawyers opportunities to shine as brief-writers and oral advocates. In addition to legal research and occasional memo writing, new associates typically get a chance to draft parts of briefs and, if their work is strong, move on to drafting entire briefs. Also, through our pro bono programs, associates can handle all aspects of an appeal as early as their first year at the firm.

Michael: Junior associates in Mayer Brown’s appellate practice have opportunities to play very hands-on roles. As Josh says, they often are asked to help draft briefs right out of the gate. Short of that, substantive memo-writing assignments (whether client memos or research memos) are typical tasks.

Joshua Yount and Michael Kimberly, Partners—Litigation

Josh Yount is a partner in Mayer Brown’s Supreme Court and Appellate practice, working out of the firm’s Chicago office. Josh has handled a wide range of matters in the Supreme Court and in federal and state appellate courts throughout the country. He has written numerous articles on appeal-related issues and is a co-author of treatises on federal appellate practice, Seventh Circuit procedures, Illinois appeals, and securities class actions. 

Michael Kimberly is a partner in Washington, DC, where he briefs and argues complex appeals and dispositive motions with primary focus on the antitrust laws, environmental law, and constitutional law. He has argued over a dozen appeals in courts throughout the country, including the United States Supreme Court; the Second, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits; and en banc sittings of the Second and Eleventh Circuits. Michael has been described by The Washington Post as a “seasoned Supreme Court practitioner” (2015), and according to Reuters (2014), he is among ”the top handful of lawyers in America” who “dominate” the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court. Michael was recently recognized by Law360 (2016) as a top appellate advocate under 40, with “a years-long track record of effective advocacy before the nation’s highest court.”

Anton Metlitsky, Partner
O'Melveny & Myers LLP

Describe your practice area and what it entails.

Appellate practice obviously includes preparing briefs for appellate courts (and presenting oral arguments), but “appellate” is really a misnomer because members of our practice group are heavily involved in brief writing, argument, and legal strategy at every level, including dispositive legal motions (e.g., motions to dismiss or summary judgment motions), motions in limine and trial motions, appellate briefs, and petitions and merits cases before the Supreme Court.

What types of clients do you represent?

My clients span from large corporations, such as American Airlines and Bank of America, to nonprofit organizations, like the Chamber of Commerce and the ACLU, to individual litigants. I represent many of my nonprofit and individual clients pro bono.

What types of cases/deals do you work on?

One of the things I love about my practice is the variety of types of cases. This past year, I worked on cases in the Supreme Court involving class actions, voting rights, immigration law, and administrative law; appeals involving (among many other issues) antitrust law, patent law, and takings law; and trial litigation involving insurance law and the False Claims Act.

How did you choose this practice area?

After law school and two clerkships, it was clear to me that what I loved most about legal practice was developing and framing legal arguments. I also realized that I was interested in many areas of law and was not ready to specialize in any particular area. Appellate practice is, at its core, about understanding complex legal issues in often-specialized subject areas and presenting them clearly and persuasively to generalist judges. Given my interests, it was obvious to me that I’d enjoy this practice.

What is a typical day like and/or what are some common tasks you perform?

One great thing about my practice is that each day is different. Sometimes I’ll spend most of the day working on an appellate brief. Or I might be in court. Or I may attend a strategy meeting with clients. The variety is what keeps it interesting. But I would say that most of my time is spent on trial or appellate briefing.

What training, classes, experience, or skills development would you recommend to someone who wishes to enter your practice area?

I don’t know if there are any actual prerequisites for my practice. I think a clerkship is a great thing to do and provides a valuable experience (and, hopefully, a long-term relationship with a judge). The most important thing, though, is to work on your writing. That is true for any litigation-based practice, but it is especially true of appellate work.

What do you like best about your practice area?

I love the variety—I am at any given time working on a myriad of matters in many different areas of law. I also love that I have the opportunity to frame legal arguments in some of the most significant litigation in the country, including at the highest levels of our judicial system.

What misconceptions exist about your practice area?

The biggest misconception about our practice is that it is limited to actual appeals. In fact, our appellate practice is really a legal issues and brief writing practice. We practice at all levels of the court system, from trial courts to the Supreme Court.

How do you see this practice area evolving in the future?

There is already a trend of appellate specialists participating from the earliest stages of litigation to help guide legal strategy and ensure that issues are well presented on appeal. I expect that trend to continue and accelerate.

What is your routine for preparing for oral arguments?

I, of course, spend a lot of time studying the briefing, record, and case law. But for me, there are two additional, critical aspects of argument prep. First, I try to do at least two moot courts with “judges” who are completely new to the case. That allows me to understand what someone just coming to the matter (like a judge) is likely to find important and what questions are likely to be asked at argument. It also allows me to fine-tune the answers to those questions. Second, I spend a lot of time in the few days before the argument actually practicing answering questions out loud over and over again—the hope is that by the time the actual argument comes around, the answers to questions are a matter of muscle memory.

Anton Metlitsky, Partner—Appellate Litigation

Anton Metlitsky is an accomplished lawyer recognized for his diversified legal experience, which focuses on appellate and complex litigation matters. Anton joined O’Melveny in 2008, following clerkships with DC Circuit Judge Merrick B. Garland and Chief Justice John G. Roberts, and became a partner in 2016. Since being named a Rising Star by Law360 in 2013, Anton has continued to raise his profile, playing an increasingly critical role in some of the firm’s most high-profile appellate work covering a broad range of industries and issues and earning recognition as a 2018 National Law Journal Litigation Trailblazer along the way. He is also a thought leader in the space, having authored multiple articles and participated in panel discussions concerning various topics of federal law and Supreme Court litigation.

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