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Appellate Practice

Collora LLP is uniquely equipped to assist clients not only with the preparation and argument of a successful appeal, but with the preparation and presentation of a trial that will create a solid foundation for that appeal.

To gain appellate victory, legal issues must be properly raised and recorded  at trial, so the preparation for a successful appeal really beings the day a client walks in our door.

This early and intense focus on facts and legal theories not only improves a client’s chances for ultimate vindication by the highest court of review, it can also convince authorities not to proceed with charges, it can obtain favorable settlements or summary judgments, and it can win judgments at trial. Thus, one of the ways we can shape fate for a client is by examining all of the pertinent facts and legal theories at the outset, so that we can design a legal strategy that can facilitate success at any stage of a proceeding.

If you desire the benefit of having a veteran appellate lawyer on your trial team, we can provide that for you at your request.

Qualifications

As Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the D.C. Court of Appeals has noted, appellate advocacy is “a specialty all to itself.” That is why we offer to our clients the services of lawyers with extensive appellate experience. Collectively, our appellate lawyers have argued countless appeals in multiple forums, have acted as law clerks to appellate judges, have acted as judge or arbitrator themselves, and have taught appellate advocacy.

Our firm also houses two lawyers who focus only on appellate advocacy and on counseling lawyers how to prepare cases for favorable rulings by trial or appellate judges. 

Thomas J. Carey, Jr. leads the Appellate Practice at Collora LLP and teaches appellate advocacy at Boston College Law School. He is also the founding chair of the Massachusetts Bar Association (“MBA”) Appellate Bench-Bar Committee, and is frequently invited to speak about appellate advocacy and writing at educational programs for lawyers.

Former Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, Christopher J. Armstrong, spent 36 years on the Appeals Court, and he wrote more than 1,600 signed opinions for the Court, interpreting and creating law that affects almost every industry. Judge Armstrong was also the recipient of the Boston Bar Association’s Award for Judicial Excellence, as well as the MBA’s Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award, given only to judges who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership and dedication to improving the administration of justice and who have upheld the highest traditions for public service.

Services 

In addition to handling the appeals of our own clients, the firm handles appeals of cases tried by others, sometimes on referral from other lawyers. We also offer to lawyers outside of our firm various levels of consultation and service related to:

  • Preserving issues for appeal
  • Writing an effective brief
  • Preparing an oral argument
  • Appellate arbitration and mediation

Forums

Collora LLP can offer you counsel admitted to practice before the highest court in the land - the U.S. Supreme Court - and we can offer you counsel that have successfully argued cases involving appeals in the following forums:

  • The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
  • Hearings by a Single Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court (for appeal of certain special rulings, such as those of the Board of Bar Overseers)
  • The Massachusetts Appeals Court
  • The Superior Courts of Massachusetts (for appeal of certain arbitration decisions or state agency rulings)
  • The Division of Administrative Law Appeals (for appeal of certain state agency decisions)
  • Private forums for appeal of private institution decisions, such as Board of Trustees hearings for appeal of Peer Review panel decisions
  • The U.S. Courts of Appeal for the 1st, 2nd, 8th, 11th and D.C. Circuits
  • U.S. District Courts (for appeal of certain federal agency rulings)

Results

The following summaries provide a sampling of the noteworthy results we have produced for our clients in some of the many appeals we have handled:

  • Won affirmation of lower court summary judgment awarding $10 million to our client in a federal case of first impression involving the law governing liability in wire transfer transactions.
  • Won affirmation of lower court dismissal of a libel and defamation action against our client, an Internet service provider, which had been sued for alleged facilitation of libel in a case involving damage demands of $300 million.
  • Obtained a writ of mandamus from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, preventing a trial judge from televising the trial of a recording industry lawsuit involving certain copyrighted materials.
  • Won multiple rulings in lengthy employment discrimination case, culminating in final favorable decision by the Massachusetts Court of Appeals and denial of further review by the Supreme Judicial Court.
  • Won in U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit the affirmation of a U.S. District Court dismissal of our municipality client from a Federal Claims Act lawsuit involving issues of first impression.
  • Obtained favorable ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit on behalf of our client, a securities trader, in case involving interpretations of complex trading rules.
  • Established the right of a client to submit an affidavit in camera to a trial judge in support of motion for disclosure of the identity of a government informant.
  • In U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, won affirmation of federal court dismissal of case involving accusations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination made against a law firm.
  • In a case of first impression, won an appellate victory for a group of synagogues, establishing their right to hire, promote and retain religious teachers with First Amendment protections against certain kinds of employment actions.

Our Methods

Because appellate work requires a special understanding of the appellate judging process, we are also pleased to shed a bit of light on how we use our collective understanding to produce positive results for clients.

In representing clients, our appellate lawyers know how to analyze, brief and argue a case for success. We focus on the most important elements of preparation, including:

  • Knowing the judge or the panel
  • Understanding the group dynamics involved in decision-making by semble (the conference of justices concerning a decision and opinion in the case)
  • Understanding the policy concerns of the court
  • Knowing how to propose a workable rule for the court to adopt for other cases
  • Understanding how to converse with each appellate judge in oral argument
  • Knowing how to write a good statement of facts based on the record, which is often the most critical factor in appellate success
  • Knowing whether any judge on the panel has taken part in previous rulings pertinent to your case and knowing how they ruled and why
  • Being prepared to show how a victory for the client is a victory for the sound development of the law
  • Knowing how to answer a judge’s questions politely but forcefully, and knowing how to interpret what that judge might be thinking from his or her questions
  • Knowing how to make it easy for a judge to write a good and workable opinion in your client’s favor
  • Stating clearly for the judges the remedy or relief desired, the procedural avenues for that relief, and the clear authority of the court to provide that relief