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So You Want to Start an Appellate Practice in the 2nd Circuit?

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD | Last updated on

Maybe you've practiced at a firm for a few years and you're ready for something different, or maybe you've always dreamed of arguing a case before the Supreme Court. But one thing's clear -- you've decided to start your own appellate practice.

So, go ahead and hang out a shingle, but if you think that's going to be enough to drive business, think again.

Do You Have What It Takes?

Most people don't graduate from law school and open up an appellate practice. The path to appellate practice doesn't necessarily need to be long, but there are definitely a few pit stops that don't hurt along the way. Eugene Volokh of The Volokh Conspiracy asked some colleagues about breaking into appellate practice, and trends emerged. Many stated than an appellate clerkship though not mandatory, is immensely helpful in terms of practical experience, building a network, and obtaining future employment. Others noted that litigation experience is also valuable.

Develop a Niche Within the Niche

Once you are practicing, some attorneys advise that one should find their niche. The ABA Journal sat down to talk to Thomas C. Goldstein, founder of SCOTUSblog, and Erik S. Jaffe, a solo appellate practitioner, and they both agreed that finding a niche is a good way to establish a foundation for an appellate practice. Essentially, you want to be the "go-to" person when particular types of cases are appealed.

If You Build It, They Won't Come

You should definitely approach starting your own appellate practice optimistically, but let's face it you're not Kevin Costner: If you build it, they won't necessarily come. Hanging out your shingle is not enough -- you need to let people know you exist -- that is, you need to market yourself. There are several ways you can get the word out that you have a practice -- you can do this through networks, writing/speaking engagements, and you can have professionals who specialize in lawyer marketing give you more options.

One easy way to get your name out is through the FindLaw Lawyer Directory, the most visited lawyer directory on the Web. The Directory makes it simple for prospective clients to find an attorney based not only on geographic location, but practice area as well. To get your firm listed, just fill out a contact form and a FindLaw rep will get in touch.

Making the decision to enter appellate practice is an exciting one. While you focus on developing a niche, and honing your research and argument skills, you can leave at least some of the the marketing worries to FindLaw.

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