Would you rather be a trial lawyer or an appellate lawyer? At Above the Law, Mark Herrmann has a thoughtful post weighing the pros and cons of each career path. Ultimately he recommends following your heart by pursuing the kind of work you enjoy doing. But do so knowing what you’re getting yourself in for.
Mark notes that, nationwide, most big firms don’t have pure appellate practices. “Rather,” he says, “they have ‘appellate and motions’ practices, or some such thing, which reflects the truth that most ‘appellate’ lawyers spend much of their time briefing major issues in trial courts and not actually handling appeals.” In Louisiana, it would probably be more accurate to describe an appellate practice as “appeals and writs.” This is because, excluding pro se writ applications, the workload of Louisiana courts of appeal is split about 50-50 between appeals and writ applications. Thus, most Louisiana appellate lawyers I’ve talked to say that writ applications make up a substantial percentage of their practices.