Jump to Navigation | Jump to Content
American Bar Association

Appellate Practice

Appellate Practice Committee


The Appellate Practice Committee strives to demystify the appellate process through its programs and the work of its subcommittees. Committee members monitor current developments in case law, proposed amendments to procedural rules, and proposals for legislation. Subcommittees also work on appellate institutes, the National Law Student Appellate Advocacy contest, program planning, and numerous special assignments.


Join this Committee


Programming at 2015 Section Annual Conference

The Appellate Practice Committee is sponsoring two programs at the upcoming Section Annual Conference in New Orleans, LA. The first program, entitled “U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and Civil Rights: Respect for the Rule of Law,” will occur on Thursday, April 16, at 1:30 p.m. This program focuses the Fifth Circuit’s historic journey to recognize and enforce the civil rights of African Americans. The distinguished panel will include Fifth Circuit Judge Stephen A. Higginson, Dr. Jack Bass (professor of humanities and social sciences emeritus at the College of Charleston), and Anne Emanuel (professor of law emerita at Georgia State University College of Law). The program will be moderated by Wayne J. Lee of Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann L.L.C. This program is co-sponsored with the Civil Rights Committee.

The second program, entitled “Oral Argument Gone Wrong,” will occur on Friday, April 17, at 3:00 p.m. This program centers on a mistake-ridden mock oral argument, followed by a discussion with the advocates and judges that analyzes the impact of each mistake and—more importantly—suggests practical tips for mistake avoidance. The panel will include Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Carl E. Stewart, Louisiana Court of Appeals Judge Ronald Belsome, and Igor Timofeyev (of Paul Hastings).

Committee Open Call

In March, we will have an open call in which all members, not just the committee and subcommittee chairs, can call in and participate. A listserv with the phone number and pass will be circulated.

Seeking Contributors

The Appellate Practice Committee is seeking authors to write for its website. Please contact Robert A. Vort or Sanford Hausler for more information.

Message from the Chairs

Welcome to the website for the ABA’s Appellate Practice Committee. This site explains our committee’s mission, how we implement that mission, and how you can get involved.

What is the Appellate Practice Committee?

Our committee has many objectives. Here are three especially important goals:

    1. We serve as a hub for attorneys who seek resources to enhance their appellate-advocacy skills.

    2. We provide our members with meaningful professional networking opportunities.

    3. We deliver thought leadership on issues of appellate law to the national legal community.

What, more specifically, does the Appellate Practice Committee do?

First, we offer diverse resources to our members on appellate advocacy and the law of appellate procedure. By way of example:

  • CLE programs. We plan and execute CLE programs at the Section of Litigation Annual Conference and the ABA Annual Meeting. This spring, for example, we will present a program on how to prepare for oral argument. The program will center on a mock oral argument and will feature appellate judges and advocates from across the country. We have presented programs in past years on the U.S. Supreme Court, techniques to enhance appellate briefs, and the intersection of appellate law and popular media.
  • Appellate Practice Newsletter. Our committee publishes a quarterly e-newsletter, the Section of Litigation’s only publication focused exclusively on appellate law. Please contact Victoria Dorfman (vdorfman@jonesday.com) or Brock Swartzle (bswartzle@house.mi.gov) if you have any ideas future articles and/or would like to contribute an article.
  • Sound Advice. Through the Section of Litigation’s Sound Advice program, our committee regularly offers podcasts about appellate advocacy. You can find our committee’s more recent Sound Advice pieces on the right-hand navigation of this page. We will release more podcasts in 2016.
  • Summaries of key developments in appellate law. Our committee keeps its members abreast of notable decisions concerning appellate procedure. The committee generally does this by emailing summaries of these decisions shortly after they are issued.
  • Book on appellate advocacy. The committee publishes A Practitioner’s Guide to Appellate Advocacy, a practically oriented resource for all lawyers who seek guidance on appellate issues. We are currently updating the Guide for a new edition.

In addition to offering these and other resources, our committee provides its members with meaningful professional networking opportunities. These opportunities often come from working together on subcommittees, from building relationships at the Section of Litigation Annual Conference and ABA Annual Meeting, and from connecting through social media.

How can you get involved with the committee?

We have eight subcommittees—ranging from programming to social media to pro bono—that always need energetic and talented members. Please email our membership cochairs, Paul Hudson (hudson@millercanfield.com) and Jason Kairalla (jkairalla@carltonfields.com) to get involved with a subcommittee. Please tell them if you have a specific interest—such as contributing a Sound Advice piece, planning CLE programs, working on our social-media efforts, or writing a newsletter article.

Thank you again for visiting our website. We would love for you to become involved with our committee and to use the committee’s resources—and the wisdom and experience of our members—to enhance your appellate practice.

Kannon Shanmugam
Stephen Feldman

Cochairs, Appellate Practice Committee



Our active subcommittees include:

  • Appellate Rules and Statutes
  • Appellate Practice Journal Board of Editors
  • Appellate Practitioner's Guide and Book
  • Website
  • Website "Sound Advice"
  • Member Services and Bar Liaison


  • Membership/Diversity
  • Professional and Social Networking
  • Pro Bono Appeals
  • Programming
  • Young Lawyers
  • State Court Appellate Practice
  • Amicus Brief

Find contact information for committee and subcommittee chairs:


Spotlight on Subcommittees

Membership and Diversity Recruitment Subcommittee

This subcommittee focuses on efforts to expand our committee's membership through membership drives, community outreach events, and presentations to other legal organizations. In addition, it works with new members to find subcommittees within the Appellate Practice Committee where they can be active participants. The subcommittee also encourages diversity and inclusion in committee membership, leadership, and member services. This subcommittee works closely with our Member Service and Bar Liaison and Young Lawyers Subcommittees in accomplishing these objectives.

More Subcommittee Descriptions


Appellate Practice Leadership

Cochairs Web Editors Newsletter Editors
Stephen Feldman

Raleigh, NC

Kannon Shanmugam

Washington, D.C.

Sanford Hausler

New York, NY

Lara O'Donnell

Miami, FL

Victoria Dorfman

New York, NY

Brock Swartzle

Detroit, MI