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Jax Daily Record Monday, May 6, 201312:00 PM EST

Pro bono appellate attorneys offer CLE series for legal services trial attorneys

by: Kathy Para

An esteemed panel of current and former judges and pro bono appellate lawyers came together for a CLE series covering the basics of appellate advocacy for Northeast Florida legal services trial attorneys.

This spring, judges and attorneys from the 1st District Appellate American Inn of Court presented the two-part CLE series, which provided a comprehensive overview of appellate practice.

Effective advocacy includes anticipating outcomes and planning for the best possible results for clients at all stages of the case.

Trial practice that includes consideration and planning for possible appeals helps ensure successful final outcomes. With this in mind and with input from Jacksonville Area Legal Aid attorneys, the planning team of the Inn of Court designed the two-part course to assist trial attorneys who represent low-income and vulnerable clients.

On the first day of the seminar, topics were thinking strategically at the trial level for a possible appeal; perfecting the record; and preserving error. The presenters included an overview of new developments in appellate rules such as appellate mediation.  

Presenters featured were Katherine Giddings; Michael Korn; Susan Kelsey; Ben Weaver; Judge Scott Makar; and former 1st District Court of Appeal Judges James Joanos and Peter Webster.

The second day included an oral argument demonstration with a behind-the-scenes twist. Before the demonstration, experienced appellate attorneys Bryan Gowdy and William Graessle discussed their strategies and goals with seminar attendees out of the presence of the panel. 

They argued before a panel of 1st District Court of Appeal judges featuring Judges William Van Nortwick, Stephanie Ray and Ronald Swanson. 

After arguments were presented, attendees had the opportunity to listen in as judges had their conference to determine a ruling on the case.

More than 50 legal services staff and pro bono attorneys participated in the event. These attorneys serve low-income clients through  Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Guardian Ad Litem, the Department of Children and Families, Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, Regional Conflict Counsel, Office of Public Defender, Three Rivers Legal Services, Department of Juvenile Justice and Florida Coastal School of Law Clinical Programs. 

Sincere appreciation is extended to the 1st District Appellate American Inn of Court, Florida Coastal and Jacksonville Area Legal Aid for the leadership needed to plan and implement this worthwhile and valuable continuing education event.  

Special appreciation also is extended to the law firms of Weaver & Weaver and Tanner Bishop for their sponsorship of the event. 

By assisting attorneys who serve the vulnerable and underserved, ultimately it is clients who benefit.

Attorneys interested in pro bono opportunities throughout the 4th Judicial Circuit are encouraged to contact Kathy Para, chairwoman of The JBA Pro Bono Committee, at [email protected].

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