Civil & Criminal Writs and Appeals

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Five Reasons Why You Need an Appellate Attorney

Although talented trial attorneys can excel in the courtroom by persuading juries or trial judges to rule in favor of their clients, a different set of persuasive skills are required in appellate courts. On appeal, certain presumptions favor affirmance of a jury’s verdict or a trial judge’s order. Such presumptions are embodied in arcane rules of appellate review, including the standard of review (the lens through which appellate judges view a party’s claim that a lower court erred) and standard of prejudice (the framework that guides appellate courts in determining whether a claimed error affected a lower court’s judgment or ruling). Time and again appellate arguments are lost because an advocate or a party in an appellate court ignores these kinds of standards. 

After a final judgment, a notice of appeal must be filed within strict timeliness or the statutory right to appeal will be lost. Orders other than final judgments often cannot be appeal and must instead be challenged by way of a writ. Appellate attorneys understand the intricate rules governing how and when one can appeal from or file a writ challenging an adverse judgment or order.  

Since appellate lawyers are typically not involved in the arguments presented in the trial court, they can see the issues anew. What’s more, they can see those issues objectively because they were not embroiled in the adversarial trial proceedings. Their detachment enables them to determine which issues are worth pursuing on appeal. This in turn increases your chances of success. 

Trial attorneys’ schedules are often cluttered with court appearances, discovery motions, and other time consuming tasks. By contrast, appellate lawyers have the time to concentrate on preparing an effective appellate brief. This frees up trial attorneys’ valuable time and preserves clients’ resources. 

One of the most important tasks performed by an appellate lawyer is selecting the issues to argue on appeal. Not only must an appellate lawyer ensure that those issues with the greatest chance of success are presented to the appellate court, but the lawyer must also ensure that meritorious issues are not watered down by being presented together with issues that have no chance of success. 

Meet Steve

Stephen “Steve” Vasil helps clients by pursuing and defending against civil and criminal writs and appeals in California state and federal courts. He has written over 100 appellants’ opening briefs in diverse areas of law, including family law, trusts and estates, real estate, business disputes, employment law, and criminal matters ranging from theft to murder.  

Steve also helps attorneys prepare for trial by writing motions, conducting research, and advising on trial strategies.

Before beginning his appellate practice over 10 years ago, Steve worked primarily as a corporate transactional lawyer, advising business on mergers and acquisitions, capital market financing, and general corporate matters.   

Bar Admissions

• California
• New York
• U.S. Supreme Court
• U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
• U.S. District Court, Southern District of California


Yale Law School, J.D.
Haverford College, B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude 

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