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Career Story: Appeal's Court Litigator

Appeal's Court Litigator

Job Title: Attorney

Type of Company: I am an attorney at a major US law firm with an international presence.

Education: BS, Psychology, William and Mary College •• JD, George Washington University Law School

Previous Experience: I got hired right out of law school as a litigator in a big law firm.

Job Tasks: I am an appellate litigator. As a litigator, I am involved in cases that are disputed and have to go to court. As an appellate litigator, I deal with cases that have gone to court already, but where the parties are not happy with the result so they want to move to a higher court and get a re-do.

The biggest part of my job is writing briefs (which, at 25 pages each, are hardly brief). Basically, briefs are just written arguments that are submitted to a court for a judge to consider. There are also oral arguments, but I am still a young attorney so my boss, the partner, does most of the talking.

I also have to meet with clients sometimes and make them feel secure that their cases are being handled correctly. All of my clients are big corporations. So I deal with people who work for those corporations.

A typical day for me involves getting a 1000-2000 page case file from my boss, which contains the initial opinions and all of the trial records. I then have to read through it as quickly as possible looking at only the relevant parts. This is not easy because generally I only get 3-6 hours to do it. I then have to go online and to the library and research the law that is relevant in the case. Again I get 3-6 hours to do this. After that, I make an outline of my brief, including facts from the case file and citations from the law. Then I flesh out the outline into a full brief.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is working out the puzzles of how to make the law work for my client.

The worst part is the outrageous time pressure. I only get 12-30 hours from getting the case file to having to have a full brief.

Job Tips:
1.) When going to law school, ignore all of the other students' criticism. They are just trying to psych you out.

2.) Don't worry so much about grades, but about building real skills. 2 years out of law school, no one cares what GPA you had. All they care about is that you can win a case.

3.) Relax and take time for yourself every day. Take at least one day off per week or you will burn out.

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