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Jun 2005
June 01, 2005

Compendium of Appellate Bar Organizations

You have resolved in your 2005 business plan to make a more concerted effort to connect with judges, members of the bar, and business professionals by joining an appellate bar organization. There are many benefits to such an affiliation, including education, networking, and business development. But where do you begin? There are a multitude of groups offering a wide range of services and publications at the state, circuit, and national levels, and finding information on the World Wide Web can be difficult, at best. Simply typing in the terms “appellate” and “organizations” on Google’s search engine generates more than 725,000 results!

As a service to the members of DRI’s Appellate Advocacy Committee and appellate practitioners everywhere, Certworthy presents what is believed to be the first ever “Compendium” of United States appellate bar organizations and resources. You will find a list of easily accessible links for all of the organizations referenced in this Compendium with web pages at

If you are aware of additional appellate bar associations that have been inadvertently omitted, please send an e-mail to with that information so the groups can be added to the website. United in purpose, appellate organizations will continue to increase the quality of advocacy before state and national appellate benches, and the collegiality of appellate lawyers.

National Organizations

DRI Appellate Advocacy Committee. The Defense Research Institute’s Appellate Advocacy Committee provides a forum for attorneys who handle appeals, regularly or on an occasional basis. Committee members include those practicing both in firms and in-house who want up-to-date practice tips, publications, and seminars dedicated to handling litigation before state or federal appellate courts. The Committee sponsors annual continuing education programs that focus on appellate practice, contributes to the appellate advocacy issue of DRI’s monthly publication, For the Defense, and publishes Certworthy, a bi-annual newsletter with a wide range of articles addressing the arts of written and oral appellate advocacy. DRI members can access the Appellate Advocacy Committee’s website with a password at:

American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. The Academy was formed in 1990 to advance the highest national standards and practices of appellate advocacy and to recognize outstanding appellate lawyers. Membership in the Academy is exclusive; there are currently fewer than 300 fellows. To qualify, you must have a minimum of 15 years’ practice in appellate law and be nominated by a judge, practitioner, or existing fellow. The Academy publishes 3-4 newsletters per year and also publishes reports and recommendations on appellate practice topics. All Academy fellows receive a subscription to The Journal of Appellate Practice and Process, an academic publication edited by faculty members of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s William H. Bowen School of Law. The Academy has sponsored an award, the “Eisenberg Prize,” for the year’s best published article on appellate practice and procedure, and it offers continuing legal education seminars from time to time, often with other bar associations. You can learn more about the Academy at its website:

TIPS Appellate Advocacy Committee. The American Bar Association’s Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS) has an Appellate Advocacy Committee that provides a professional forum for attorneys and judges interested in all aspects of appellate advocacy. Membership is open to all members of TIPS. The Committee sponsors and presents continuing education programs at the annual ABA and TIPS meetings, and also sponsors several regional meetings each year of interest to local appellate and trial practitioners. The Committee publishes a quarterly newsletter and participates in the TIPS annual survey by providing an article on developments in appellate advocacy. The Committee also recently published the second edition of its popular book, The Amicus Brief: How to Be a Good Friend of the Court. For more information about the Committee’s activities, please refer to its website:

ABA Litigation Section’s Appellate Practice Committee. The American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation also has a subdivision devoted to issues involving appellate practice, the Appellate Practice Committee. In addition to continuing education programs, the Committee publishes The Appellate Practice Journal on a quarterly basis. In the Committee’s words, its goal is to “demystify the appellate process through its programs and the work of its subcommittees.” The Committee also sponsors an annual National Law Student Appellate Advocacy Contest. The Committee’s website can be found at:

Council of Appellate Lawyers (CAL). CAL, which is part of the ABA Judicial Division’s Appellate Judges Conference, is the first national appellate bench-bar organization in the country. It offers annual continuing education programs that bring together judges and attorneys to discuss issues of appellate practice and procedure. CAL publishes a biannual e-Newsletter and sponsors a member ListServ. All CAL members also receive a subscription to The Journal of Appellate Practice and Process, an academic publication edited by faculty members of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s William H. Bowen School of Law. CAL also honors jurists and members through a Distinguished Contribution to Appellate Law Award. You can learn more about CAL at its website:

Federal Circuit Organizations

The Federal Circuit Bar Association. The Federal Circuit Bar Association is a national organization for the bar of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Organized to unite the different groups that practice within the Circuit’s legal community, it seeks to strength and serve the Court and offers a forum for common concerns and dialogue between bar and court, governmental counsel, and private practitioner, litigator, and corporate counsel. It sponsors regional seminars regarding court practice and can be contacted through its website:

The Federal Bar Council. The Federal Bar Council is an organization of lawyers who practice in federal courts within the Second Circuit. It is dedicated to promoting excellence in federal practice and fellowship among federal practitioners and to encouraging respectful, cordial relations between bench and bar. Over twenty former Trustees of the Federal Bar Council have gone on to service in the federal judiciary, including the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. You can find more information about the Council at

The Bar Association of the Fifth Federal Circuit. The purpose of the Bar Association of the Fifth Federal Circuit is to improve and facilitate the administration of justice within the Circuit. The organization provides continuing legal education, access to unpublished opinions that are not otherwise available on the Fifth Circuit’s web page, and seeks to raise the standards of proficiency and integrity in federal practice. The Association’s website is:

Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference. The Sixth Circuit does not currently have a bar association per se, but does have a Judicial Conference sponsored by the Sixth Circuit. The Court hosts an annual gathering of all circuit, district, bankruptcy and magistrate judges of the Circuit, and every other year invites members of the bar to participate. More information is available at:

The Seventh Circuit Bar Association. The primary goal of the Association is to work together-as lawyers and judges-to understand and address issues relating to the administration of justice within the Circuit. Members have significant opportunities for education and networking and to communicate concerns with the judges of the circuit. The Association’s website can be found at:

The Eighth Circuit Bar Association. This Association, formed in 2003, seeks to improve and facilitate the administration of justice in the federal courts within the Eighth circuit. Its goal is to serve as a compliment to existing bar organizations and to collaborate with them. The Association website is:

State Organizations

Alabama. The Appellate Practice Section of the Alabama State Bar serves to foster communication among lawyers and judges on matters pertaining to appellate practice. The Section also acts as a resource group for the Alabama appellate courts and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals by assisting with rules evaluations and amendments, pro bono appointments, appellate mediation, and other programs. For further information, contact the Sections division of the Alabama State Bar at (334)269-1515 or

Arizona. The Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Arizona provides a forum for appellate practitioners and judges to meet and exchange ideas and concerns. The Section sponsors CLE programs relating to appellate practice and appellate advocacy, conducts discussion groups regarding various aspects of the appeals process, and disseminates information to the bar and the public about the appeals process. More information on the Section can be found at

California. An Advisory Commission on Appellate Law is organized under the “Legal Specialization” section of the State Bar of California. The Board of Legal Specialization administers the California legal specialization program, which provides policies and guidelines for certification and re-certification of specialists and acts upon the recommendations of advisory commissions for approval or denial of certifications and re-certifications. The Appellate Law Advisory Commission reviews and makes recommendations on certification and re-certification applications to the Board, develops and grades the appellate law legal specialist examination, reviews and approves applications for approved education provider status and for individual education programs, and recommends revisions to the standards for certification and re-certification to reflect current practice in the area of appellate law. The chair for the Appellate Law Advisory Commission, Susan H. Handelman, may be contacted at or (650)364-8200.

Colorado. The Litigation Section of the Colorado Bar Association maintains a subcommittee on appellate practices. The Section provides publications and seminars on current information of interest to litigation practitioners. It conducts an annual fall seminar, a summer symposium on litigation topics, and specialized programs at the annual Colorado Bar Association convention. In May 2005, the Appellate Subsection co-sponsored a CLE program on “Appellate Practice in State and Federal Court.” The Colorado Bar Association can be reached for more information at (303)860-1115, or online at

Florida. The Florida Bar Appellate Practice Section is an active, 1400-person organization devoted to promoting excellence in Florida’s state and federal appellate courts. The Section holds meetings, sponsors seminars and CLE programs, and publishes a section journal, The Record. More information on the Florida Bar Appellate Practice Section is available on its website,

Georgia. The Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Georgia strives to foster professionalism and excellence in appellate advocacy and to encourage improvements in the appellate process. To that end, the Section publishes newsletters, sponsors programs and seminars, encourages pro bono representation, provides a forum for dialogue between the appellate bench and the Georgia bar, and advocates improvements in appellate practice and procedure through legislation. For more information on the Section, click on the “Sections” link of the State Bar of Georgia website,

Illinois. The Appellate Lawyers Association is an organization of Illinois attorneys who regularly practice in the state and federal appellate courts. The ALA holds monthly meetings, provides presentations by judges or prominent attorneys, offers publications, sponsors a Midwest moot court competition, and has a private discussion forum for ALA members. More information can be found on the ALA website,

Indiana. The Appellate Practice Section of the Indiana State Bar Association acts to bring together members of the Indiana State Bar Association who are interested in appellate practice and procedure issues. The Section publishes a newsletter, The Appellate Advocate, twice a year. More information can be found by contacting the Section Chair, Hon. James S. Kirsch, at The Indiana State Bar Association may be contacted at (800)266-2581, or online at

Iowa. The Appellate Practice Committee of the Iowa State Bar Association acts to improve appellate practice and interface with the restructuring efforts of the Supreme Court. The Iowa State Bar Association may be contacted at (515)243-3179, or online at

Michigan. The Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Michigan provides education, information, and analysis about issues of concern in appellate law through meetings, seminars, its website, public service programs, a discussion listserv for members, and publication of a newsletter on Michigan appellate practice and procedure. More information can be found online at

Minnesota. The Appellate Practice Section of the Minnesota State Bar Association focuses on legal and policy issues related to both state and federal appellate practice. The section provides opportunities for continuing legal education on the latest developments in appellate matters and issues a Section newsletter. It provides a forum for attorneys who handle an occasional appeal as well as for attorneys whose practice is concentrated in appellate practice. More information on the section can be found at

New Jersey. The Appellate Practice Committee of the New Jersey State Bar Association addresses all issues that affect practices and procedures in the Appellate Division and Supreme Court of New Jersey. The Committee comments on proposed amendments to court rules, promotes an open and ongoing exchange of views with appellate judges and court administrators, and sponsors cooperative efforts between the judiciary and the Bar Association in order to enhance the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of justice at the appellate level. The Chair of the Appellate Practice Committee, Bruce D. Greenberg, can be contacted at (973)623-3000 or

New Mexico. The State Bar of New Mexico Appellate Practice Section is an organization of lawyers and judges who handle appeals or are interested in appellate law. It serves to provide information and dialogue concerning issues affecting appellate law to its members, the judiciary, the State Bar, and the public. Newsletters are available to members on the Section website, found under the “Divisions/Sections/Committees” link at

New York. The Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association provides a Section newsletter and reports on commercial and federal litigation issues. The Section includes a Committee on Appellate Practice. For more information on this Committee, you may wish to contact the New York State Bar Association at (518)463-3200.

North Carolina. The Appellate Rules Committee of the North Carolina Bar Association is concerned with improving the quality of appellate practice in North Carolina. Its members (lawyers and judges from across the state) meet regularly to discuss appellate problems and possible solutions. The Committee has drafted proposed amendments to the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure for consideration by the Supreme Court. More information on the Committee can be found at

Ohio. The Ohio State Bar Association Litigation Section Appellate Practice Committee works to establish a new degree of cooperation and coordination between appellate judges and practitioners. It contributes to the Litigation Section newsletter and has organized an appellate continuing legal education program. More information can be accessed by members at Andrew S. Pollis, the Litigation Section chair, can be reached at (216)274-2386 or for more information.

Oklahoma. The Appellate Practice Section of the Oklahoma Bar Association hosts speakers on appellate issues and organizes continuing legal education. Contact Chairperson Barbara S. Kinney at (405)522-1165 or for more information on the Section.

Oregon. The Appellate Practice Section of the Oregon State Bar provides appellate practitioners in state and federal court with an opportunity to develop and improve their skills, and provides a forum for communication and action. The Section generally sponsors two continuing legal education seminars each year and also publishes a newsletter for its members. More information can be found on the Section’s website,

Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Post-Trial and Appellate Committee is charged with promoting, supporting and improving post-trial and appellate advocacy through regular member dialogues, seminars, a newsletter, and interactions with the courts and similar national and state organizations. The Pennsylvania Bar Association can be contacted at (717)238-6715 or for more information.

South Carolina. The Trial and Appellate Advocacy Section of the South Carolina Bar sponsors and supports programs on litigation skills, effective advocacy and specialized areas of litigation practice in an effort to improve the art and technique of trial advocacy. It co-sponsors a CLE seminar at the South Carolina Bar convention and encourages members to submit articles to South Carolina Lawyer. Other projects include monitoring legislation and posting Section information on the Bar’s website and through the Section’s electronic mailing list. Contact Tara Smith at (803)799-6653, ext. 146, or for more information on the Section.

Texas. The Appellate Section of the State Bar of Texas provides continuing legal education opportunities for appellate practitioners, sends e-mail alerts on appellate law issues to members, and publishes a Section report, The Appellate Advocate. More information regarding the Section can be found on its website,

Utah. The Utah State Bar Appellate Practice Section sponsors continuing legal education programs, provides practitioner materials, and provides notices of interest to appellate attorneys on its website. More information on the Section can be found online at

Virginia. The Virginia State Bar Litigation Section maintains an Appellate Practice Subcommittee. More information regarding this Subcommittee can be obtained by contacting its Chair, William H. Shewmake, at (804)282-8800.

Wisconsin. The State Bar of Wisconsin Appellate Practice Section brings together members of the Wisconsin Bar who have a special interest in the field of appellate practice and encourages the communication and exchange of ideas between attorneys practicing in state and federal appellate courts. The Section publishes a newsletter and sponsors the Appellate Practice Workshop, where participants brief and argue an appellate case and then receive feedback from appellate judges and experienced practitioners. More information can be found on the Section’s page of the State Bar website,

Wyoming. The Wyoming State Bar maintains a Permanent Rules Advisory - Appellate committee. The Chairperson of the committee is Gregory C. Dyekman, who can be reached at, or at (307)634-8891.

John J. Bursch practices appellate, condemnation and business litigation at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, where he is the founder and Chair of the firm’s Appellate Practice Group. He received a BA (Math) and BM (Music) summa cum laude from Western Michigan University, and JD magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota. He is a member of the State Bar’s Appellate Practice Section.


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