Message from Section Chair David Raybin

The TBA has created this appellate practice section devoted to enhancing the skills necessary to navigate what some believe to be the “rarified atmosphere” of the higher courts. Our section executive council consists of a number of appellate practitioners who are developing resources to assist section members in perfecting appeals and achieving a higher level of advocacy.

This newsletter is being disseminated to members of the section as information on the work that is being done on behalf of the members of this section. While we are the youngest section we believe we have accomplished a great deal. Here are some of our projects.

The “crown jewel” of our section is the Tennessee Supreme Court Boot Camp.  Attorneys watch cases argued in the Supreme Court and then group sessions are conducted to analyze the cases.  The camp is augmented by high quality presentations offering hands-on lessons in appellate presentation.  This boot camp is open to all members of the bar and not just section members.  We believe this program has been enormously successful and has garnered wonderful reviews.

The appellate pro bono program has developed because of the increasing need for nominal cost attorney assistance given the current economic climate.  Navigating the appellate courts even if one has a law license is difficult enough.  Those citizens who cannot afford an appellate lawyer desperately need assistance in seeing that our system of checks and balances operates as it should.  Attorneys who volunteer their time at the trial level do not always have the skills to address appellate issues which may be determinative of the entire case.  Thus, our section has worked vigorously to make pro bono appellate work attractive and to match up attorneys with clients.

Our section has advocated for changes in the rules governing appellate procedure.  Recently the Supreme Court of Tennessee modified one of its rules in direct response to a proposal originating in this section.

Technology is altering the way we practice in the trial courts and we see that there are similar changes that may impact appellate practice as well.  The section has begun exploring some alternatives to the “paper” record which may include the possibility of electronic filing of briefs and perhaps the entire record itself.  Our section is consulting with the appellate courts to see how new technology may assist in a less expensive and faster method of review.

The section executive council meets every other month and many members participate by conference call.  We are actively promoting existing projects and we are developing new ones as may be suggested by our members.

The executive council invites the section members to consider applying for position on the executive council. We are also reaching out to other TBA members to join our section.  We have learned so much for each other and we would like you to consider participating as well.