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Why PHP is the Right Appellate Services Provider for You

by | Jun 27, 2024

It was 2 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. Revelers were already filling Times Square. Businesses were shutting down early. And one New York attorney was in a panic.

She had a reply brief due by the end of the day. Unfortunately, her appellate services provider wasn’t picking up the phone. She hurriedly placed a call to PHP, and by the end of the day, her brief was filed.

Disaster averted and lesson learned: Service and experience matter when your case is on the line.

Lawyers and law firms invest countless hours and considerable expense building appellate cases. Yet many endanger their investment by failing to seek help from experts who specialize in appellate services or by hiring inexperienced appellate contractors.

In its six decades handling appellate services in New York, PHP has seen how critical it is for law firms to weigh factors such as knowledge, quality of work, responsiveness, technology, and resources when choosing a provider to help perfect appeals. If they don’t focus on these factors, firms increase the risk of expensive and embarrassing errors and poor service when they need help the most.

Why Knowledge Matters

Every appellate court has a unique set of rules—and attorneys who fail to follow them do so at their peril. Consider this case from earlier in the year in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. A lawyer incorporated an argument by reference from a related case. This caused his brief to blow through the court’s word count limit by 1,300 words. The Federal Circuit responded by threatening the lawyer with sanctions for failing to comply with the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

It’s just the kind of technical error that an appellate services provider can help lawyers and law firms avoid. In New York, where PHP has particular expertise, the rules vary depending on the court and the judges presiding. As a result, PHP has become intimately familiar with the technical requirements of each court—from the size limits of PDF files to the bookmarks and hyperlinks required in each document.

Responsiveness and attitude are also key. Prematurely popping champagne corks on New Year’s Eve when a brief is due is hardly a mark of superior service. For its part, PHP takes a proactive approach . This includes alerting attorneys about time-sensitive deadlines, helping them meet those deadlines, and making sure all filings are completed and error-free.

Checking the Track Record

Even the most sophisticated firms can be taken in by fly-by-night operators. These are usually companies who make outsized claims, but are often inadequately staffed and lack knowledge about the local courts.

A critical element in selecting the right appellate service firm is due diligence. Carefully vetting an appellate provider’s track record can help prevent firms from finding out too late that their cases have been mishandled.

Among other things, firms should ask: Does the provider have a well-documented history of high performance? Is it intimately familiar with the local courts and their rules? Does it retain clients year after year? Does it have the staff resources to handle the labor-intensive tasks that are crucial in preparing a filing? Has it invested in technology that will specifically safeguard clients from errors? Does it have a well-developed system in place to ensure quality?

Timing Issues Can Be Telling

Not long ago, a paralegal contacted PHP and asked for help because the firm’s provider was charging thousands of dollars in extra fees if the firm turned in a brief past 10 a.m. on the day it was due. PHP took over the brief and got the job done on time as promised. The same day, the firm’s managing partner alerted attorneys that PHP would be the firm’s appellate provider going forward.

Timing issues like these often provide a clue about the resources an appellate services provider can marshal for clients. If a provider cannot accept filings after 10 a.m. it may not have the people or proper technology in place to guarantee that a brief will be completed on time. If the provider says it can accept filings later in the afternoon, the company likely has the resources to meet tight deadlines and provide expedited service.

As they search for a provider, lawyers and firms should ask about deadline policies. This can help them determine whether they will face pushback from a provider on days when they racing to meet a deadline.

Minimizing Risk by Hiring Experience

Organizing appeal documents can be a complex task—one that can put cases and reputations at risk if done improperly. Complying with court rules and styling requirements is crucial, and firms and attorneys should ask appellate contractors deep questions about their resources, track records, timelines, and quality control. An experienced provider like PHP will be able to guide them around procedural pitfalls, meet deadlines, and ensure accuracy—saving them and their clients time and major headaches in court.

Learn more about PHP’s lengthy appellate service track record by visiting our Who We Are page, or contact us for a consultation.

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