Frequently Asked Questions


Q:  Do you handle appeals anywhere in Illinois?

A:  Yes. We can handle an appeal from any circuit court (trial court) in Illinois.


Q:  Do you handle appeals from outside of Illinois?

A:  Yes. Appeals from decisions of federal courts in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Illinois come to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, where we handle appeals. However, we handle state court appeals only from Illinois.


Q:  How much does an appeal cost?

A:  The legal fee is mostly a function of how much time will be required to prepare the appeal and depends on a number of factors, including the size of the record, the number of appealable issues, and the complexity of the issues. It is the responsibility of the appellant (the party starting the appeal) to prepare and pay for a complete record for the appellate court. Depending upon the size of the record, the cost may range from several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Those charges are in addition to the legal fee paid to our firm.


Q:  How do you charge?

A:  We usually handle appeals on an hourly basis with a fee cap whenever possible. In other words, we will bill on an hourly rate basis as the work is done, but we will advise you at the beginning of the case of the maximum amount of legal fees that may be incurred to handle the entire appeal from start to finish.


Q:  Do you require a retainer?

A:  Yes. Before we undertake representation in any appeal, we require that a security retainer be deposited in the firm’s client fund account to secure payment of fees and expenses.


Q:  My trial attorney has already filed a notice of appeal but I want a different attorney to handle the case on appeal. Will you do it?

A:  Our case evaluation procedure is the same if a timely notice of appeal has been filed as in other instances.


Q:  Do you take every potential appellate matter offered to the firm?

A:  No. We can handle only a limited volume of appeals. Before accepting representation, we independently assess each potential matter to determine whether there is a meritorious basis for an appeal and whether we can handle the matter in light of our existing caseload.


Q:  I want to appeal a judgment that was entered more than 30 days ago. Can I?

A:  Probably not, but please call to discuss your individual situation.


Q:  Do you represent both appellants and appellees?

A:  Yes, we represent both appellants (the party starting the appeal) and appellees (the party responding to the appeal), as well as intervenors, and amicus curie ("friends of the court").


Q:  Should I hire a different lawyer to handle the appeal than the one who represented me in the trial court?

A:  It is often a good idea to bring in a lawyer who will look at the appeal from a fresh perspective, just as the reviewing court will.


Q:  What is your appellate win-loss record?

A:  No appellate lawyer can ethically promote or discuss an overall so-called "win-loss" record because such numbers are meaningless without knowing the context of the cases involved. For example, statistics show that appellees win on appeal far more frequently than appellants. Accordingly, a lawyer who has represented many more appellants will probably have a smaller percentage of "wins" than a lawyer who has represented many more appellees.


Q:  My appeal is before a court in downstate Illinois. Will it cost more to hire a lawyer from the northern part of the state?

A:  Probably not. Our experience shows that there is not a great difference in the level of legal fees to handle appeals charged by competent and experienced appellate lawyers in different part of the state. We will use standard shipping and mailing services and the charges will not vary greatly depending upon the part of the state where the court is located. The important consideration is selecting the right lawyer for your case, regardless of where the court is located.


Q:  I want to handle my own appeal. Will you "check out" what I do before I file it?

A:  No. We often enter into co-counsel and referral arrangements with other lawyers in appellate matters. However, we do not enter into such arrangements with non-lawyers. Either we are engaged to handle the entire appeal, or not at all.


Q:  How long does an appeal take?

A:  Under court rules, briefing on a typical state court appeal should be completed 21 weeks (almost 5 months) after the notice of appeal is filed. However, extensions of time due to such things as an incomplete record are common in state court appeals and will extend the time period to complete the appeal. The appellate court will usually issue its decision from 3 to 6 months after an appeal is fully briefed, but there is no assurance that the court will act within that period.


Q:  Can my appeal be decided faster?

A:  Maybe. The rules provide that some types of cases (child custody matters, for example), move faster than the typical timetable. However, it is rare for the court to choose to accelerate a case that is not fast-tracked by the rules.


Q:  Can a case be settled even after an appeal is filed?

A:  Yes. Several appellate court systems have mandatory or optional arbitration procedures. We have settled a number of cases during the appeal process. However, if you choose to appeal, you should assume that the appeal will proceed to a decision and you should not depend upon the case being concluded by settlement.


Q:  Will you keep me informed during the appeal?

A:  Yes, we keep you advised of the progress of the matter at every step along the way. If you wish, we will provide a draft of each brief for your input before we file it.


Q:  Do you charge to review a case to determine whether an appeal is feasible?

A:  No, we will review a case free of charge to advise you whether we can undertake the representation.


Q:  Is it necessary to come to your office for a meeting?

A:  No. Most aspects of an appeal deal with analyzing the record, conducting legal research, and crafting legal arguments. In fact, because of the nature of the appellate practice, we often do not meet clients face-to-face from the beginning until the end of the appeal.