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How to Find a Federal Appeals Lawyer

Linda Julin McNamara
Attorney Linda Julin McNamara
Federal Appeals Team Lead
Former Deputy Chief, Appellate Division
Elizabeth Stepp
Attorney Elizabeth K. Stepp
Federal Appeals Team
Partner & Yale Graduate

If the outcome of your federal criminal case is not what you wanted it to be, there may be grounds to appeal it to the federal Circuit Court in your area. If you decide to do this, though, you will want to be represented by a law firm that has experience at the appellate level. The appeals process is completely different from the trial and requires a totally different set of skills.

Finding a federal appeals lawyer, however, is not as easy as it may seem. Finding the right one to handle your case is even more difficult.

The federal appeals lawyers at Oberheiden P.C. have lots of experience handling these complex and important cases. With our help, numerous criminal defendants facing a wide range of serious charges have successfully invoked their rights to have a federal appellate court review their conviction or sentence.

Here are four points that our attorneys recommend when looking for the right federal appeals lawyer for your case.

1. Nothing Replaces Federal Appellate Experience

Most importantly, the federal appeals process is different from the pre-trial and trial procedures in federal district court, as well as from the appeals process in state courts. Attorneys who tout their experience in the state court system or in a federal district court are unlikely to be the best fit for your case on appeal.

Handling your appeal is completely different than handling your trial. The trial is where the facts of the case are at the forefront. Good attorneys investigate the factual circumstances of your case with a fine-toothed comb and use the rules of evidence to get those that are favorable to your case into the courtroom and keep the incriminating details out.

On appeal, the facts are no longer in dispute. Instead, your appellate lawyer will be tasked with arguing over nuanced and very specific aspects of federal criminal law. Trial lawyers have to be engaging speakers and cover lots and lots of ground. Appellate attorneys do not have to worry about explaining complex topics to a jury that may not understand them – instead, they have to delve deeply into complicated legal issues and persuade judges that are extremely well-versed on the subject at hand.

Federal appellate experience also counts for more than experience in state appellate courts. State and federal law and procedure have important differences. State appeals lawyers will often find themselves struggling to acclimate to the federal criminal justice system. Furthermore, federal cases involve some of the most powerful law enforcement agencies in the world on the other side of the courtroom, increasing the pressure that your defense firm will be under. Lawyers and firms that focus on state criminal cases often find that pressure to be more than they are used to handling.

2. An Appeals Lawyer Should Have Experience With Cases Like Yours

It makes little sense hiring an appeals lawyer who does not have extensive experience handling similar cases to your own. A tax lawyer with experience in federal appellate courtrooms will still be out of his or her element in a criminal case involving something as dissimilar as healthcare fraud.

This makes it crucially important to get an attorney or law firm with a reputation for success in cases that are similar to your own.

The appeals lawyers at Oberheiden P.C. have helped clients appeal their convictions or sentences in a wide variety of criminal cases, including:

  • Drug offenses, from possession to trafficking
  • Violent crimes, from assault to manslaughter to murder
  • White collar crime
  • Mail fraud and wire fraud
  • Healthcare fraud
  • Securities fraud
  • Public corruption
  • Bribery
  • Intellectual property offenses
  • Computer fraud
  • Insurance fraud
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) fraud
  • Medicare fraud
  • Conspiracy
  • Antitrust
  • Tax evasion

These are just a few of the types of cases that our attorneys have handled in Circuit Courts across the country.

By seeking out a lawyer with experience handling cases that are similar to yours in federal appellate courtrooms, you can get the informed legal guidance that you need at this important time in your criminal case.

3. Ask for References, But Do Not Follow Them Blindly

You can also find a federal appeals lawyer by asking your trial attorney for a reference or recommendation. Many trial lawyers have one or several appellate attorneys that they know and trust to handle their cases that go on appeal. In some law firms, there will even be an appellate department that is built to provide representation for the later stages of cases handled by the firm.

Just because your trial lawyer gave you a recommendation, though, does not mean that you have to follow it without doing your own due diligence. In fact, you should always do your own investigation to ensure that the appellate attorney that you end up hiring is one who will actually be able to provide you the legal guidance that you will need to succeed.

If you do get a reference for an appellate lawyer, check his or her credentials. Look for appropriate experience in federal court. Make sure that they have past cases in the same field of law as your case. Read the testimonials that prior clients have left them.

4. Client Testimonials Matter

Those client testimonials are also important when you are looking for a federal appeals lawyer. By reading about the experience that prior clients had, you can get a basic idea of what you can expect, yourself.

Importantly, you want to read both the good and the bad. The good client testimonials will likely be prominently displayed on the law firm’s website. While it may seem fruitless to do more than scan these, read through them for a sign that the firm has actually handled a case that is similar to your own and succeeded with it.

You will also want to read the bad reviews, as well. These may be more difficult to find. When you do dig them out, though, remember that bad reviews of lawyers are often uninformed ones. Every lawyer has at least one story of securing a surprisingly positive result in what was generally regarded to be a hopeless case, only for the client to leave a bad review complaining that the attorney was not completely successful.

Put our highly experienced team on your side

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Dr. Nick Oberheiden



Lynette S. Byrd
Lynette S. Byrd

Former DOJ Trial Attorney


Brian J. Kuester
Brian J. Kuester

Former U.S. Attorney

Amanda Marshall
Amanda Marshall

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Joe Brown
Joe Brown

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

John W. Sellers
John W. Sellers

Former Senior DOJ Trial Attorney

Linda Julin McNamara
Linda Julin McNamara

Federal Appeals Attorney

Aaron L. Wiley
Aaron L. Wiley

Former DOJ attorney

Local Counsel

Roger Bach
Roger Bach

Former Special Agent (DOJ)

Chris Quick
Chris J. Quick

Former Special Agent (FBI & IRS-CI)

Michael S. Koslow
Michael S. Koslow

Former Supervisory Special Agent (DOD-OIG)

Ray Yuen
Ray Yuen

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

Some Frequently Asked Questions About the Federal Appeals Process and How Oberheiden P.C. Can Guide You Through It

Why Should I Trust My Appeal to Oberheiden P.C.?


Because our attorneys all have extensive experience in federal court, including at the appellate levels. With a large roster of senior-level lawyers – all of whom have more than a decade practicing in federal courtrooms – you can rest assured that someone in your jurisdiction will have already represented someone who has faced similar legal issues to your own.

Furthermore, our law firm has amassed a huge number of testimonials from happy clients in the past. These are defendants that we have helped during their appeal, securing a wide variety of successful outcomes, including:

  • Reduced sentences
  • New trials
  • Reversals on important legal issues

With our help, these defendants have been able to right the wrongs made during their trial and continue the fight for their freedom.

What is a Circuit Court?


The Circuit Court is where your appeal will be heard. There are 13 Circuit Courts in the U.S. Most of them have jurisdiction over three or more states in the country. All of them are filled with some of the most capable judges in the entire United States.

Importantly, these Circuit Courts do not conduct trials. The trial that you had at the district court level will be your only trial – unless you successfully overturn the outcome of that trial on appeal and the judges on the Circuit Court order you a new one back at the district court level.

Instead, the Circuit Court will review the district court’s ruling against you for an error or an abuse of its discretion. It is up to you to prove that the district court made such a mistake. Your entire appeal will focus on that singular issue.

How Quickly Do I Need to Decide Whether to File an Appeal?


You need to decide whether you want to file an appeal in your case or not very quickly. Under Rule 4(b) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, you only have 14 days from the district court’s ruling to file a Notice of Appeal.

You need to act quickly if you want to preserve your right to appeal the outcome of your case.

Why Doesn’t Oberheiden P.C. Call Itself the Best Federal Appeals Law Firm?


Because we prefer to let our clients’ testimonials vouch for our reputation in federal appellate courts. Their opinion means far more than ours do, in that regard.

The Federal Appeals Lawyers at Oberheiden P.C.

Finding a good federal appeals lawyer for your particular case is not always easy. However, by using these four tips, you should be able to at least make a more informed decision about who to hire to represent you in Circuit Court on your appeal.

If you want the federal appeals lawyers from Oberheiden P.C. on your side for this stage of your case, contact us online or call our law office at (888) 680-1745.

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