Federal Appellate Practice, Second Edition

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This is an essential step-by-step guide to handling federal appellate matters, including statutes, procedure, pitfalls, techniques, and opportunities. The comprehensive treatise covers strategies in district court to preserve issues for appeal, problems of appealability, brief writing, and more. The book also explores case law and highlights comments made by judges in appellate decisions to shed light on what works, and what does not, in handling appeals.

Philip Allen Lacovara


A practical manual on handling federal appellate matters, especially civil appeals and cases involving review of federal administrative agencies.   

Federal Appellate Practice discusses applicable provisions of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, jurisdictional and procedural statutes, practice tips and techniques, important case rulings, and unusual local circuit rules and internal operating procedures.

The Second Edition addresses significant amendments to both the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure and the local rules of various circuits. Additionally, it incorporates an enormous volume of opinions since the first edition was released, many of which speak to topics discussed in virtually every chapter. It also updates the state of the law and captures many of the comments made in appellate decisions, including in unpublished orders, reflecting the views of particular circuits or judges about what works, and what does not, in handling appeals.

This valuable resource goes deeper than purely legal treatises that only collect cases and discuss “the holding.” This treatise draws upon the experience of more than a dozen partners and counsel in Mayer Brown’s Supreme Court and Appellate Practice Group to provide commentary on the most effective ways to handle each step of the process, explaining pitfalls, techniques, and opportunities that may not be apparent from merely reading technical rules.

The Second Edition explores new and expanded topics, including:

  • Necessary steps in the district court to preserve issues for appeal
  • Problems of appealability—and solutions
  • Mechanics of preparing the record and appendix
  • Motion practice before the court of appeals
  • Availability of extraordinary writs
  • Particular strategies for opening, responsive and reply briefs
  • Role and structure of amicus curiae briefs
  • Preparing and delivering oral arguments
  • Seeking or opposing costs and attorney’s fees
  • Seeking rehearing
  • Considering Supreme Court review
  • Principles and the most modern techniques for effective appellate brief writing

The Second Edition also covers special issues involving review of administrative agency decisions, criminal appeals and practice before the Federal Circuit.


Bloomberg BNA authors and editors are practicing professionals with insider perspectives and real-life experience. Learn more about this book’s authors and editors.

Mayer Brown, LLP


Philip Allen Lacovara is senior counsel in Mayer Brown LLP’s New York office.



View full tables of contents and read the book’s preface or introduction.


Read what others have to say about this Bloomberg BNA book.

Mayer Brown has produced a guide that every appellate lawyer should read—and that every client should expect to see on his lawyer's shelf. From the soup of preserving issues at trial to the nuts of how to get Supreme Court review, it's all here. Good legal writing starts with good writing, as the authors wisely counsel, and this guide is as informative and easy to read as the briefs its authors regularly produce.

Alex Kozinski

Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

A superb, indispensable resource for any federal appellate lawyer...

Professor Eugene Volokh

UCLA Law School, Editor of the Volokh Conspiracy blog, and academic consultant to Mayer Brown LLP

If they have space for just one treatise to guide their practice, appellate lawyers, both federal and state, would be well advised to keep Mayer Brown’s Federal Appellate Practice (2d Ed.) at their fingertips for frequent reference in every appeal they handle. From the esoterica and traps for the unwary contained in FRAP and sometimes inconsistent circuit rules to the outstanding tips on how to write and argue your case in a way that catches the attention of the busy appellate judge, this work has it all. As the Preface to the Second Edition notes, the proliferation of federal appellate decisions in recent years is nothing short of astonishing – yet the number of judges is essentially unchanged. That means practitioners must be ever vigilant to comply with all procedural rules, no matter how byzantine, while at the same time giving the court a submission that the judges actually enjoy. The best appellate lawyering is not easy but this work will give you a leg up on winning your case. No appellate library should be without it.

Judge Kathryn A. Oberly

District of Columbia Court of Appeals