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Jane Larrington - Appellate Advocacy  

This guide is designed to support the Thomas Jefferson School of Law course Appellate Advocacy.
Last Updated: Aug 30, 2009 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Books on Appellate Advocacy Generally

Cover Art
Appellate advocacy in a nutshell - Alan D. Hornstein
Call Number: KF9050.Z9 H668
ISBN: 0314223789

Cover Art
A practical guide to appellate advocacy, 2d ed. - Mary Beth Beazley
Call Number: KF251.B42 2006
ISBN: 0735553777


Legal Periodicals

Legal periodicals provide a wealth of sophisticated and detailed legal analysis. Typically, law review or law journal articles address a single topic or subtopic in great depth. If legal scholars have written on your topic, you should take pains to identify those articles. You will likely want to cite to those articles in your paper. Additionally, if you hope to write a publishable article, you will need to differentiate your arguments from arguments that have already been made on the subject.

Here are a few legal periodical titles specific to this area of law. Remember that general interest law reviews may also have published articles on your topic, so it is wise to run searches in the larger combined databases on Westlaw and Lexis to ensure that you do not miss any important articles.

The journal of appellate practice and process     Westlaw  Lexis  Hein  Print

American Journal of Trial Advocacy      Westlaw  Lexis  Hein  Print
Journal of Legal Advocacy and Practice    Westlaw Lexis Hein  Print


Preliminary Research

Secondary sources

Monographs, hornbooks, treatises, practice guides, internet sources, and databases (Westlaw & Lexis)

Secondary sources are an excellent place to begin your research. Start with books that provide a broad overview or introduction to the topic. Use these resources to become familiar with the major issues and sources of law that govern the subject. Make notes as you read, including citations to governing primary law as well as your thoughts on potential paper topics. Then, move on to more specific books or look for articles that provide the depth of treatment you will need to fully understand and address your topic.  Below are some of the major titles in the subject area.  To find additional titles, browse through the library stacks around the titles listed below or do a keyword search on Thomcat, the library catalog.

Web Links on Appellate Advocacy, Generally

  • Appellate Counselor Home Page
    Great site that contains a monthly newsletter (The Appellate Decisions Noted, which concentrates on decisions from federal & state courts in California), sample appellate memos & tips page, forms for civil appeals, and links to other Internet resources on the subject.
  • The Appellate Law & Practice Blog
    A blog devoted to appellate law and advocacy.

Primary Law Sources

Primary law governing this area of law includes the federal and state court rules, statutes, and case law. In reviewing the seminal secondary sources, you should have already gathered citations to relevant code and rule sections as well as major case law.  Relevant federal resources are listed below. State court rules, codes, and cases can be located in the California collection and in the state code section on the 2nd floor.

Once you have reviewed those sources, you can use the Library References and Annotations section that often follows an annotated code section, to help you expand your research. Once you have reviewed several of the major cases, use the Headnotes of those cases to identify relevant Digest Topic and Key Numbers and use those to expand your case law research. Additionally, you can run a citator (Shepard’s & KeyCite) report for the cases you have already identified, in order to expand your case law research.  


United States Code  KF62 .A2

United States Code Annotated  KF62 1927 .W45

United States Code Service  KF62 1972 .L38


United States Supreme Court Reports KF101 .A314

Federal Reporter KF105 .F42

Federal Supplement KF120 .F42


Expanding Your Research

Searching ThomCat

Search ThomCat, the TJSL Library catalog at: You may run a keyword search for a specific subtopic (e.g., brief writing) or use relevant Library of Congress subject headings some of which are listed below to expand your search:
Appellate courts
Appellate procedure
Civil procedure     
Courts of last resort
Criminal procedure     
Oral Pleading
Trial practice
United States Supreme Court

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Adding the tab called Moot Court (click on Add a Tab on the far right of your Westlaw window, select the middle tab called Add Westlaw Tabs, and find Moot Court) will give you quick access to many of the relevant databases, including secondary and primary sources. Look for texts and treatises, encyclopedias (Am.Jur. or C.J.S.), and law reviews and journals.

Note: Reading someone else’s brief can give you some great ideas for structuring your own, so you should look at Briefs databases for examples of similar arguments or causes of action. Remember, though, that these briefs are only as good as the lawyer who wrote them. Do not use them as a substitute for your own legal research and analysis.

Navigate to the Litigation section of the Directory for access to even more relevant databases. Finally, you can try searching the Directory for relevant terms like “appellate advocacy,” “trial advocacy,” “appellate briefs.” These strategies will also work for locating primary law on Westlaw, including federal appellate cases, Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, and U.S. and California Supreme Court briefs.




Click on the Research Tasks tab and select Federal Litigation or California Litigation for easy access to many of the relevant databases. Look for treatises, encyclopedias, law reviews and journals, and briefs. You may also click on the Find a Source tab and type in “appellate advocacy” or a similar topic to retrieve materials. These same strategies will work for finding primary law on Lexis, including appellate cases, court rules, and briefs.


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