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Appellate Practice

Vandeventer Black’s experience in appellate practice is a long-standing aspect of our litigation strength and depth. We are often asked to handle cases on appeal in both appellate courts and administrative agencies at the state and federal levels.  Not only do we handle appeals of cases in which we were involved at the trial court level, but we also assist trial counsel from other law firms and clients in navigating the appeal process in cases where we were not involved in the lower court.

Whether pursuing an appeal or defending against one, appellate practice and procedure are complicated and it is essential for litigants to have a skilled appellate attorney to help navigate the process. Vandeventer Black’s appellate attorneys have an understanding of the key appellate law concepts such as standards of review and preservation of error, as well as being experienced in appellate advocacy both in appellate brief writing and at oral argument.

Our law firm has several experienced appellate lawyers on its appellate team and regularly serves as appellate counsel in state court and federal court.  We handle appellate work before the Court of Appeals of Virginia and the Supreme Court of Virginia. We have handled appeals before the federal Courts of Appeal for the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, and Federal Circuits and have appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court, where several of our attorneys are licensed to practice. We also frequently appear as appellate counsel before administrative tribunals, including the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals, and the Benefits Review Board. 

A number of our attorneys are former judicial law clerks for appellate judges, including for the Court of Appeals of Virginia and the Supreme Court of Virginia, bringing valuable experience to this growing practice area.

We represent many different types of clients in a large variety of civil appellate matters. Notably, we represent clients on appeal in business disputes, real estate disputestrust and estate disputes, construction disputes, government contracting disputes, insurance matters, maritime matters, transportation law matters, workers’ compensation defense cases, and professional liability defense matters.  We also are available to provide local counsel in appellate matters and to represent non-parties who desire to participate in an appeal in an amicus capacity.

Court of Appeals of Virginia

Because of a recent legislative change, appellate practice before the Court of Appeals of Virginia will take on an increased level of significance for civil litigants, and it is important to have counsel that is well-versed and up-to-date with the Virginia appeals process and Virginia appellate procedure.  Under prior law, most civil litigants who wanted to appeal a trial court’s ruling could only petition the Supreme Court of Virginia to hear their appeal, and most petitions were denied.  However, effective January 2022, the new legislation provides for a right of appeal in all civil and criminal matters.  These appeals will be heard in the Court of Appeals of Virginia, which historically only considered appeals of workers’ compensation, family law, criminal law, and administrative agency rulings.  Thus, it is expected that a significantly higher number of civil trial court rulings will have the opportunity to be heard in full on appeal to a higher court. 

Vandeventer Black has an extensive workers’ compensation practice and has many appellate lawyers who have handled appellate work before the Court of Appeals and that are knowledgeable in its procedures.  Thus, Vandeventer Black is uniquely qualified and well-prepared to handle appellate work for civil cases before the Court of Appeals of Virginia after this significant change in the Virginia appeals process. 

Supreme Court of Virginia

Notwithstanding this significant change, the Supreme Court of Virginia will have continued importance for litigants.  After the Court of Appeals rules, litigants may petition the Supreme Court to evaluate the court’s decision.  However, the appellate advocacy before the Supreme Court has separate rules and procedures.  

Litigants first must pursue or resist an appeal before what is known as the writ panel stage where the appealing party asks a panel of justices to grant their appeal for consideration and ruling by the entire Supreme Court.  Granted appeals are heard and considered before the full 7-member Supreme Court of Virginia.  Aside from the complicated legal issues and the need for extensive legal research to address an appeal, litigants would be well-served to have experienced appellate lawyers who are familiar with the Supreme Court’s rules and practices to assist in navigating this process.

Therefore, with a right of appeal before the Court of Appeals and the prospect of an additional appeal to the Supreme Court of Virginia, many more state civil cases will be heard by at least one appellate court than in years past.  Consequently, Virginia appellate courts and the Virginia appeals process will have greater relevance for litigants in formulating their case strategies.  Many trial teams will need to enlist the assistance of counsel with appellate experience to navigate the complicated appeals process, with consultation in the appellate courts and even potentially in the lower court in preparation for an expected forthcoming appeal.  

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

Vandeventer Black’s appellate team is also experienced in advocacy before the Fourth Circuit appellate court, which handles appeals of federal district court decisions in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  

As with Virginia appellate courts, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has its own rules, practices, and procedures, including Local Rules that supplement the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure.  

It is important for clients to have an attorney who understands the federal circuit court’s rules and procedures.  Vandeventer Black’s appellate team has multiple appellate lawyers with experience in written and oral advocacy before this federal appeals court in several different practice areas including maritime and admiralty, transportation law, government contracting, construction, and in federal workers’ compensation schemes, such as the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.  

The recent legislative changes will compound the complexity of the appellate procedure and its many procedural pitfalls.  Litigators should consider seeking the advice or involvement of counsel who specializes in Virginia appellate procedure and is familiar with these changes and the relevant rules and procedures.  Our firm has been closely following the expansion of the appellate field and evaluating the effects on our practice and clients.

At Vandeventer Black LLP, we stand ready to assist trial lawyers in pursuing or opposing appeals. Based on our history, we are positioned to assist litigants, both our own clients and those represented by other counsel at the trial level. 

Our appellate practice group includes highly accomplished attorneys with AV® Preeminent™ rating, the highest standard based on peer ratings signifying professional excellence in legal knowledge. Our team also has attorneys that are constantly recognized as Best Lawyers in American within the appellate field. Vandeventer Black continuously ranks as a “Best Law Firm,” a recognition awarded by U.S. News-Best Lawyers® signaling a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise. 

Let us help you. Contact us today or request an appointment to speak to any of our appellate team members at 757.446.8600 or email us at vandeventerblack@vanblacklaw.com.

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Articles
What To Expect From The Virginia Supreme Court Regarding Certified Questions Of Law
Appellate Practice
W. Thomas Chappell
*This article was authored with the assistance of Summer Associate, Alexa Kathol Macumber. Alexa is pursuing her JD at the Regent University School of Law. While the vast majority of cases heard by the Supreme Court of Virginia are to review rulings from lower Virginia courts, occasionally the Supreme Court ...
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The New Court of Appeals of Virginia Issues Its First En Banc Ruling, Issuing an Important Ruling on Preservation of Error
Appellate Practice
W. Thomas Chappell
Recently, in Jacks v. Commonwealth, No. 0833-20-3, ___ Va. App. ___ (May 17, 2022), the Court of Appeals of Virginia issued its first en banc ruling since it expanded from 11 to 17 full-time members to accompany the new rights of appeal for civil litigants and criminal defendants.  For more ...
Read More
A Brief Overview of Suspension Bonds and Appeal Bonds for Appeals to the Court of Appeals of Virginia and the Supreme Court of Virginia
Appellate Practice
W. Thomas Chappell
As part of a larger set of articles on appellate practice inspired by the Court of Appeals of Virginia taking on an expanded role, this article will discuss the often-overlooked but important topic of appeal bonds. The term “appeal bond” is frequently used colloquially among the Bar to refer to ...
Read More

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