New Hampshire Bar Association
About the Bar
For Members
For the Public
Legal Links
Online Store
Vendor Directory
NH Bar Foundation
Judicial Branch

Clio is the most widely-used, cloud-based practice management system in the world.

Trust your transactions to the only payment solution recommended by over 50 bar associations.
New Hampshire Bar Association
Lawyer Referral Service Law Related Education NHBA CLE NHBA Insurance Agency
Member Login
Member Portal

Bar News - May 20, 2015

Court News: Five Insights on Appellate Practice


All five justices of the NH Supreme Court attended the NHBA CLE Appellate Advocacy program April 8 and participated in a question-and-answer session with the audience, providing some valuable practice tips and techniques.

Some of the especially practical advice came from Associate Justice James Bassett, the newest justice appointed in 2012, and the only justice who came directly to the appellate bench from trial practice.

1. Choose language carefully. Avoid using the phrase “abuse of discretion” when criticizing a lower court decision. Refer to it as an “unsustainable exercise of discretion.”

2. Save paper. Lengthy appendices add weight but not substance. Bassett admitted that as an attorney, he submitted large appendices that, as a judge, he finds unwarranted.

3. Consider “What next?” If the judges were to accept your view, be prepared to answer in oral argument how that ruling might be applied in other cases. “Consider the implications,” said Justice Robert Lynn.

4. Provide guidance. Bassett said judges welcome advocates’ advice as to whether a decision should be narrowly or broadly written. “Advise me where to draw the line,” he said.

5. Reserve time for rebuttal. If you are the appealing party, you can ask to save time for rebuttal. However, only use it if truly necessary to clarify a point or to highlight an issue not covered, not to repeat a main point. “It’s one thing to reserve time; it’s another to use it,” Bassett cautioned.

The Appellate Advocacy CLE program, including the question and answer session, is available for credit online or in other formats. Updated this year is the comprehensive, 294-page Appellate Advocacy Handbook, published by NHBA CLE. Also, a brief, practical guide, aimed at those arguing their first appellate case, is available free for download at

NHLAP: A confidential Independent Resource

Home | About the Bar | For Members | For the Public | Legal Links | Publications | Online Store
Lawyer Referral Service | Law-Related Education | NHBA•CLE | NHBA Insurance Agency | NHMCLE
Search | Calendar

New Hampshire Bar Association
2 Pillsbury Street, Suite 300, Concord NH 03301
phone: (603) 224-6942 fax: (603) 224-2910
© NH Bar Association Disclaimer