Appellate. Strategy...Support...Solutions.

Cowles & Thompson was one of the FIRST law firms in Dallas to recognize the value that appellate counsel can bring at all stages of litigation. Working closely with trial counsel, we identify pivotal legal issues to the success of the case. Early strategic targeting of these issues can lead to early resolution of the case, avoid the need for an appeal altogether, or result in success on appeal if an appeal is taken - all results that ultimately keep costs lower for our clients.

Appellate practitioners possess skills and experience distinctly different from the skills and experience of a trial practitioner. Our Appellate Practice Group actively tracks changes and trends in the law, sometimes even anticipating changes that benefit a specific case. Many of these decisions are reported by the Group on a blog at The Group develops theories and legal research necessary to write briefs that are not only persuasive but interesting to the intended audience – trial and appellate judges and their staff – who are often drowning in a sea of cookie-cutter briefs. Our appellate attorneys are strong writers, and understand firsthand the types of concise, intelligent arguments the courts expect. The Group's best oral advocates are used to present the most compelling appellate argument. The next result is advocacy that maximizes the likelihood of a favorable appellate decision. TWO of our appellate lawyers – Mike Northrup and Hilaree Casada – have achieved distinction as demonstrated by their Board Certification by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Civil Appellate Law.

While our Appellate Practice Group is often retained to handle post-judgment proceedings and appeals, the Group also provides vital support to the trial team in the early pre-trial stages of a case as well as during trial. Before trial, the Group often reviews pleadings, prepares law-intensive, dispositive motions, handles temporary injunctions, drafts motions to exclude expert testimony, and drafts trial briefs. In addition, the Group is positioned to handle extraordinary or emergency appellate review of some types of game-changing pre-trial rulings in a case. Other important trial functions include preparation of the court’s charge and making objections to the charge. Some clients also like the presence of appellate counsel at the trial itself to assist in preserving complaints for review on appeal. Other clients have used our Appellate Practice Group’s services to get a second opinion as to the merits of a potential appeal. Finally, the Group has prepared amicus (friend-of-the-court) briefs for trade associations, special interest groups, and other parties interested in a particular appeal.

Our appellate attorneys have appellate experience at all levels in federal and state courts. They have appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the Texas Supreme Court, and all FOURTEEN Texas intermediate courts of appeals.

The Appellate Practice Group brings a variety of experiences to bear on their tasks. The issues the Group has handled on appeal are as diverse as the Firm’s litigation practice. Included among the more than FIVE HUNDRED appellate matters the Group has handled are:

  • Administrative law
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Asylum
  • Aviation
  • Bankruptcy
  • Business disputes
  • Class action
  • Commercial disputes
  • Construction cases
  • Defamation
  • Default judgments
  • Employment law
  • Family Law
  • Government contracts
  • Insurance matters
  • Oil and gas issues
  • Personal injury claims
  • Products liability and tort cases
  • Professional malpractice claims
  • Real estate disputes
  • Shareholder oppression disputes
  • Trusts and estate issues
  • Wrongful death and survival

Section Head:  R. Michael Northrup