Civil Appellate Law

At Lawyer Legion, we understand the importance of specialty certification programs. Board certification helps the public find a qualified attorney. Our directory puts a special emphasis on board certification for a specific practice area. 

At last county, Texas had 424 board certified civil appellate law attorneys. The board certification program for civil apellate law was launched in 1987. A practice focused on civil appellate law in Texas involves:

  • legal disputes brought to a civil appellate court either by appeal of a final judgment or by appealable interlocutory order or by an original proceeding in the appellate court; and
  • the preparation and presentation of the court’s charge and of post-trial and other dispositive motions in the trial court.

For these purposes of the board certification requirements, the term "civil appellate courts" includes:

  • the United States Supreme Court;
  • the Federal Court of Appeals;
  • the Texas Supreme Court;
  • the Texas Courts of Appeals; and
  • comparable courts of other jurisdictions.

Standards for Certification in Civil Appellate Law

The public can trust board certification by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) because the certification confirms the attorney has:

  • been practicing law fulltime for at least 5 years as an active member of the State Bar of Texas;
  • at least 3 years of Civil Appellate Law experience, with a yearly minimum of 25% substantial involvement in procedure and substantive law as related to appellate proceedings;
  • handled at least 12 Civil Appellate cases that meet substantive requirements;
  • been vetted by references from judges and lawyers in the area;
  • completed 60 hours of TBLS approved continuing legal education in Civil Appellate Law;
  • meet all of the TBLS Standards for Attorney Certification; and
  • passed a comprehensive 6-hour examination in Civil Appellate Law.

According to Section XII of the Standards for Attorney Certification in Part II, an attorney must show substantial involvement and special competence in civil appellate law practice by providing such information as may be required by TBLS incuding: 

  • the attorney must have devoted a minimum of 25% of his or her time practicing civil appellate law during each year of the 3 years immediately preceding application as defined in Section XII, A of the Specific Area Requirements for Civil Appellate Law
  • the attorney must provide information as required by TBLS concerning specific tasks he or she has performed in civil appellate law. In evaluating experience, TBLS may take into consideration the nature, complexity, and duration of the
    tasks handled by applicant including:
    • handling all or a substantial part of at least 12 civil appellate cases during his or her practice. A case that was submitted to one appellate court and then to a higher court will be considered only one case. Civil appellate cases in which applicant filed a brief or presented oral argument, and original proceedings were filed by applicant in an appellate court (such as petition for writs of mandamus or habeas corpus) are subject to the following additional requirements:
      • All 12 cases must have been fully briefed on the merits at the appellate level;
      • At least 6 of the 12 cases must have been handled by applicant within the 3 years immediately preceding application;
      • Applicant must have been lead counsel in at least 6 of the 12 cases;
      • Applicant must have presented oral argument to an appellate court on one significant issue of substantive or procedural law in at least 4 of the 12 cases;
      • At least 6 of the 12 cases must have involved an appeal from a final judgment or other dispositive order which included a finding on a substantive or procedural issue;
      • In at least 5 of the 12 cases, the appellate court must have issued an opinion on the merits that dealt with at least one substantive issue; and
      • At least 3 of the 12 cases must have involved the prosecution or defense of a petition to the highest court of the jurisdiction to review the decision of an intermediate appellate court.
    • Service as an attorney in an advisory capacity to a civil appellate court (such as a briefing or staff attorney, law clerk, or in another position which requires comparable duties) for at least 5 years may be considered by TBLS as the equivalent of the requirements set out in Section XII, B,1,b(1)(a-g) above.

Exam Specifications in Civil Appellate Law

The purpose of the certification exam is to require an applicant to demonstrate substantial knowledge of significant legal concepts and corresponding skills in civil appellate law.

The exam consists of a three-hour morning session with three essay questions. Essay questions typically include issues concerning error preservation, post-judgment motion practice, appealable judgments and rulings, appellate jurisdiction, appellate standards of review, appellate court relief (appeals and original proceedings), preservation of error, perfecting appeals and appellate court disposition.

An applicant in civil appellate law is expected to understand all aspects of proceedings brought before civil appellate courts. This includes appeals from final judgments and from interlocutory orders as well as original proceedings in appellate courts.

For purposes of the TBLS exam specifications in civil appellate law, a detailed list of knowledge, skills and abilities include:

  • Intentional Torts
  • Negligence
  • Breach of Contract
  • Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act
  • Pre-trial Procedures
    • Appellate remedy provisions of the venue statute (Chapter 15 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code)
    • Interlocutory appeals
    • Preserving appellate complaints
    • Perfecting appeal
    • Obtaining the record
    • Briefing in the Courts of Appeals
    • Briefing in the Texas Supreme Court
    • Re-hearings
    • Original proceedings in appellate court
    • Dismissals (Tex. R. Civ. P. 91a, Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ch. 27)
    • Arbitration
  • Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code provisions regarding malice and punitive damages
  • Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code provisions relating to frivolous law suits
  • Tex. R. Civ. P. 13 9. Appellate Procedure/Preserving Error for Appeal
  • Trial Level Preservation of Error (State and Federal)
    • Pretrial
    • Voir Dire/Trial/Charge
    • Post-Verdict
    • Post-Judgment
    • Offer of Proof/Formal Bill of Exception
    • Default Judgment/DWOPS/Sanctions/Rule 76a Sealing of Court Records
    • Summary Judgments (State and Federal)
    • Appealable Rulings (State and Federal)
      • Interlocutory Rulings/Appeals
      • Final Judgments e. Standards of Appellate Review (State and Federal)
  • Jurisdiction
    • Trial Court plenary power
    • Texas Courts of Appeals, Original, Appellate, Plenary
    • Texas Supreme Court, Original, Appellate, Certified Questions
    • U. S. Courts of Appeals
    • U. S. Supreme Court
  • Perfecting Appeal/Record on Appeal
    • Perfecting (State and Federal), Notice of appeal, affidavit of Indigence, Docketing Statement
    • Clerk's Record
    • Reporter’s Record, General/Necessity, Partial, Agreed, Unavailable, Exhibits
    • Appellate Timetables/Deadlines (State and Federal)
  • Appellate Court Disposition
    • Motions (recusals, extensions, stays, supersedeas, etc.)
    • Opinions/Judgments/Mandates – Effect on subsequent proceedings
    • Motions for Rehearing
      • General Rule
      • Second Motion/En-Banc Motion
      • Federal Cases
    • Petition for Review/Briefs/Motions for Rehearing/Other Texas Supreme Court Proceedings
    • Petition for Cert/Proceedings in U. S. Supreme Court m. Original Proceedings
      • Mandamus
      • Prohibition
      • Habeas Corpus
      • The Record in Original Proceedings
  •  Miscellaneous
    • Effects of Bankruptcy
    • Superseding Judgment/Abstracting/Execution/Enforcement of Judgment
    • Severance
    • Trial and Appellate Proceedings after Remand
    • Remittitur
    • Restricted Appeals/Bills of Review
    • Multi-party and Cross Appeals
    • Harmless vs. Reversible Error
    • Attorney's Fees
    • Retroactivity of Court Decisions
    • Standing to Appeal
    • Res Judicata/Law of the Case
    • Standards for Appellate Conduct/Sanctions on Appeal
    • Punitive Damages
    • Jury Charge
    • Judgment Interest (pre-, post-, calculating interest rates)
  •  Trial Procedure
    • Parties/Pleadings
    • Jurisdiction/Venue
    • Summary Judgments (State and Federal)
    • Jury/Non-Jury
      • Voir Dire, Strikes 
      • Jury Misconduct
      • Charge/Jury Findings/Jury Verdict
      • Findings of Fact/Conclusions of Law
    • Federal Jurisdiction/Removal/Remand
    • Expert Challenges
  •  Injunctive Relief
    • TROs
    • Temporary and Permanent Injunctions 

Additional Resources

Speciality Certification in Civil Appellate Law - Visit the website of the Texas Board of Legal Specialization to find information on the definition of civil appellate law, the standards for certification, and the requirements for qualification. Find out why Texas has more than 400 board certified civil appellate law attorneys.


Finding a Civil Appellate Law Attorney in Texas

At Lawyer Legion, we can help you find an Attorney for Appeals in Texas by using our diretory that puts a special emphasis on certification by TBLS.

A civil appellate law attorney understands error preservation, post-judgment motion practice, appealable judgments and rulings, appellate jurisdiction, appellate standards of review, appellate court relief (appeals and original proceedings), preservation of error, perfecting appeals and appellate court disposition.


This article was last updated on Friday, December 20, 2019.