In today’s episode I speak with not one but two Texas appellate lawyers, Jody Sanders and D. Todd Smith. You may know them as the co-hosts of the Texas Appellate Law Podcast which is a weekly podcast dedicated to demystifying the appellate process and encourage best practices in litigation and appeals.
But that is just their side hustle. In his day job, Jody Sanders is a Partner at Kelly Hart where he represents clients at all stages of litigation in trial courts throughout Texas, as well as appeals and original proceedings in Texas's intermediate courts of appeals, the Texas Supreme Court, and federal appellate courts. He also frequently assists other litigators in drafting dispositive motions, ensuring error preservation, and handling trial and post-trial proceedings to prepare for a potential appeal. He has handled cases in wide-ranging substantive areas of law.
D. Todd Smith is a civil appellate specialist at Butler Snow LLP in Austin, Texas. Todd moved to Butler Snow after spending 15 years building and managing my own appellate firm. He has extensive experience representing clients as lead appellate counsel and has briefed and argued multiple cases before the Texas Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He also works with trial teams in all phases of civil litigation, often taking the lead on strategic analysis and briefing, jury charges, and potentially dispositive motions, all with a focus on preserving error and positioning cases for appellate review. He is active in legal organizations including the ABA, Texas, State Bar and the Austin Bar Association where he was the past president.
In our conversation we discuss their different paths to becoming appellate practitioners in Texas, the day-to-day life of an appelalte attorney in Texas, the value of judicial clerkships (especially in state courts), the power of finding a practice area the matches your skill set, some of the quirks of Texas appellate process, the importance of junior lawyers building relationships with senior lawyers and senior lawyers building relationships with junior lawyers, techniques for effective brief writing including the importance of tables of contents and topic sentences, and what they have learned from their excellent and informative podcast.
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This episode is sponsored, edited, and engineered by LawPods, a professional podcast production company for busy attorneys.