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Courts cannot limit 170.6 challenges by local rule

Last updated on May 23, 2024 by Tim Kowal
One reason trial prep is so stressful is you don’t know if you might get a different judge—or if you’ll have the right to make a CCP 170.6 peremptory challenge to the new judge. When you get an all-purpose assignment, you have 10 days to make a challenge. But if you’re in a “master calendar”...Read More >>

Five Hard Truths About an Appellate Practice, with Raffi Melkonian

Last updated on March 26, 2024 by Tim Kowal
Raffi Melkonian has argued and won in the U.S. Supreme Court, and started the #AppellateTwitter community of appellate attorneys on Twitter/X, where he has over 65,000 followers, and speaks and writes on appeals across the country. And Raffi is here to tell you that building a business on an appellate practice—even a very successful one—is...Read More >>

Judges Use Clearbrief & So Should You, with Jackie Schafer

Last updated on September 19, 2023 by Tim Kowal
Among the hundreds of great new legal tech available in recent years, Clearbrief stands near the top. Jackie Schafer, a former big-law and state attorney general who had a vision of attorneys and their staff working more effectively and efficiently, designed an app that lives right in your Microsoft Word. Clearbrief lets you upload your...Read More >>

Thinking About Judicial Pay, with Troy Shelton

Last updated on May 23, 2023 by Tim Kowal
The National Center of State Courts recently published its 2023 rankings of judicial salaries, with California and DC trading #1 and #2 spots. At a mean national judicial salary of around $174,000, by starting out in a modest condo and scrimping and saving, a judge in California might achieve the dream of homeownership just before...Read More >>

Litigation Is Not a Battle, It's an Expedition, Says Justice Lambden

Last updated on October 31, 2022 by Tim Kowal
“Are you one of them liberal judges?” someone once asked Justice Lambden. Calling himself a “process judge,” Justice Lambden responded, “Well, if Congress passed a liberal law, I’d enforce it. If it passed a conservative law, then I’d enforce that.” Still, most judges want to get the “right result.” What does this mean for litigators?...Read More >>

“Gateway Drugs” to Legal Tech, with Ernie Svenson

Last updated on October 25, 2022 by Tim Kowal
We attorneys are trained to spot patterns, but many of us are poor at spotting patterns of inefficiency in the way we practice. Ernie “The Attorney” Svenson joins this episode of the California Appellate Law Podcast to explain how lawyers can adopt “systems thinking” to make their practice more effective, efficient, and even more fun....Read More >>

How Legal Tech is Leveling the Legal Playing Field, with Casetext Co-Founder Pablo Arredondo

Last updated on June 15, 2022 by Tim Kowal
The Co-Founder of Casetext, Pablo Arredondo, explains how legal technology that is available today will allow solos and small firms to compete against Big Law. Tim and Jeff talk with Pablo about: Why Artificial Intelligence—which didn’t work well for a long time—now makes it much, much easier to find the legal authority you’re looking for....Read More >>

The Parable of the Principled Client

Last updated on April 30, 2021 by Tim Kowal
Client asks an attorney to file a lawsuit over a business dispute. "Your lawsuit has merit," the attorney says, "but it will cost more than it is worth. Based on my normal fee it would not make sense." "I understand, but this is about vindicating a principle." While considering this a bit irrational, attorney says...Read More >>

“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?”

— James Madison, Federalist 62

"God made the angels to show Him splendor, … Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind."

— Sir Thomas More in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons

"Upon putting laws into writing, they became even harder to change than before, and a hundred legal fictions rose to reconcile them with reality."

— Will Durant

"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws."

— Plato (427-347 B.C.)

"It may be that the court is thought to be excessively legalistic. I should be sorry to think that it is anything else."

— Hon. Sir Owen Dixon, Chief Justice of Australia

"At common law, barratry was 'the offense of frequently exciting and stirring up suits and quarrels' (4 Blackstone, Commentaries 134) and was punished as a misdemeanor."

Rubin v. Green (1993) 4 Cal.4th 1187

"A judge is a law student who grades his own papers."

— H.L. Mencken

Show neither partiality to the weak nor deference to the mighty, but judge your fellow men justly.


"So far as the beginnings of law had theories, the first theory of liability was in terms of a duty to buy off the vengeance of him to whom an injury had been done whether by oneself or by something in one's power. The idea is put strikingly in the Anglo-Saxon legal proverb, 'Buy spear from side or bear it,' that is, buy off the feud or fight it out."

— Roscoe Pound, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law

"Counsel on the firing line in an actual trial must be prepared for surprises, including requests for amendments of pleading. They cannot ask that a judgment afterwards obtained be set aside merely because their equilibrium was slightly disturbed by an unexpected motion."

Posz v. Burchell (1962) 209 Cal.App.2d 324, 334

"Moot points have to be settled somehow, once they get thrust upon us. If an assertion cannot be proved, then it must be settled some other way, and nearly all of these ways are unfair to somebody."

—T.H. White, The Once and Future King

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