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Understand the Mandate Rule to Avoid Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

March 31, 2014

When the appellant wins an appeal, the opinion often ends with two words that sound like music to the victor’s ears: “REVERSED and REMANDED.” But while the vast bulk of the parties’ work aims (understandably) toward the first of those two words, few trial or appellate practitioners devote enough attention to the second. The appellant may know precisely how the district court erred and exactly why it should be reversed, but unless the attorney representing the appellant has given thought to the shape and scope of the possible proceedings on remand, he or she runs the risk of leaving the client worse off than if no appeal had been filed at all.