Membership Overview

Membership in the Academy is by Election Only


In order to be eligible for election to membership in the Academy, an attorney must be a member of the California Bar in good standing who has shown to the satisfaction of the Academy that he or she possesses each of the following qualifications: (1) good character and professional reputation, (2) outstanding appellate ability, and (3) a continuing commitment to quality appellate practice.

An applicant must have been a member of the bar for not fewer than 10 years, and must certify that he or she has a predominantly appellate practice, meaning that the applicant spends more than half of his or her time on appellate work in a typical year. One way that an applicant may bolster his or her showing of a "predominantly appellate practice" is by certifying that he or she has been lead counsel in 20 or more specifically identified appeals or writ proceedings and has argued orally in 10 or more specifically identified appeals or writ proceedings. But the Academy will consider any other evidence of a predominantly appellate practice.

To the extent an applicant wishes to make a numerical showing, lead counsel is defined as the attorney who has personally (1) read or directed the review of the record on appeal, (2) performed or directed the principal legal research, and (3) been the principal author of all the briefs. An appeal is defined as a proceeding on the merits before an appellate court which has been fully briefed and either is pending, or has been terminated by decision or settlement. Writ proceedings are defined as proceedings which have been substantially briefed by both sides and decided on the merits. A proceeding that has been reviewed by more than one appellate court shall count as one proceeding.

For purposes of ascertaining length of time as a member of the Bar, the time spent by a prospective Member as a clerk to a judge of an appellate court shall be counted, even though during such time of employment as clerk the prospective Member was not yet admitted to the Bar. A retired judicial applicant must have been lead counsel in at least 5 appeals or writs, and orally argued at least 5 appeals or writs, after retirement from the bench.

Required Documents

You must submit copies of all "principal briefs" filed by each party in each of three different appellate cases (appeals or writs) in which you were the lead appellate counsel and in which a final decision has been rendered. The required "principal briefs" include the following: (1) all briefs on the merits in an appeal; (2) the petition and any oppositions and replies in a writ proceeding; and (3) all petitions for review, petitions for writ of certiorari and answers and replies thereto. In addition, please submit all written court opinions in each case. Amicus briefs and answers need not be submitted unless an answer written by the applicant significantly affected the outcome of the case. Procedural motions, requests for judicial notice, and petitions for rehearing and answers (unless rehearing is granted or the opinion materially modified) need not be submitted.

All submissions shall be made as searchable PDFs, which may be uploaded at the Academy’s website. In addition, the President may ask you for up to five complete sets of hard copies for distribution to the relevant membership committee. The President, at the request of the relevant Membership Committee, may also ask you to submit additional materials.

The three cases should be closely contested and as recent as possible. They should include at least one case in which your client was the appellant or writ petitioner. The cases need not involve lengthy briefs or multiple parties; in fact, the Membership Committee appreciates brevity. Finally, and most importantly, the briefs you submit should reflect your personal work as lead counsel. Where additional law firms or members of your firm appear on the caption along with your name, please explain the nature of your personal contribution to the document.

Application Process

The application process is conducted entirely online, and according to these steps:

  1. Applicant creates an account, including an email-verification step.
  2. Applicant uploads documents, including completed application form and supporting case documents, and submits the package for review.

The Academy will carefully review the application package, and may sometimes request additional information. This typically takes several months. The Academy transmits admission decisions confidentially to each applicant.

Application Form

You will need to fill out and upload a copy of this membership application form to your website account while as part of your application package:

You may use either the Word .doc or .PDF version.

CAAL Membership Application (.docx)
CAAL Membership Application (.pdf)

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