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Appellate Law

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Scott D. Helsel

Walton & Adams PC
Reston

Title: Principal
Other legal specialties:  Eminent domain and real estate litigation; employment litigation; general commercial and business litigation
Birthplace:  Doylestown, Pa.
Education: Elizabethtown College, bachelor’s degree; Marshall-Wythe School of Law, College of William & Mary, law degree
Spouse: Jennifer
Children: Katie and Claire
Hobbies or pastimes: Playing guitar; cooking; coaching my daughter’s rec soccer team; cheering on both of my daughters in their activities
Fan of:  We root for all the Washington, D.C., teams.
First job as a lawyer:  I had the privilege of clerking for Justice Henry Whiting on the Supreme Court of Virginia.  That was a great way to begin my legal career and has helped shape how I view appeals and present arguments.
Favorite vacation spot:  Duck, N.C.
Recently read books:  My wife and I always have a friendly competition on vacation to see who can read more mystery novels while sitting on the beach.  She’s a really fast reader, so I often lose.  We’re trying to get our daughters to join in the competition.
Career mentor:  After clerking for Justice Whiting, I worked at a large firm in Washington D.C.   I’ve been fortunate to have a number of great lawyers help me along the way.

How is appellate law different from other legal specialties? 
Appellate law can seem detached and intellectual since the factual record has already been created.  But that doesn’t mean the appellate lawyer’s job as storyteller is any less.  An appellate lawyer must know the record in detail, determine what parts are most important and then weave those facts together with the relevant legal principles to present a compelling legal argument that humanizes your client’s problem and explains why your client should prevail.     

What has been your most memorable case? 
One case (it was not an appeal) involved a title dispute, which required detailed research into deeds and land grants going back to the 1700s.  It would have been great if we could have called the Earl of Tankerville, John Marshall and other Colonial-era contemporaries as witnesses.


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