Linda Ann Wells

Appellate practice firm Crabtree & Auslander has snagged former Third District Court of Appeal Judge Linda Ann Wells, who became the court’s first female chief judge in 2011.

Wells said she chose to join Crabtree & Auslander because she sought a high-quality firm that concentrated on appellate work. She had worked with name partner Charles Auslander in the 1980s when she was in the appellate group of the Fine Jacobson law firm. And she knew of the work of John Crabtree, the firm’s managing partner, from when she was an appellate attorney.

Wells became one of Fine Jacobson’s first female partners and its principal appellate practitioner. She left there for Holland & Knight and later moved to Russo, Wells & Associates. In the 1990s, she and Auslander again worked together when Auslander was district administrator for Miami-Dade Department of Children and Families and Wells was chief district legal counsel. She left that job in 2003 when she was appointed to the appellate bench by Gov. Jeb Bush. She was chief judge from 2011 to 2013, and retired from the bench in March.

In May, Gov. Rick Scott appointed Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Norma Lindsey to the Third District Court of Appeal to replace Wells.

“Linda brings in-depth knowledge of the judicial system and sweeping legal expertise to our practice areas—appeals and class actions,” Crabtree said in a statement. “Her focus and dedication to practice and professionalism fit perfectly with Crabtree & Auslander’s mission of providing top-tier, specialized legal services.”

Crabtree & Auslander will leverage Wells’ judicial experience as a way for clients and other lawyers to get insight into how appellate judges will view issues and arguments raised by litigating parties, how best to respond to opposing arguments and to anticipate which issues are most likely to be of concern to appellate judges.

“I’m in a good position to review briefs and prepare people to assist them in making their briefs more pointed, to guide them for what a judge would be looking for, and to help them prepare for oral argument,” Wells said. “I think I’m in a position to help people prepare themselves to make an effective argument to the court.”

Wells will be a consultant for briefs and even live moot court for other firms handling their own appeals. Wells’ will also provide counsel on how to reverse adverse judgments, which is the most critical issue for appeal.