Should You Represent Yourself on Appeal?

You’re wondering if you should represent yourself on appeal. I’ll spare you the adage. You’re not a fool for considering this option. You’re budget-conscious and intelligent, and you see no reason why you can’t make your case on your own. 

Spoiler alert: you may be able to, but odds are, you’ll give yourself your best shot at success by hiring an attorney trained in the skills that can make a difference to the judges who review your case. The world is full of intelligent people trained and naturally inclined towards different skills. You may be at the top of your occupation, enviable at navigating interpersonal relationships, and awe-inspiring at hobbies—but if your training and experience doesn’t include extensive legal writing, legal research, and oral advocacy to judges, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, headache, and worry—and put yourself in the best position to explain your case to appellate judges—by hiring an attorney whose background matches those skills and whose practice is dedicated to furthering them.

Presenting an appeal smoothly and effectively requires study of the detailed, and sometimes intricate, practical requirements of the rules of appellate procedure, learning the preferences of the court you will be appearing before, and communicating with trial attorneys, clerks’ offices, and court reporters to ensure the appellate court has the basic materials it needs to decide an appeal. Beyond that, it requires study of the trial-court proceedings and the applicable law, and it requires knowledge of how to present an ordered argument—typically free of emotional appeals, which are more likely than not to be considered an unwelcome distraction by an appellate judge—confined to the record of the proceedings below, with due attention to counterarguments and any conflicting law. It sometimes involves an oral presentation to a panel of judges, where you’ll have to be ready to be interrupted with questions you may not want to answer.

Presenting an appeal doesn’t require speaking “legalese.” In fact, attorneys are better off leaving such language out of appellate arguments. However, it does require an understanding of the type of arguments judges are willing and able to consider—arguments based on logic, sound reasoning, and judicial precedent, which generally must have been presented to the trial court; arguments that are directed at showing a legal error made by the trial court, not upsetting a discretionary call by the trial court or presenting new points never raised in the official proceedings below.

Can you handle the responsibility of ensuring a record of the trial court proceedings is properly prepared, studying the record of the trial court proceedings, identifying the best arguments to raise, and presenting them effectively? Maybe so. Is it worth the time and effort it would take for you to learn and accomplish these tasks outside your day job? That’s up to you.

Need help with your appeal?

You can reach out to me via my simple contact form here. **how do you want to say this?**

Need help with your appeal?

You can reach out to me via my simple contact form here. **how do you want to say this?**

Lawton Law, PLLC

Located in Tallahassee. Able to Handle Appeals throughout Florida.




Follow on LinkedIn


The information provided on this site is not legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation. The use of this site, including its contact form, does not constitute an attorney-client relationship with this firm or its attorney.