Should I represent myself on appeal?

Answer: The short answer is: yes, but it may cost you alot more to represent yourself than to have counsel.

At the magistrate level, the proceedings are relatively informal. However, on appeal, the litigants are asking the courts to be more involved in their case and, thus, the courts will expect you to do more to prepare your case to narrow your issues for disposition.

Do not want to waste your valuable time trying to figure out what would take a lawyer a few minutes to do. For example, if you needed a new transmission in your car, you could buy some books on how to do it yourself, but why would you? Overall, the enormous investment of your personal time would not be justified, most likely.

Here are some examples of the complexities you face once an appeal is taken from a relatively informal small claims (magistrate) decision:

Pleadings.
The Courts will expect you to obey certain formalities in pleadings. Otherwise, the court may rule against you on some or all the issues.

Discovery.
The Court have specific rules for what information you can seek from the other side (and what can be sought from you) relative to your appeal. An abuse of the discovery rules can expose you to an order forcing you to pay the other side's attorney fees.

Pre-Trial (Arbitation) Motions.
There could be a reason to file preliminary objections to the other side's pleadings, which may not have been an issue before a magistrate. You can, potentially, get some or all of the other side's case dismissed through motions practice, which is not allowed before the magistrate.

The other thing to keep in mind is this: when handling your own case, you cannot be objective because your money and pride are on the line. In law school, law professors have a saying: Any lawyer who represents him self has a fool for a client.

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