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Can You, Or Should You, Represent Yourself During Your Unemployment Appeal?

It's very possible to represent yourself during an unemployment appeal. Sometimes, the process is set up in such a way that a non-lawyer can navigate it. However, it's important to remember your appeal is still a legal process with everything that entails. So should you represent yourself? Here are a few things to consider.

Know the Stages of the Appeal Process

The appeal process varies from state to state. In general, you will have a small window of opportunity to start the appeal. Usually, the steps you need to take come with your formal denial paperwork. Otherwise, you can look on your stat's DOL website.

Once you formally submit your appeal, you will receive a hearing date. It's the hearing where you have to make the decision on whether you need a lawyer or not.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

Technically, no, you don't need a lawyer for your hearing. But before going into the hearing, you must ask yourself these things:

Do you know how to prepare for your case? You must know how to locate and obtain a copy of your case file for review. You must gather evidence that goes against your former employer's claim. This evidence can come in the form of pay stubs, performance evaluations, employee handbooks, and even recordings.

You must also find witnesses and convince them to speak on your behalf. Keep extensive documentation and make sure you write down all the points you would like to make at the hearing.

Do you know unemployment law in your state? Unemployment law can vary, and it's possible you have some preconceived notions on how things work. Make sure you study up on the local laws regarding unemployment. Pore over your state's website thoroughly, and search for more information on anything you don't understand.

Do you know how the hearing will work? This is important because there are things you can do during your hearing that can benefit you greatly if you know how to go about it. For example,

  • You will have to present your evidence
  • You will have to say the right things
  • You will have to cross-examine witnesses or the employer
  • You will even have to give a closing argument

Are you up to such tasks? It's very easy to mess these things up if you're not absolutely confident in your demeanor and in your case. If you can't answer these questions in the affirmative before your hearing date, you should seek legal representation.

At Least Speak to a Lawyer

Even if you're set on maneuvering through this process alone, you should at least seek some legal advice. A lawyer can clarify points for you, give you some coaching, and let you know how best to go about your appeal. Consult with a lawyer like Law Office of Matthew J Brier that has a background in unemployment benefits and claims.