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The enforcement and protection of legal rights and interests ultimately depends on legal proceedings in courts and tribunals. Many if not most legal proceedings revolve around issues of fact, and in an adversarial context this means the presentation of competing versions of contentious events and the attempt by each of the parties to persuade the tribunal of fact to accept a version of events which would entitle them to the remedy or outcome sought by their client.
The focus of this subject is on the development of the specialised skills and expert judgment needed for this crucial aspect of legal practice, which can broadly be described as trial advocacy (as distinct from appellate advocacy). Effective trial advocacy requires a broad, complex and diverse set of skills, ranging from the ability to develop and present a persuasive narrative (both in an address and by examining a witness) to the ability to force an opposing witness to make concessions that will advance the party's case.
Advocacy enables students to develop this set of skills in a supportive workshop environment. Topics covered will include the adversary process; the role of the trial advocate; the development of case theories, themes and labels; opening and closing addresses; and witness examination including examination-in-chief and cross-examination. Students will be required to plan and conduct a variety of advocacy exercises.
Intended learning outcomes
A candidate who has successfully completed the subject will be able to:
- Identify aims and objectives for the conduct of a trial;
- Develop plans and strategies for the achievement of those aims and objectives;
- Implement those plans and strategies in the preparation of, and through the course of, a trial; and
- Critically reflect on all of the above at the conclusion of a trial.
Through the development of these cognitive and technical skills, students will develop the ability to:
- Independently analyse, reflect on and synthesise the complex masses of evidence and information that typically arise in litigation;
- Independently identify issues and problems arising or likely to arise in a particular trial;
- Independently develop solutions to those problems; and
- Communicate ideas, theories, information and arguments to a tribunal of fact or law.
Students who successfully complete this subject will be able to
- Prepare a case for trial including:
- Developing a case theory;
- Drafting an opening address;
- Drafting a closing address;
- Drafting examinations and cross-examinations of witnesses; and
- Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a case.
- Conduct a trial including:
- Delivering an opening address;
- Examining and cross-examining witnesses; and
- Delivering a closing address.
- Reflect critically and meaningfully on their performance at the above tasks.
Last updated: 2 December 2019