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Lawyers need to persuade many different audiences, including their clients, their opponents, their employers and employees, juries, the courts and others. This subject will help lawyers to persuade more effectively, through a mixture of theoretical and practical approaches. Students will read widely about advocacy, persuasion and influence, including from empirical studies and research from disciplines other than law (such as psychology). Students will also develop their practical skills in both written and oral persuasion, led by a very experienced teaching team: Noah Messing from the Yale Law School (and author of The Art of Advocacy), Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth from the Supreme Court of Victoria and experienced commercial barrister and teacher David O’Callaghan QC.
Principal topics include:
- Leading theories of persuasion, in the law and generally
- Empirical research into the persuasion of judges, other lawyers and lay people in a legal context (including juries and clients)
- Empirical research into other instances of persuasion
- Cognitive biases and how the law does—and should—react to them
- The balance between ethics and persuasiveness
- Developing a generalised theory of persuasiveness and how various actors reach various decisions
- Different ways to practically apply those theoretical approaches.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Develop an advanced and integrated understanding of the theories of persuasion
- Be able to critically identify and assess the effectiveness of different techniques of persuasion on different audiences
- Have developed at an advanced level their oral and written advocacy skills
- Become more adept at weaving together ethos, pathos, and logos in their oral and written work
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging issues in this area
- Have acquired skills to be able to build and counter arguments even more quickly by practicing persuasion in mock-crisis situations
- Gather feedback from the instructors and from peers about what arguments and approaches are effective or ineffective
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences.
Last updated: 11 February 2021