Advanced Trial Advocacy

January 2017

  • Location:
  • Dates:
    23- 27 January 2017
Advanced Trial Advocacy

There are places available for only 42 barristers.  Seniority of at least three years at the private bar is a pre-requisite.

The underlying philosophy of the intensive is that the skills of a barrister are best learned in an environment that is as close to the real experience as possible.  This involves providing realistic briefs to counsel in sufficient time for counsel to properly prepare the matter for hearing and then giving them the opportunity to perform in real court settings.

The intensive involves discussion and comment on each aspect of trial performance.

The coaching faculty will comprise senior Australian judges, International and Australian senior practitioners and professional performance coaches accredited by the ABA.

There are very few opportunities for barristers to develop their advocacy skills by preparing a case and experimenting with a number of styles of performance to see which is the most effective for that advocate on that occasion.  Rarely do barristers have the opportunity of seeing their own performance played back so that it can be reviewed.  Never in professional practice is there an opportunity to have a number of senior practitioners analyse performances and provide intensive and supportive feedback about ways to refine and improve.

This intensive provides each of these elements and much more.  

Cost of intensive

The cost for the intensive is $3,800 (inc. GST) but for barristers practising in the criminal jurisdiction and undertaking the criminal stream, a special discount is being offered of $3,300 (inc. GST). This cost includes:

All materials and readings required for the intensive.
Intensive venue, equipment and stationery.
Five nights accommodation (Monday-Friday nights).
All breakfasts, lunches, pre-dinner drinks and dinners (excluding Wednesday dinner).
Final night off-site dinner including drinks.

Please note that there are no discounts being offered for barristers who wish to stay off-site. It is intended that this is a residential intensive and as such rooms have been booked for all barristers.  Exceptions will be made where barristers have care responsibilities that require their attendance at home.

Travel costs are additional for interstate barristers and are to be organised by the barristers individually. 


The coaching faculty will include Federal and Supreme Court Judges, Australian and International counsel from New Zealand, South Africa, England and Malaysia, as well as performance and voice coaches with expertise in voice, movement and impact.

For a full list of coaches click here



Federal Court of Australia, Law Courts Building, Queens Square, Sydney


Civil brief
Advocates will be briefed for either the Applicant or Respondent in a case involving alleged breaches of the Australian Consumer Law.

Criminal brief
Advocates will be appearing for either the Crown or Defence in a conspiracy to murder case.

In both briefs, barristers will give an opening address, examine in chief three witnesses, cross examine three witnesses and give a closing address. No extensive, specialised legal knowledge is required for either brief - the cases are suitable for practitioners from all areas of practice.

Pre Intensive Preparation
To replicate reality as far as possible, full preparation of the brief is required before the intensive commences.  Barristers are expected to be ready to deliver an opening address on the first full day of the intensive.  Past experience suggests that at least three full days may be required. 

Intensive Format
The general format of the intensive is to discuss the requirements of each performance and have demonstrations the day before the performances.  Barristers then reconsider and refine for their own performances.

Performances take place in court rooms in groups of six of similar experience.  At least three coaches are assigned to each group, on rotation.  Performances are discussed and recorded.  They are then reviewed individually with another coach, one on one, so that particular aspects of the performance, or suggestions for change, can be further discussed and developed.

Coaches are available during breaks as well as before and after sessions for consultation.



Some testimonial comments from previous courses


Apart from the high skills and abilities of the tutors, the course worked well because of the collegiate and supportive environment that was created; I felt that I could strive for improvement or change, and expose myself to critique, in a supportive environment and knowing that any criticism would be constructive.  It seems to me that such an environment is really important in allowing participants to try new methods of advocacy.




The contributions of the coaches were insightful, tailored and of lasting benefit. The coaches projected the intangible and invaluable attribute of being able to facilitate each person they coached.  They did not try (consciously or subconsciously) to impose their personal approach or style, but instead looked to engage with each person identify their strengths, and work with them to highlight and illuminate those strengths, whilst subtly overshadowing or eradicating their weaknesses.

Since finishing the Course, I have found the skills and coaching I received during the Course to have had tangible benefits in my practice and appearances in Court. My approach and way of thinking and presenting when in Court has been informed by the invaluable contributions made to my development as an advocate by the coaches during the Course.

The performance coaches also deserve special mention. The insights they bring to advocacy from a perspective unadulterated by the law or practice of the law and techniques they provide to enhance presence and presentation are profound.

I have already recommended the Course to many and I will be signing up to the Course again soon enough to continue the task of ironing out the creases and improving my advocacy (a pursuit which will continue until I cease advocating).




It was an outstanding course.  Whatever their level, every counsel would benefit from this course.  I was humbled by the time and energy given by the faculty.

I suspect that you will have next year many more kiwis applying.

ESJ, New Zealand



Your course is the best value CPD investment I have ever made in 40 years at the Bar.




An excellent course that was well worth doing.

I thought the course design (for the civil stream that I did) was excellent – a realistic case (obviously largely based on an actual case), simple enough to be manageable but meaty enough to get into, and the focus of the facilitators – technique and useful suggestions, rather than going through the motions of an entire mock trial – was the right way to approach it.  All facilitators were excellent.  I also particularly liked the input of the overseas facilitators which demonstrates that advocacy and persuasion are universal techniques, and they bring great insights and interest to the course; as well as the excellent voice and performance coaches, all of whom were fantastic and all on the ‘same page’ as the ‘legal’ facilitators.

It is demanding and intensive, but the social aspects (dinners etc) help to leaven that.

I have been a sceptic about teaching advocacy as a concept, but thought it would be worth taking the time to stop and ‘have another look’ 18 years after doing the Readers’ Course.  That turned out to be very much the case.  The most encouraging thing, which is worth stressing, was that it was made clear from the start on day one that we are not purporting to teach a ‘right way’ to do it, and that you need to be yourself and adopt suggestions that work for you.  There was then great encouragement through the week, and encouragement to try things in a ‘safe’ and supportive environment, while still pulling no punches!

I thank and congratulate all involved on this course.  Part of its benefit (and enjoyment) is observing peers and meeting peers from other states and New Zealand.  I know that all who I spoke with were similarly impressed with the week. 




The first-rate coaches were totally inspiring.  Not just their advocacy skills but their ability to relate to and connect with the advocates was what made the course so very special.  I have been sharing my experience with my fellow lawyers here and have encouraged everyone I speak with to take the course if possible. 

BH, Singapore



What a wonderful course.  I did not know it was possible to feel so challenged, tired and excited all at once and still speak.

Things that were great:

  • Having the same “den mother” and group for the entire 5 days.  It created a secure environment in which to step outside the comfort zone and try new things;
  • Being in a group of barristers that I did not previously know and whom I am unlikely to be opposed to any time soon;
  • The quality of the coaches – wow.
  • The social interaction with judges – they’re human – who knew?
  • Masterclasses and demonstrations.  Inspiring.
  • The performance coaches – such simple observations that made so much difference to my confidence and personal presentation.


Exceptional value too and met some great people. Everyone really!



I gained a wealth of experience from the course which I have been able to put into practice every day so thank you very much for the opportunity.



I don’t think I can suggest ways of improving the course.  I found it to be one of the best professional development experiences I’ve had.   First rate.  The quality of coaching was really the stand out feature.   In that regard, my group was fortunate to have had a coach who put a tremendous amount into making the week what it was for our group. 

If you devised a new fact scenario, I’d enjoy to come back in a few years and do the course again.



Excellent course! I have no hesitation in recommending the course. It is my belief Barristers should attend this course as often and as many times as possible. Regardless of where you are in your career you will refine your skill-set and learn something new.



The course was the best advocacy training I've ever had. And I have completed a great deal of advocacy training over 22 years. I believe that I am a much better lawyer all round for having completed the course. I'm also enjoying my work a great deal more because I have a good deal more to offer clients as a direct consequence of the things I learned, most for the first time, on the course.



Of all the continuing professional education opportunities available to barristers, as a skills-based course I consider this stands head and shoulders above others.



The best thing I have ever done for myself.



The course is well run and the method suits the standard for an advanced course.
The performance coaches are great as it helps experienced advocates to pay more attention to the style and performance aspects of their advocacy.

KC, Hong Kong


Overall I found the course very beneficial. Positives for me were the opportunities to try different methods of advocacy, the high calibre of the coaches and the real time feedback for the performances. The real benefit of each exercise for me was thinking about the advocacy performance, the actual performance in Court and receiving the feedback from the coaches...
I greatly appreciated the brief analysis sessions with the silks. It was an education to see the depth of their thinking about the matter and it is one of the real benefits I have taken from the course...
I also note the general positive approach of the coaches which over the course of the week starts to boost one's self confidence and enthusiasm for work and this became a real benefit to me.
The accommodation, meals and venue were all particularly high standard.



I have to say that the course exceeded my expectations. The course was thorough, intensive and comprehensive so that all aspects of working up a case for trial and its presentation were covered. The involvement of the performance coaches added an essential feature often missing from many advocacy courses and materials...
The direction given by the legal coaches was faithful, constructive and always helpful.
What else could be added to the course? Very little I suspect. When you are on a good thing stick to it.



I have only positive comments to make about the course.
The right people were selected to act as coaches. There was a good balance between positive and negative comments. It was invaluable to have senior counsel and judges involved. The [course] materials were very good and believeable. The way the course was presented worked very well.



The retreat was fantastic. The secret to it, from what I saw, was the excellent brief and the wonderful “we are all learning from this” approach of all of the coaches.
Don’t lose that culture- it was an excellent course that I benefitted enormously from.
Thank you for all of your efforts.



I found the course very helpful. It is beneficial to barristers of all levels of experience, and the quality of coaches is very high. The performance coaches are very good.



I thought it was a truly excellent course. I’m sure it will be of great assistance to me in the future (it already has!)

I don’t really have any other comments or suggestions on improvements. The devotion and skill of the coaches is what sets this course apart, as well as the level at which it is set.



The course was outstanding - principally due to the level of commitment from all of the coaches which set the scene for all.  It was a highlight to be a participant and extremely rewarding.  The Melbourne Bar was also particularly welcoming.



Not too outrageously complex for those that have absolutely no idea about a particular area of law we need to still be able to get our head around it in terms of themes concepts and case strategy without getting too bogged down.

I liked the groups that we went into with our “house mother hen” so to speak that was there as a constant throughout the week, I felt I really needed that from a consistency point of view if I wanted to go to someone to share something. The floating coaches also a very good idea and I really enjoyed that and loved the concept. For example, you could do a less than perfect performance and know your having someone new to come in and look at you have another go at it and do a better job the person not privy to the previous one.

I like the feedback system and video recording system, no one wants to feel like a fool in front of their colleagues… a safe non threatening environment to allow me to explore my learning and take a few chances here and there without devastation.

Overall my experience was enormously positive.



The program was excellent.
It helped me move to the next level of performance in the following ways.
Better preparation (using the brief as a starting point and not as a security blanket).
Starting strong using language as a weapon in both cross examination and evidence in chief.
Use of more appropriate language and removing surplus phrases.
Overall having experienced coaches, reviewing my performance has given me greater confidence.
Many thanks for the course, I have already recommended it to my colleagues.



Faculty – excellent, insightful and always helpful

Organisation – first class

Fellow travellers – great bunch; all committed to improving.

Amount learnt – a lot and all basic things to keep improving.



Overall I was delighted with the course and think it fully justified the large amount of time and money dedicated to its proper undertaking.

Some strengths of particular note:

First, I was impressed by manner in which the coaches provided frank and clear comments in a way which was respectful of the participants.  I know such things do not happen by chance, but by careful vetting of the coaches and careful instruction as to the nature of the role.

Second, the structure adopted for practical participation was excellent. In my view, leading evidence and cross examining repeatedly over a day or day and a half was vital to allow participants to work on, and improve, particular areas of their performance and approach.  I particularly benefitted from repeating XXN and the 4th opportunity gave me the chance to put some new ideas into practice in a way I would never have tried for the first time in a real trial.  If anything, I would urge more opportunities for Ev in Chief and XXN if possible.

Third, the small group arrangement for days 3 to 5 is an excellent idea.  It allows one to observe how one’s colleagues deal with things and to try out some of the  techniqueswhich they exhibit in their work.  It also allows members of the group to become defacto coaches and commentators for each other, especially as good will within the group develops.  This might not happen in every group, but it certainly did in mine.

Fourth, the live in arrangement and the frequent opportunities for interaction added a great deal of personal and professional pleasure to the week.