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Preparation and Performance




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AUD $59.95 gst included

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Persuasive questioning and argument in our courts and tribunals need skills in case preparation and techniques of presentation. Those skills and techniques are gained by a combination of understanding and practice.

This book explains the ‘what’, the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ of basic skills and techniques. The reader is then ready to practice.

Knowing the needs and wants of the audience, identifying the links among legal concepts, facts and witnesses, are at the heart of case preparation. That knowledge guides the content and tone of both argument and opening address.

Of course the advocate must also be able to ask questions that both bring out the evidence in an acceptable manner and keep the right level of control over each witness.

Advocacy is a skill that can always be improved, whether the practitioner is renowned or a novice. This is a book for the new comer, an explanation and illustration of the essential first steps along the road to renown.

Knowing the Audience and Planning the Case

Just another shoplifting case
Knowing your audience
Developing your law and fact case ‘step by step’
Mastery of both sides of the case: good facts, bad facts, and priorities
Illustrative cases and a procedural template

What is your Game Plan?

Developing a plan
The tenant’s game plan
The renovation game plan
The shopper’s game plan

Mastering the Facts

The nature of the interview
The scene
A report from an expert
Do not ask ‘Did you do it?’, but…
Setting an agenda of topics for the interview
Types of questions
Asking open questions
Demonstrative aids


Interlocutory applications procedure
Argument for a plea-in-mitigation
Closing address

The Advocate as Conductor

Painting the picture
What is my position in court?
Where do I look?
Masking my anxiety?
What do I call people in court?
Opening statements
How to use the circles method for an agenda and questioning
Questioning my witnesses
Using a written statement
Establishing a base point
Explaining distances
Describing the lighting
Explaining time
Describing a person

The Performing Witness

Preparing the witness
Giving evidence

To Do or Not to Do

Should I cross-examine?
How do I cross-examine?
Exploit your nice side
The importance of gate-closing
Avoid being argumentative
Inquisitiveness invites disaster
Exploiting the failure to explain
The too-talkative witness
Leading questions
The rule of fairness
Making and responding to objections
Credibility matters
An Advocacy Dictionary

…Expect an insightful introduction to the practice and principles of good advocacy from a well-published academic. The beginner advocate (like me) will find some very useful ways of understanding some of the rules of evidence and a solid grounding in how to properly prepare a case for trial.
Selby provides tips about some of  nuances of advocacy, such as ways of effectively having a witness describe lighting and dealing with one’s own anxiety. He also offers the reader the use of mind-mapping (or circles method) and shows how this method can be applied through all stages of preparation for trial.
This fairly short book is littered with practical examples and is thus quite easy to digest. I can recommend it as a useful reference tool.

ACT Law Society Newsletter, Ethos, March 2010