Rhetoric is ubiquitous in modern discourse: from arguments delivered in the High Court, to advertisements disseminated in the high street. For the legal and political advocate, persuasion is also a professional technique that must be perfected properly to practise each art.
In contrast with the classical era and the middle ages, in which grammar, rhetoric and dialectic were basic features of all education, modern curricula almost entirely neglect any theoretical study of the methods of rhetoric.
Rediscovering Rhetoric re-introduces to modern practitioners and students a grasp of the speeches, writings and methodologies of the great classical scholars of rhetoric.
Part 1 – Law and Language in the Greco-Roman Tradition provides a contextualised introduction to significant theorists of rhetoric in the classical period, and consists of four chapters written by practising barristers and a current Justice of the Federal Court of Australia.
Part 2 – The Practice of Persuasion comprises essays by practitioners distinguished in their pursuit of legal persuasion – one former and two current Justices of the High Court of Australia – illuminating their experiences of argument from the perspective of both bench and bar.
Part 3 – The Politics of Persuasion performs a similar function to Part 2, in the related domain of politics. It includes a chapter by Graham Freudenberg, former speechwriter for Gough Whitlam and others.
Together the three parts provide a unique inter-disciplinary perspective on the theory and practice of legal and political persuasion. Published in association with the NSW Bar Association.
Foreword by John O Ward The necessity of argument: Recovering a lost tradition
List of contributors
Justin T Gleeson and Ruth CA Higgins
Part 1 – Law and Language in the Greco-Roman Tradition
“The empty eloquence of fools”: Rhetoric in Classical Greece
Ruth C A Higgins
Cicero’s De Oratore, Pro Milone and the Philippics: Character, Argument and Emotion
Justin T Gleeson
Quintilian and the Public Attainment of Justice
Hermogenes of Tarsus: Rhetorical Bridge from the Ancient World to the Modern
The Honourable Justice Arthur R Emmett
Part 2 – The Practice of Persuasion
The Rise (and Fall?) of the Barrister Class
The Honourable Michael H McHugh AC, QC
Rhetoric in Law – A Case for Optimism
The Honourable Justice Michael D Kirby AC, CMG
Aspects of Rhetoric in Forensic Advocacy Over the Past 50 years
The Honourable Justice J D Heydon AC
Part 3 – The Politics of Persuasion
The Political Rhetoric of American Aspiration
20th-Century Political Rhetoric: Churchill, Menzies and Whitlam
Graham Freudenberg AM
Annotated Bibliography for Chapters in Part 1
Table of Cases
…Rhetoric is a much neglected topic in the study of law and this book is a very welcome addition to the few books published on the topic.
The Criminal Lawyer, 192 September/October 2009
This book provides a welcome reminder that the art of advocacy is a matter for self-analysis and cannot be left to academic reflection alone. The bar does not have a monopoly on forensic advocacy, but it does provide a community having a depth of experience and skill in that field which is unequalled elsewhere in our society. The efficient administration of justice, which is the ultimate public good service by a specialist bar, can only benefit from a serious focus on the skills required for expert advocacy. If this book stimulates such activity it will have served an important public purpose. It deserves to be widely read.
UNSW Law Journal, Volume 32(1)
One is left with a sense of deep admiration for the scholarship and enthusiasm which has produced this book. At the heart of it is the debate about the nature of the Bar, its past and its future, which emerges from the thoughtful papers of two very distinguished former judges and one sitting judge of Australia’s highest court. One feel that the Bar will survive as an institution serving a vital public need and offering a rewarding career for people of intelligence and character. But many things, including the style and techniques of advocacy, will probably change, just as they have in the past.
Hon Peter Heerey QC, (2009) 83 Australian Law Journal 486
The contributors to the excellent set of essays – renown justices, barristers, an ANU lecturer, etc – are all focused in one thing: rescuing the art of rhetoric in the practice of law, as it slides into oblivion in Australia.Part I deals with the origins of rhetoric in Greco-Roman times, which certainly deserves a look; Part II, with its practice in Court, and Part III, with the politics of persuasion, which includes an essay on Obama’s rhetoric. This allows easy access to the area that may interest you.
There is a wealth of information in these essays for those who practice law.
Ethos, ACT Law Society Journal, June 2009
It traces the birth of rhetoric in ancient Greece and Rome then moves on to the Middle Ages and The Renaissance. The rise of the barrister class in the late 19th century and the best speeches from the political arena are examined too.The most entertaining chapters are those that don’t get bogged down with the overly academic style and the constant qualifications that make the law such hard work for the layman.
There are many entertaining extracts from the likes of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and Hermogenes, however and Gleeson is most adept at observing one of the tips from the ancients: entertain as well as inform…
The modern part of the book features three High Court judges, Michael McHugh, Michael Kirby and John Dyson Heydon, university lecturer Thomas and former speechwriter to Gough Whitlam, Graham Freudenberg. It contains some entertaining accounts of great legal cases, most notably by McHugh. …the most useful offering for today’s lawyer comes from Heydon, who ditches his wooden style of judgment writing to offer an at-times cheeky appraisal of modern advocates.
Michael Pelly, The Weekend Australian, Review, January 24-25, 2009
Rediscovering Rhetoric is a book about advocacy, but not one in the ordinary mould. As befits a collection of essays, the topic is approached from several angles. The book moves from Greco-Roman tradition to modern politics via adversarial court proceedings in the modern era. It contains its fair share of “straight talk” – especially from the ranks of judges of the High Court of Australia, past and present – but an excessively linear path to learning is eschewed. …The scope and breadth of Rediscovering Rhetoric could have justified subtitles other than that selected. One might have been What We Say, We Are. The editors have assembled an insightful collection of essays which tells us much of the current state of the Australian legal profession as well as the art of advocacy. …
The breadth of Rediscovering Rhetoric’s range ensure that there is grist for every mill. The editors are to be commended, as is the New South Wales Bar Association for promoting the seminars which gave birth to the essays.
Australian Bar Review, Summer Edition, December 2008