The Advocacy Project is an initiative focused on increasing standards of courtroom advocacy within the legal profession.

Our experienced team and presenters provide high quality continuing legal education (MCLE) in the form of interactive, practical workshops designed for practitioners wishing to improve their key advocacy skills and knowledge.

Participants attending an Advocacy Project workshop are given an individual piece of advocacy to complete in both a local court and district court setting. The settings are as realistic as possible and utilise actual courthouses. Presiding judicial members are either sitting or retired members of the NSW judiciary/magistracy or senior members of the bar.

Experience has shown us that the criminal jurisdiction provides the clearest framework within which to develop participant’s inherent advocacy skills. Each participant is given a particular scenario which is finalised at sentence in the summary jurisdiction. Unfortunately the finalisation of the matter is delayed by appeal to the district court. This provides participants with an introduction to appellate advocacy.

Participants are provided with all necessary factual and background scenario material and although not mandatory participants are encouraged to film their advocacy for review.

Workshops presented by the project are unashamedly practical in their focus and interactive in their delivery. It is intended that while presenters are responsible for the broad structure of workshops, there should be enough flexibility for a significant proportion of content to be determined by participants. However, it is a point of difference between our project and other advocacy courses that the availability of presenters, including presiding judicial members, does not cease at the conclusion of the formal course. Our experience has been that much can be gained by the exchange of ideas and information in a relaxed setting, and to this end all workshops include drinks at the conclusion of the formal coursework.

All Advocacy Project workshops are held on weekends over two days. The practical advocacy component of each workshop takes place all day Saturday. Sunday half day comprises a relaxed round table dealing with courtroom etiquette, ethics and practical tactics.

There are no “stupid questions” at an Advocacy Project workshop.

About the facilitators

The Advocacy Project is coordinated by Tim Sharman, Michael Lalor and Michaela Turner.

Tim brings over 20 years’ experience as a legal practitioner. For most of that time he has taught within practical legal training courses at the Australian National University, and is recognised as one of the leaders of the profession in the ACT and surrounding regions of NSW. Tim has appeared in all major courts in the ACT and NSW.

Michael is the Managing Lawyer (ACT) with the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT). Over the course of 15 years practice he has been engaged in both private legal practice and also as a managing lawyer in a number of public law entities. He has also lectured within the practical legal training program administered by the ANU.

Both Tim and Michael have a particular interest in, and empathy with, practitioners in their early years of practice.

Michaela has 15 years’ experience in coordinating and administering private and public forums and training conferences.

Industry experts

Joining the instructor team for each workshop are members of the judiciary and bar both current and retired. These leaders of the profession share our goal that by aiding the junior members of the profession we are strengthening the profession as a whole by working with the leaders of tomorrow.

All instructors recognise that informal “debriefing sessions” following course work can be a powerful source of knowledge sharing and consolidation. To that end participants and instructors are able to mingle during breaks and in a more relaxed setting following the conclusion of the course proper. A strong element of collegiality is encouraged on the part of all.

Our goal

At the conclusion of an Advocacy Project workshop participants will:

  • Understand how to analyse factual scenarios and develop submissions in a common sense fashion
  • Understand how to frame submissions within a legal context using clear, concise and everyday language
  • Understand how to present submissions in a practical, engaging manner
  • Have established valuable and enjoyable networks with colleagues within the profession