The Hon. Chief Justice comments on Advocacy
“Martin Daubney has told me of a recent change to the continuing professional development rules, rendering compulsory, attention to at least two of the three subjects, advocacy, ethics and practice management. I respectfully commend the Bar Council on that reorientation.
It would be somewhat odd were attention not directed to the essential objective of the barrister’s role, advocacy. And the decline in the extent of oral advocacy in the civil arena does not mean a diminution in counsel’s role as advocate. That is because of the marked shift to written presentation, which demands advocacy skills of a different character. Advocacy is all about persuasion, and I can assure you, as an illustration, that a well- prepared outline of argument, in what has become the current comprehensive format, can be powerfully persuasive in the formation, out of court, of an at least preliminary view as to he likely disposition of the case.
Then in the courtroom more often than not these days Socratic dialogue replaces counsel’s informing approach of two or three decades ago, for now the court is substantially informed, in advance. In the applications jurisdiction also, Judges are these days much more inclined to cut quickly to the central issue, which one hopes then becomes a matter for incisive debate with counsel. The atmosphere of the contemporary civil courtroom is therefore much more lively, inquisitive and challenging than certainly was the case two or three decades ago. And the demands upon the advocate are correspondingly much greater.
Advocacy: these I suggest are the keys Â – mastery of the facts and the law, efficiency before the court, and elegance in presentation. While truly outstanding advocacy may be rare, impressive and persuasive advocacy can be cultivated, and we not infrequently experience it in this State. May I assure you: it is never lost on grateful Judges. As to the other central subjects, ethics and practice management, I am pleased to acknowledge my view that high ethical standards distinctly characterize the Queensland Bar. We are not here plagued by taxation dereliction, in particular, which undoubtedly led to erosion of public confidence in the practising Bars in the south. As to practice management, the issue is simply one of practical efficiency, while I acknowledge that individual capacities to order our affairs obviously vary. But efficient management of the practice is critical, if the barrister is to be left to discharge his or her obligation to the client without unnecessary distraction.
At admission ceremonies, I often inform newly-admitted practitioners of the substantial proportion of our Queensland profession, with more than 900 barristers holding practicing certificates and more than 7,000 solicitors with practising certificates. My point is to emphasize the competitive nature of current practice, and to invite a mindset directed to the continual honing of professional skills.
Your presence here demonstrates your acknowledgement of that position, I am confident, quite apart from the compulsory demands of the CPD scheme.”
The Hon Paul de Jersey AC
Chief Justice of Queensland