The Readers' Course is an example of the excellent working relationship between Bench and Bar, showcasing the collegiality of our Bar and the enormous contribution that members of the judiciary make to the education of members of the Bar.
It is comprised of a mix of lectures, workshops, interactive sessions and exercises, led by judges, magistrates and experienced counsel who generously volunteer their time and expertise to provide the best possible introduction to life at the Bar.
During the Course, Readers are exposed to the anatomy of court and trial practice, including out-of-court preparation, interlocutory appearances, opening and closing addresses, the examination and cross-examination of witnesses, legal argument and submissions. Emphasis is placed upon the importance of forensic and strategic thinking, developing coherent case theories, anticipating and resolving evidentiary issues, and effective and persuasive communication both orally and in writing.
A major part of the Course comprises oral exercises, moots and mock hearings, giving participants the opportunity to develop, practise and hone oral advocacy skills, and observe different styles of advocacy.
Another significant component of the Course is dedicated to the development of written skills, including pleadings, affidavits and submissions. Participants are required to submit a number of written exercises.
Rules of ethics and principles of good conduct are central to the work of barristers. The importance of adherence to those rules and principles in practice, and learning how to deal with ethical issues when they arise, are recurrent themes in the Course.
Barristers are sole practitioners, responsible for running their own businesses. The Course assists in preparing participants to manage their practice, from emphasising the importance of independence and excellence when providing legal services, to the nuts and bolts of building and maintaining relationships with clients, solicitors, clerks, colleagues, the Bar and the wider community.
The Readers’ Course provides a unique opportunity to develop the skills to come to the Bar, make mistakes in a supportive environment, receive constructive feedback, and make lifelong friendships.
Readers can expect intensive training in:
- Oral advocacy, including interactive workshops and mock trials held in real court rooms
- Written advocacy, including drafting exercises for pleadings, affidavits and outlines of submissions
- Effective communication, including workshops from trained specialists and sessions with some of the Bar’s most entertaining and engaging advocates
- Forensic decision making, including lectures and workshops on exercising good judgment, and reasoning to avoid bad judgment
- Ethics and conduct, including sessions from leaders of community organisations and senior barristers who approach topical issues such as direct briefs, risk management and dealing with difficult clients
- Practice building and development
- Understanding the culture of the Bar, the expectations of conduct and what to do when things go wrong, and
- Court and justice facilities, including visits to correction centres and the courts.
Assessment and Feedback
The Readers’ Course is assessed through several moots and written work which take place throughout the Course. Individual feedback from experienced judges and barristers is provided in the form of verbal and written advice for each assessment task and during practice exercises. Oral advocacy is assessed twice and six written tasks are to be submitted.
Participation is mandatory and all assessment is on a pass or fail basis. Successful completion of assessment is a precondition to signing the Roll of Counsel.