1 Professional Skills

Legal Argument in Advocacy: The Classics Revisited

LawCPD Author: Chris Shanahan SC
Christopher Shanahan SC
Barrister Murray Chambers
1 CPD Point


Interactive Content
Self-Paced Completion
On-demand and on Any Device
Receive Certificate of Completion


This course provides practical techniques designed to assist lawyers develop their advocacy skills by examining the structure and core elements of legal argument.

From the beginning of human society, civic life has been defined by argument.  Argument seems intrinsic to the human condition and has dominated social and political life since classical antiquity.

There are a number of different forms of classical argument, including debate, rhetoric and dialectic.  Understanding the nature and structure of these classical forms of argument can greatly assist lawyers in enhancing their advocacy skills and developing an effective style of legal argument.

This course seeks to provide a new, practical approach to how advocates describe and engage in legal argument by utilising rhetoric and dialectic.  Having set out the framework for this new approach, the course discusses the ways in which advocates can employ these classical styles in different stages of proceedings, with a particular focus on opening addresses, closing addresses and appellate argument.


Last Reviewed: January 2024

Meet the expert

LawCPD Author: Chris Shanahan SC
Christopher Shanahan SC
Barrister Murray Chambers

Christopher Shanahan SC was admitted to the WA bar in 1984, NSW in 1989 and the High Court of Australia in 1990. He practices as a barrister at Murray Chambers.

Learn more


  1. 5.0/5
    Thought provoking.
    The course presented the origins of the legal orator in antiquity and used ancient concepts of discourse as a lesson for today's advocate. A great story in itself.
  2. 5.0/5
    Interesting overview of classical techniques in presenting an argument and their application to advocacy
    A good reminder of the importance ideas from the Classical world to the practice of law, and some handy techniques.
  3. 5.0/5
    Very worthwhile course
    This was an interesting course. It got me thinking about returning to basics when preparing a matter, and working through the steps so as to best present an argument.