Legal Argument in Advocacy: The Classics Revisited

Professional Skills

CPD Points 1


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 Updated: January 2022

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LawCPD Author: Chris Shanahan SC

Christopher Shanahan SC

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.

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What Lawyers Say

  1. 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.
    - Z. Jenkins, Solicitor
  2. 4.0/5
    Interesting subject matter.
    Interesting subject matter - the course identified different ways of approaching an argument that I had never really considered.