A Definition of Advocacy
Effective advocacy is an acquired skill. Advocacy occurs when a lawyer makes a specific argument in front of a court in order to persuade the court to rule in favour of their client.
However, advocacy can be both written and oral, and in real fact it involves a full range of abilities which are invaluable to lawyers.
A Quick Guide to the Essential Tasks of Advocacy
Case analysis, skeleton arguments, oral submissions, cross-examination of witnesses in criminal trials, and the ability to present a strong and persuasive case are all part of advocacy. You will need it whether you’re considering training as a solicitor or barrister.
Defending a client’s interests begins with the first meeting, and it continues throughout the investigation phase, trial preparation, and advocacy phase.
It is often argued that oral advocacy in particular is an art rather than a science. It is best done when the advocate keeps loyal to their personality while putting up a solid argument.
What Is Advocacy: Key Terms Used
Advocacy can seem rather scary, not least due to the formality of the courtroom.
For instance, senior judges should be addressed as ‘My Lord’ or ‘My Lady’, ‘Your Lordship’ or ‘Your Ladyship’. The opposing advocate is referred to as ‘my friend’ if they are a solicitor or ‘my learned friend’ if they are a barrister.
Finally, instead of expressing ‘I think’ or ‘I believe’, advocates employ terms such as ‘I submit’ or ‘It is submitted that’. Nevertheless, you should not allow the procedures scare you! With practise, these courtroom norms become second nature.
Solicitors and barristers both have the ability to argue their cases in front of a judge or jury.
Audience privileges are granted to qualified barristers in all UK courts (that is, they have the right to appear before any court on behalf of their client)
Qualified solicitors can only appear in the lower courts, unless they finish the Higher Powers of Audience qualification which will allow them rights equivalent to those of barristers
An individual can also advocate on their own behalf before the court, the individual is then referred to as a ‘litigant in person’ because they have no legal representative speaking on their behalf.
When Is Advocacy Used?
Advocacy is most visibly applicable in the context of court litigation which is usually the final alternative when it comes to resolving conflicts. The picture of a lawyer fighting in court is typically the first thing most think of when they hear the phrase ‘legal advocacy’.
Although advocacy abilities are often associated with the courtroom, they are rarely limited to that setting. They apply to various types of dispute resolution such as arbitration and mediation as well as to the job lawyers conduct with clients generally.
For instance abilities such as researching areas of the law and presenting your results are just as relevant when giving advise to a client as they are when you are representing a client in court.
Why it’s an Important Skill
Given that being a good advocate includes learning a whole range of qualities from public speaking to critical thinking, it is predictable that it is a highly sought after ability for lawyers.
Employers generally value advocacy experience since it not only enhances communication and research abilities, but it also builds self-confidence and serves as a good gauge of academic aptitude.
To be a successful barrister, a person must be proficient in advocacy, yet this advocacy can be applied in a variety of settings outside of the legal field. Presenting, performing under pressure, and analysing big amounts of data are tremendously transferable skills that are valuable in all fields of law.
How to Take Part in Advocacy Mooting
Any law student who has mooted at university will know that advocacy requires practise; this is partially because it includes such a broad variety of abilities. As a law student, the greatest approach to hone your advocacy skills is by mooting.
The term “moot” refers to a discussion of hypothetical legal concerns. As you participate in a moot, you’ll learn to think critically, as well as apply the law to real-world situations. Each mooter does extensive research on their moot issue and prepares a skeleton argument as well as a collection of cases and statutory authorities.
After then, the attorneys have a fixed amount of time in which to present their cases and answer to the moot judge’s observations. You want to be the finest speaker and most compelling advocate you can be.
There’s no reason not to give mooting a shot at least once if your school offers a legal degree. Mooting societies regularly offer ‘novice moots’ and introductory workshops to help first time advocates find their feet.
Observing a trial
If mooting seems like a great leap at the present, consider going to court to observe any trial. There you can witness real-life instances of good and bad advocacy. If you notice an advocate putting up great points, ask yourself why their case appears so compelling, make notes and enjoy the experience. One of the best ways to learn about advocacy is to sit in on a trial and watch how well it’s done.
Even if you’re a new lawyer, learning the basics of advocacy and putting that knowledge into advocacy will help you advance your career and enhance your legal resume.