The Ancient Art of Advocacy Logo

Linking the concept of ethos with the BPTC

The idea that advocates have to be personally and professionally credible in order to be persuasive is a fundamental principle of advocacy that goes back 2500 years, and advocacy training has commonly placed considerable emphasis on the importance of advocates being trustworthy, and having honesty and integrity.

By way of example, in 1852 Edward Cox, Barrister at law at 3 Crown Office Row, Temple was tasked with creating the training programme for students wishing to become barristers, and the Bar Manual, called The Advocate - his training, practice, rights and duties was the result. In it, he said:

 “In the performance of this task I have sought to set up the high standard of acquirement and of conduct that has made the Bar of England, for so many centuries, the nursery of its noblest and truest gentlemen-the school of its statesmen-and the profession of those patriots to whose courage, independence and honesty the liberties of the land have been more than once indebted for their salvation.”

Unsurprisingly, he considered moral training to be crucially important in the training of advocates, saying:

MORAL TRAINING. - Foremost we place the MORAL TRAINING of the Advocate, because foremost in importance to the successful discharge of an advocates duties is the development of a mind conscious of integrity; and, next to that, Reputation. Wanting either, the Advocates intellect will be shorn of half its influence.

Let the aspirant set up in their own mind the ideal of a good person, to which they should ever strive to approach nearer and nearer, remembering always that the loftiest courage and the grandest eloquence proceed from a profound consciousness of rectitude of purpose, and that the confidence of others can only be secured, and their emotions awakened, by the reality of sincerity and feeling in the advocate.

 Within the context of the BPTC, the Devil’s Advocate1 is probably the book that states this most explicitly. The author, Iain Morley QC, places substantial emphasis on the importance of honour and integrity in making an advocate irresistibly persuasive and makes clear that “without trust, you won’t be persuasive.2 Keith Evans3 takes the same view ”The prosecutor who is unquestionably nice and scrupulously fair is, far more often than not, lethally effective.”4 As Steven Lubet5 succinctly says “Integrity inspires trust, and in trial work, trust leads to success”6.

The advocacy books on the BPTC make these points again and again:

Make sure you come across as absolutely fair (rule 48) and “Demonstrate your competence to your judge as early as possible. (rule 51)”7 (Common sense rules of advocacy) 

Opening statements can be significant because of the other goals you can achieve, for example, an opening statement is your chance to incline a judge or juror to an attitude that justice is on your client’s side, to provide a framework that meaning to your story and legal arguments, and to establish trust and rapport.” 8 (Trial advocacy in a nutshell)

 “The beginning of your opening statement is your first opportunity to speak directly with the jury. It is your first chance to impress them with the merits of your case and your abilities as an advocate. First impressions are usually lasting impressions. In a short period of time you should be able to achieve several purposes:

 a) Present a one sentence capsule of the case.

b) Explain the purpose of the opening statement (to identify the issues for the court)

c) Explain how a trial is conducted, if the judge hasn’t already done so.

d) Demonstrate your abilities, confidence and integrity through your delivery and demeanour.”9

(Fundamentals of trial techniques)

1Iain Morley QC, The Devils Advocate (4th edn (kindle), Sweet and Maxwell, 2014)

2Iain Morley QC, The Devils Advocate (4th edn (kindle), Sweet and Maxwell, 2014) location 692

3Keith Evans, Advocacy in Court – a beginners guide (OUP, 2010)

4Keith Evans, Advocacy in Court – a beginners guide (OUP, 2010) p67

5Steven Lubet and JC Lore, Modern Trial Advocacy Analysis and Practice (4th edn, National Institute for Trial Advocacy, 2016)

6Steven Lubet and JC Lore, Modern Trial Advocacy Analysis and Practice (4th edn, National Institute for Trial Advocacy, 2016) p6

7Keith Evans, Common sense rules of advocacy for lawyers (The, 2004)

8Paul Bergman, Trial Advocacy in a nutshell (4th edn, Thomson West Publishing, 1997) p107

9Thomas Mauet, Fundamentals of Trial Techniques (2nd edn, Little, Brown and Co, 1988) p54

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