About the AAI

The Philosophy of the AAI

The AAI Teaching Method

The AAI Board of Directors

The Australian Advocacy Institute (AAI) was launched on 11 September 1991 during the 27th Australian Legal Convention as an initiative of the Law Council of Australia.


The Institute is an independent, not-for-profit body governed by a Board of Directors under the Chairmanship of The Hon. Ann Ainslie-Wallace. The Founding Chairman was Professor The Hon. George Hampel AM QC.

Since 1995 the Institute has been financially independent. Its birth was in response to the ever growing demand by the Australian profession for advocacy training which could no longer be fulfilled by a handful of enthusiastic, committed individuals. It marked the acceptance by the profession of the need to improve advocacy standards and that advocacy skills can be taught at all levels.


Aims of the AAI

Good advocacy is important to the litigant and to the integrity of our adversary system.

The primary role of the advocate in the adversary system is to persuade the tribunal of the merits of the client’s case. Advocates must be up to that task, so that client interests are properly represented, and courts are assisted. Representation is now a requirement in serious criminal cases in which its absence may result in an injustice.

The Institute is committed to the principle that a client’s right to representation is a right to professionally competent representation.


The aims of the Australian Advocacy Institute are to:

  • Improve the standards of advocacy skills throughout Australia
  • Provide an Australia-wide forum in which ideas and experience in advocacy and advocacy training can be shared and developed
  • Design and develop methods and materials for training lawyers in advocacy
  • Train lawyers to teach advocacy skills.

Litigation today demands increased efficiency and economy for the private client and the State. At the same time it is essential that the interests of the parties are effectively represented and that just results are not sacrificed for the sake of efficiency. The achievement of this balance requires preparation, discipline, skill, and a professional approach by advocates capable of analysing the issues and succinctly presenting cases for their clients.

The Institute is dedicated to the pursuit of professional excellence.

The Institute’s patrons have been the Hon. Sir Anthony Mason AC KBE, the Hon. Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE, the Hon. A M Gleeson AC, the Hon. Robert French and currently the Hon. Justice Susan Kiefel AC, Chief Justice of Australia.


The Philosophy of the AAI

Advocacy is the art of persuasion in court. To be persuasive an advocate must be prepared, disciplined, skilled and able to communicate effectively with the tribunal.


Until the 1970’s there was a common belief that advocacy could not be taught. It was thought that good advocates were born not made.


Reading about advocacy and exposure to senior advocates were thought sufficient for new advocates to learn their skills by observation and osmosis and to develop them by experience. Many did learn, and some who had talent became excellent advocates. However, it often came at a cost to clients. Some did not learn from experience but simply perpetuated bad advocacy practices. Experience does not necessarily equate with competence, far less excellence.


The 1980’s saw the demise of the attitude that advocacy could not be taught.


The breakthrough came with the realisation that advocacy involves skills and talent. Skills are best taught by the workshop method of performance and instruction in a manner akin to coaching rather than by observing and acquiring information and experience.


This process enables advocates to see and analyse their performance, to improve it and to continue learning more effectively from experience in practice.


There is no one correct style of advocacy. Individual styles and abilities must be developed. However, an analysis of the work of good advocates shows that there are fundamental common features although the expression of them differs with individual style and ability.


The Institute’s teaching methods enable individuals to develop their own styles within these touchstones of good advocacy. Once these fundamentals are established, the advocacy skills based upon them can be applied in all jurisdictions and before all tribunals despite different practices and procedures. Experience has shown that advocacy skills at all levels can be developed and individual talents enhanced by the workshop method used by the Institute. Participants at workshops have the benefit of demonstrations by the teaching faculty who are practising advocates and trained teachers. The teaching methods and materials are under review by Management. Members of management, the Board and the Senior Faculty keep in touch with developments in advocacy training throughout Australia and overseas.

The AAI Teaching Philosophy:

Competent advocacy in the adversary system is essential to serve the best interests of clients, the interests of the community, and the interest of justice.

Advocacy is characterised as the art of persuasion. A person who holds him or herself out as a specialist advocate must have the basic understanding of the concepts of good advocacy and the ability to perform the essential skills of an advocate.

The practice must be in accordance with professional ethics and etiquette.

Advocacy consists of developed disciplines, skills and techniques applied with such talent as each advocate has.

Effective court room communication skills are essential to advocacy as the art of persuasion.

Advocacy skills, techniques and disciplines can be taught, learned and developed at basic and advanced levels.


Advocacy skills are best taught and learned by the workshop method of:

• instruction

• demonstration

• performance

• review.


The focus of teaching is on methods of:

• preparation

• analysis

• performance.


Enabling advocates to develop individual style and approach free of fundamental error. The aim is to help pupils to improve, rather than find faults in their performance. The disciplines, skills and techniques taught are generic and cross jurisdictional.


Experience as an advocate alone is usually not sufficient to ensure competence. The approach we teach to preparation, analysis and performance helps advocates to learn from their experience and develop their skills.


The emphasis in teaching is on:

• complete familiarity with factual and legal materials

• a method of analysis of those materials to produce a consistent case theory

• a method of preparation for the performance of specific advocacy tasks.


Development of skills in:

• legal argument

• opening and closing addresses

• evidence in chief and re-examination

• cross-examination

• written advocacy

• communication skills.


The instructors are:

• experienced and competent advocates

• trained in the skills method of teaching by the AAI in accordance with its philosophy

• able to explain and demonstrate advocacy skills to the pupils.


The AAI is committed to the pursuit of excellence in advocacy by:

• encouraging advocates at all levels to continue learning and developing their skills

• equipping advocates with the ability to analyse their work and critically assess their performance

• identifying and training members of the profession as potential instructors

• continuing to develop the instructors’ skills in order to maintain quality and consistency in advocacy training.

1. Advocacy Workshops


A typical workshop commences with an introductory session on an evening in the week before the workshop. The purpose is to introduce the Institute’s philosophy of advocacy and its teaching method. This session is conducted by the workshop Moderator.


It is followed on the Saturday by analysis sessions and short individual performances of advocacy tasks. The performances are conducted in groups of 6 to 8 participants. Each performance is analysed and reviewed by the instructor within the group. Positive, constructive instruction is provided and a demonstration given to assist participants with ways they can improve. Each participant will perform at least three advocacy tasks in a workshop.


The analysis sessions are interactive and concentrate on preparation for performance, communication skills and advocacy techniques.


Thorough familiarity with case files and preparation in advance of the workshop are essential in order to benefit from this intensive teaching method.


The workshops enable participants to improve their skills at their individual level and to gain the ability to self-assess and continue development in practice.


In 2020 the AAI began providing on-line workshops.


2. Materials


Much time and effort is devoted by experienced advocacy teachers to the preparation of suitable teaching materials. Materials are designed to achieve specific teaching objectives at various levels. The workshops materials are sent to the participants in advance with a guide for preparation.


3. Instructors


Instructors qualified to teach with the Institute must be good, experienced advocates who have undergone a teacher training course provided by the Institute, which qualifies them to use the Institute’s teaching methods and materials.


While the Institute achieves a degree of uniformity in its teaching approach, there is strong emphasis on individual contributions by instructors. The development of individual style is thus emphasised.


Judges, Senior Counsel and senior advocates from around Australia have attended teacher training workshops, which are by invitation only and are conducted by the Institute’s most experienced instructors.


Trained instructors give their time generously, without remuneration, because of their commitment to the improvement of the standards of advocacy.


The Institute is grateful for this strong support by the profession and the judiciary.


The AAI Board of Directors


The Hon. Ann Ainslie-Wallace

Chair, Australian Advocacy Institute


1978 Admitted to the Bar. Frederick Jordan Chambers, Practice - Family Law

Pioneered the role of counsel for separate representatives in family law cases representing children

Family law and related jurisdictions and extensive appearances for the State Crown – counsel assisting inquiries,

inquests, appearances for government bodies in all courts and tribunals at all levels

1995-1997 Acting Judge of the District Court, NSW

1997-2010 Judge of the District Court of New South Wales

2010-2022  Appellate Division of the Family Court of Australia

2015 Appointed as Master Bencher, Inner Temple (UK)

2018 Awarded Honorary Doctor of Laws, UTS University, Sydney

2023 Appointed Acting Justice, Supreme Court of ACT

Visiting Faculty, National Institute for Trial Advocacy (USA)

Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law

Professor of Law (Advocacy), University of Technology, Sydney

As part of a Law Council/Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales initiative, founded the Separate Representative Training Course – a three day intensive, multi-disciplinary training course for children’s advocates

1997-1999 Former member of the District Court Policy and Planning Committee

Former member of the NSW Bar Council

Former member of the NSW Bar Association Professional Conduct Committee

Former member of the NSW Bar Association Family Law Committee

Former member of the Family Law Executive, Law Council of Australia

Chair, College of Law Master of Applied Law [Family Law] Advisory Committee

Council Member, National Judicial College of Australia

Former NSW Representative, Australian Association of Women Judges 2008-2010

Investigators, Expert Witness and Advocacy Skills Workshops: Securities and Futures Commission, Hong Kong Stock Exchange and Hong Kong Monetary Commission, Hong Kong: 2004 - 2018

Instructor, New Practitioners Advocacy Workshops, Inner Temple, London 2013 to 2023

Instructor, AAI Advanced Teacher Training Program, UK Advocacy Training Council, London 2013

Instructor, ICCA Advocacy Workshop, Keble College Oxford 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022, 2023

Instructor, AAI workshop on Advocacy for Victims of War Crime, International Criminal Court, The Hague 2013

Senior Moderator and Instructor with the Australian Advocacy Institute with teaching commitments throughout Australia and in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the UK, South Aftrica, The Hague and at Monash University, Prato, Italy

Member Australian Bar Association International Advocacy Team teaching advocacy in Bangladesh from 1996-2000.


Felicity Hampel AM SC

Deputy Chair



  • 1981 Barrister at Victorian Bar
  • 1996 Queen’s Counsel, now Senior Counsel
  • 2005-2023 Judge of the County Court of Victoria
  • 2020 Appointed as Master Bencher, Inner Temple (UK)
  • 2021 Awarded AM for services to women and the law

  • Extensive advocacy teaching experience as Senior Moderator and AAI Instructor in Australia, USA, England, Scotland, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, The Hague and at Monash University, Prato, Italy since 1984
  • Visiting faculty member National Institute for Trial Advocacy (USA)
  • Adj. Professor, Faculty of Law, Monash University
  • Instructor, New Practitioners Advocacy Workshops, Inner Temple, London 2013-2019
  • Former Member of the Victorian Bar Readers’ Course Committee
  • Former Convener, Women Barristers’ Association
  • Former Member of the Victorian Bar Equality before the Law Committee
  • Past President of the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties
  • Former Deputy Co-convener, Australian Republican Movement Victoria
  • Foundation Board Member, Australian Women Lawyers.



His Honour Grant Brady SC

Deputy Chair


Barrister since 2000

Appointed Senior Counsel 2015

Appointed to the Bench of the District Court of New South Wales 2024

Past Chair, ACT Law Society Criminal Law Committee

Past Member, National Criminal Law Liaison Committee

Instructor NSW Bar Association Readers Course

Accredited Teacher, Australian Bar Association

Member, Education Committee NSW Bar Association

Senior Instructor and Moderator, Australian Advocacy Institute at workshops across Australia and AAI workshops in Singapore, Hong Kong and at Monash University, Prato, Italy.







His Honour Judge Craig Smith SC


Barrister since 2001

Appointed Senior Counsel 2014

2006: Barrister, NSW Public Defender’s Office

2014: Appointed Deputy Public Defender, NSW

2018: Barrister, Forbes Chambers, Sydney

2021: Appointed to the Bench of the District Court of New South Wales

Instructor, ICCA Advocacy Workshop, Keble College Oxford 2017, 2023

Past Vice-President, Criminal Defence Lawyers Association

Senior Instructor and Moderator, Australian Advocacy Institute at workshops across Australia and AAI workshops in

Hong Kong, Singapore and at Monash University, Italy






Ian Robertson SC


Barrister since 1986

Appointed Senior Counsel 2008

Past Member, Law Council of Law Society of South Australia

Bar President, South Australian Bar Association

Past Chair, Australian Bar Advocacy Training Council

Extensive advocacy instructor experience with the AAI across Australia.








Saul Holt KC


Barrister since 1998

Appointed Queens Counsel 2012

Chief Counsel, Victoria Legal Aid 2012-2014

Practicing barrister at private bar in Queensland since 2014

Extensive advocacy instructor experience with the AAI across Australia.










His Hon. Judge Carl Heaton KC


Admitted to the Queensland Bar, 1990

Admitted as barrister to the High Court, 1999

Appointed Queen's Counsel, 2010


1989  Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, Queensland

1994 – 2007  Senior Crown Prosecutor, Office of Director of Prosecutions, Queensland

2005 – 2016  Deputy Public Defender, Legal Aid Queensland

2016  Appointed Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Queensland

2020  Appointed Director of Public Prosecutions, Queensland

2021  Appointed to the Bench of the District Court of Queensland

Extensive advocacy instructor experience with the AAI across Australia.




Sharyn Hall SC


1999 – 2007 Admitted to practice as solicitor, NSW

Solicitor, Western Aboriginal Legal Service

Solicitor, Legal Aid NSW

2007 – Admitted as barrister, NSW

2008 – Registered practitioner, High Court of Australia

2021 – Appointed Senior Counsel

Regularly appears in the Supreme Court to defend applications for continuing detention and extended supervision orders.

Appeared at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Appearances in ICAC

Senior Advocacy Instructor, AAI and NSW Bar Practice Course.


Jim Shaw


Jim Shaw was admitted to practice and signed the Bar Roll in 1996.

He has been a member of Crockett Chambers, Melbourne, since 2005


Jim has an extensive criminal law practice in which he appears as defence counsel, as well as prosecuting on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions and other authorities. He has appeared in a large number of criminal trials and pleas in the Victorian Supreme and County Courts.


In the civil jurisdiction, Jim practices primarily in the areas of construction law, property law, and commercial law, appearing in trials and applications in the Victorian Supreme Court, County Court, and VCAT.



Jim also appears at inquiries and coronial inquests, and in civil and criminal appeals in the Victorin Court of Appeal.


In 2021 he completed the Centre for Cultural Competence Australia's course in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Cultural Competence.


AAI Management


General Manager:              Scott Wallace

Phone: +61 [2]9427 1620   or   +61 [0]418 473 303

Email: aai@advocacy.com.au

Post: AAI, PO Box 446, Lane Cove, NSW 2066