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Book Review: Advocacy by Anthony Willy and James Rapley

Advocacy by Anthony Willy and James Rapley

Reviewed by Jonathan Temm*

This well organised and easily read book on advocacy is a welcome addition to the New Zealand focused law library on litigation skills. There are several books on advocacy for overseas jurisdictions. The most notable in the New Zealand context were the New Zealand edition of Mauet’s Fundamentals of Trial Techniques and Introduction to Advocacy of which Sir Bruce Robertson was editor-in-chief. This new book complements them and brings the New Zealand position for advocates up to date. The authors achieve their stated purpose with a work which is relevant to all experience levels of advocates in the 21st century. This is managed in a very accessible writing style, but with detailed and flowing analysis of the issues under discussion.

The first part of the book is a reminder of the philosophical and jurisprudential foundations on which advocacy (and advocates) proceed. This is not delivered in a heavy or tiresome style but rather with a clear and logical structure that distils the essential principles for easy consumption. The opening chapter on “The Essential Qualities of the Successful Advocate” should be compulsory reading for every law student and practising litigation lawyer. And, like other chapters, this one bears re-reading at the start of every calendar year.

This is followed by a section on ethics in general and then particularly in relation to litigators. The first part ends with a useful discussion about dealing with the Bench and colleagues at the Bar. Just this first part alone would be a very useful resource for new and even moderately experienced advocates. But more than that, there are some good reminders of the core principles of advocacy to even the most experienced practitioner. This book can be referred to over and over again as these core principles remain constant.

Part of this early section also deals with the obligations for legal aid practitioners in all divisions of practice and the guideline obligations for prosecutors and Public Defence Service employees of the Ministry of Justice. All of this is assisted by an index that allows practitioners to go immediately to the section of interest and be reminded of the essential advocacy principles.

The bulk of the book in the second part is a user’s guide to successful litigation. It covers extensively the skills one needs to develop and refine in order to achieve successful outcomes on behalf of clients and causes. The book deals in a logical and progressive way with all aspects of litigation and details the core fundamentals the successful advocate needs to succeed. There are sections on preparation, theory of the case, openings and closings, cross examination and exhibits and objections. The “Theory of the Case” chapter also insightfully describes how one needs to deal with some of those clients that advocates face in the criminal division. All advocates will benefit from the comments on how to deal with such clients. It is all relevant to the New Zealand circumstances and topically current. For completeness, there is also a section on appellate advocacy and how that differs from work at first instance and a thoughtful discussion on advocacy in the technical age. The book concludes with some useful appendices that are helpful to practitioners in everyday practice.

With an easy to use index, clear and concise examples, this book is a very useful addition to the New Zealand discussion on advocacy and will be a great resource book for all practitioners. I should not be surprised to see it in the library of very experienced practitioners because the core fundamentals set out are always worth being reminded of. I commend the authors, who bring a good deal of experience to the topic and recommend this book to the profession’s library.

Advocacy by Anthony Willy and James Rapley. Brookers Ltd, March 2013, 978-0-864727-77-8, 286 pages, $88.00 (GST and p&h excl).

*Jonathan Temm is a Rotorua barrister specialising in civil litigation, arbitration and mediation, serious crime and appellate work. He is the immediate Past President of the New Zealand Law Society and has been closely involved with the NZLS CLE Ltd Litigation Skills programme since 2003 as a faculty member and was Director in 2010.

This review was first published in LawTalk 823, 19 July 2013, page 27. 

Last updated on the 18th September 2013