Develop Your Intensive Trial Advocacy Skills

May 27, 2015

This year’s 33rd Annual Intensive Advocacy course is coming up soon: June 8–13. If you’re attending, we bet you you’d like to learn more about what to expect from the program. And if you’re not signed up for this year’s course, you may want to take Intensive Advocacy in 2016 after hearing all about it.


LESA and the Faculty of Law, University of Calgary work together to offer Intensive Advocacy: the most intensive trial advocacy skills course available to litigators in Western Canada.


In this immersive, hands-on, week-long program, you have many opportunities to hone your skills in every aspect of trial and hearing work:

  • Examining a witness in chief and in cross,
  • Objecting to improper questions,
  • Entering exhibits,
  • Qualifying and examining experts,
  • Impeaching a witness, and
  • Developing techniques for effectively opening and persuasively closing your argument.


To top things off, the course’s final assignment is a trial staged at the Calgary Courts Centre, before Queen’s Bench and Alberta Court of Justice judges.


We recently interviewed 2 Intensive Advocacy instructors, who shared their thoughts about the program. Here’s what they had to say about the content and experience of the course.


It is a practice-based course … about observing demonstrations of the skills from the faculty, and then breaking into small groups … [of] participants practicing those skills. … After that, participants immediately receive some feedback from the instructors. A lot of the practice skills … are recorded, and participants … sit one-on-one in video review. … It’s an opportunity for the participant to observe themselves but also then to receive additional feedback from yet another instructor. … Participants stay in the same groups [all week], but each day they get a different set of instructors, so they’re able to get feedback from different practitioners throughout the week. … The huge value of the small group situation is that you not only learn from what you’re doing but you also learn from observing the other participants. The participants themselves offer so much as a learning tool. … Everyone has their own style, and technique, and issues that they want to improve upon, so it’s a very rich environment to [discover] … different techniques and different strategies and the like.”

Jennifer Ruttan, Ruttan Bates


A common theme emerged out of our interviews about the benefit of the Intensive Advocacy program – confidence. Participants walk away from this course with much more confidence in their skill and ability to run a trial.

Walking into a courtroom for the first time, and trying to run your own case for the first time is a pretty scary proposition. … This course, because of how it is set up, gives each individual a chance to stand up in front of his or her peers and actually do a cross-examination, for example. Whether it’s good, bad, or ugly, you do the cross examination. From my perspective, having taught Intensive Advocacy for a number of years, the neatest thing is to see [the participants] on day 1 and then see them on day 7. They’re just not the same people … in terms of ability, and demeanor, and self-confidence. … It’s really an amazing transition.”

John Hope QC, Duncan Craig LLP


We really can’t emphasize enough the benefits of this unique interactive program. If you’re joining us this June, we can’t wait to share this experience with you!


This program sells out each year, so, if you’re interested in attending next year, you should register early. You can even head to our website now to register for Intensive Advocacy in 2016.

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