Trial Counsel Development Program

Trial Counsel Development Program

The Trial Counsel Development Program is designed to deliver unique training opportunities to selected Junior Counsel by partnering them with senior trial advocates in criminal trials each year. The program commenced in July 2011.

The Trial Counsel Development Program aims to develop a steady pool of quality advocates at the Junior Bar. It aims to ensure that legally aided clients are able to access skilled and experienced trial counsel.

This program is part of a range of initiatives developed through our work with the Victorian Bar, the Office of Public Prosecutions, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, the Magistrates’, County and Supreme courts, the private profession and the Department of Justice to tackle the causes and symptoms of delays to justice.

Counsel in the program

Lead Counsel

In 2019 there are more than 45 senior advocates, comprising a mix of Senior Juniors and Silks, participating as Lead Counsel in the program.

See Lead Counsel for a list of current participants and other information.

Junior Counsel

In 2019 there are seven juniors currently participating as Junior Counsel. Each can expect to undertake two trials under the direct tutelage of Lead Counsel. Victoria Legal Aid fully funds the brief fees for Junior Counsel, who also participate in training and development opportunities.

See Junior Counsel for a list of current participants and other information.

Solicitors in the program

This program relies on solicitors on the section 29A panels to identify appropriate trials early. Suitable trials are those which:

  • are likely to run to trial and are unlikely to resolve
  • you would expect to run for approximately one to two weeks and are not necessarily complex
  • would not ordinarily attract funding for Junior Counsel
  • are ready to start on their listing date.

See Identifying trials for more information, including how to apply for a grant of legal assistance.

Please note – as of 2019, trials will not be eligible for the program unless the instructing firm pays itemised disbursements directly out of ATLAS

Subject to the availability of Lead Counsel, solicitors are then encouraged to brief Lead Counsel from the program in these trials. Junior Counsel will be allocated in consultation with instructing solicitors after Lead Counsel has been briefed. This is usually done by the VLA Chambers Advocates Clerks determining availability of the juniors and providing a list to the instructor. 

Participation in this program is completely voluntary. We urge solicitors to bring trials to us, and to work with us to ensure that Junior Counsel get the training and appearance opportunities they need. We strongly believe that collaboration between the TCDP and instructing firms is enriching and improving the quality of trial advocacy in Victorian courts.

Contact us

For more information, please email tcdp@vla.vic.gov.au or contact:

  • Jessie Taylor, Associate Director, VLA Chambers on (03) 9269 0358
  • Damien Farnfield, Briefing Manager on (03) 9269 0468.

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