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.

Victoria Legal Aid is a significant procurer of advocacy services. It is our responsibility to ensure that the advocates our clients experience are of consistently good quality and able to deliver appropriate outcomes. The Trial Counsel Development Program aims to develop a skilled and steady pool of quality advocates at the Junior Bar.

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

There are close to 40 senior advocates, comprising a mix of Senior Juniors and Silks, currently participating as Lead Counsel in the program.

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

Junior Counsel

There are 13 juniors currently participating as Junior Counsel from the 2012 intake of the program. Approximately six juniors will participate in the 2014 intake. 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 skills-based advocacy training through the Australian Advocacy Institute.

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:

  • will actually run as a 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.

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 after Lead Counsel has been briefed.

Participation in this program is completely voluntary. We urge solicitors to work with us to ensure that Junior Counsel get the training opportunities they need. We strongly believe that in working collaboratively, the program will succeed and ultimately benefit the criminal justice system.

Contact us

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

  • Shannon Dellamarta, Practice and Briefing Manager on (03) 9269 0130
  • Kate McDonald, Advocates Clerk on (03) 9269 0482.