Identifying trials

Identifying trials

Barristers in the Trial Counsel Development Program are given unique training opportunities to partner with senior trial advocates in up to three trials each.

Victoria Legal Aid has recruited 30 senior advocates as Lead Counsel in the program, with a mix of Senior Juniors and Silks.

Solicitors and counsel play an important role as the program relies on them to identify appropriate trials early. Suitable trials are those that:

  • will actually run as a trial (and are unlikely to resolve)
  • are expected to run for one to two weeks
  • are not necessarily complex
  • would not ordinarily attract funding for Junior Counsel
  • are ready to start on their listing date.

Once a trial is included in the program, practitioners brief Lead Counsel on the program list. Junior Counsel are then allocated in consultation with solicitors. Alternatively, practitioners who have briefed one of the Juniors in committals may contact the Associate Director, Chambers (contact details below) to access Lead Counsel for the subsequent trial.

Steps in applying for a grant of legal assistance

Solicitors on section 29A panels should follow the steps below for trials that may be suitable for the program:

  1. The applicant's solicitor applies for a grant of legal assistance using the standard trial template used for single counsel.
  2. The solicitor assesses whether the trial is suitable for the program, and sends a written request to tcdp@vla.vic.gov.au for the Associate Director, Chambers to review.
  3. The Associate Director, Chambers decides the suitability of the trial. As this decision does not fall under the Legal Aid Act 1978, it is not subject to internal review rights. If the Associate Director, Chambers decides that the trial is not suitable for the program, a standard grant will apply.
  4. If the Associate Director, Chambers decides the trial is suitable for the program, an approval number will be given to the solicitor along with the details of Lead Counsel who are available to be briefed for the trial.
  5. Once the trial is approved for the program, the solicitor must apply to Victoria Legal Aid for an extension of aid in ATLAS+ using the program template. The template prompts the solicitor to confirm that they have received approval from the Associate Director, Chambers and to quote the approval number. If the solicitor has not confirmed approval by the Associate Director, Chambers, the extension cannot be submitted through ATLAS+.
  6. The solicitor runs the trial, and claims all costs under the invoices issued specifically for the program.
  7. The solicitor must keep the Associate Director, Chambers or Advocates Clerk informed on the status of the trial throughout the trial’s duration and the outcome.

For details about fees see the guide to fees in criminal trials in the VLA Handbook for lawyers.

Contact us

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

  • Shannon Dellamarta, Associate Director, Chambers on (03) 9269 0130
  • Kirstie Vonk, Senior Advocates Clerk on (03) 9269 0432.