How to apply

How to apply

Expressions of interest for the 2020–2021 Trial Counsel Development Program (TCDP) are now open and will close at midnight on Sunday 24 May 2020.

Applications should be submitted by email to

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.

COVID-19 and the TCDP

At the time of writing, the criminal Bar is suffering a significant reduction in its volume of work. Many trials are currently adjourned to November 2020. While this is a strange and unsettling time for many, we are looking to recruit a cohort of TCDP juniors who will be ready to be briefed in trials as soon as listings resume.

What to address in your application

You need to outline your experience as a criminal law advocate, addressing each of the key selection criteria below. Please keep your response to the key selection criteria to a 1000-word limit in total. You will also need to attach your current curriculum vitae.

Important information

  • You do not need to have an established trial practice to apply for this program. That said, substantial experience in criminal advocacy is necessary. Counsel applying should be those approaching readiness to commence a trial practice.
  • You must provide a nomination letter from a senior member of the Bar or a respected senior member of the profession, such as a senior solicitor, magistrate or judge. This requirement will help the selection panel to assess your readiness for the program. As there are limited places, why you should be offered a place in the program should also be addressed.
  • Short-listed applicants will be required to undergo a short written exercise followed by an oral advocacy exercise before a panel (this process will likely take place during June / July 2020, and in accordance with government recommendations around the control of COVID19).

Key selection criteria

You must address the following key selection criteria:

  • Demonstrated interest in developing a career as a criminal law advocate, particularly as defence counsel promoting social justice and the protection of human rights, by providing expert advice, opinions and representation in complex criminal proceedings.
  • Thorough knowledge and experience in the court practice of criminal law, including as an advocate in the Magistrates’ Court and with some experience in indictable and contested matters, under both state and federal legislation.
  • Thorough knowledge and understanding of the laws of evidence and criminal procedure.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills, including the ability to liaise and negotiate with prosecutorial authorities, police, welfare and other agencies along with the ability to communicate effectively with clients from culturally diverse backgrounds and those who are socially and economically disadvantaged.
  • Commitment to develop your legal and advocacy skills through active participation in criminal trials and a willingness to engage in an effective mentoring relationship with senior counsel.


If you already applied for inclusion in this program in previous years you are welcome to apply again, but you will need to complete the above process afresh.

Contact us

For more information, please email or contact:

  • Jessie Taylor, Associate Director, VLA Chambers on (03) 9269 0358.
  • Damien Farnfield, Briefing Manager, VLA Chambers on (03) 9269 0300.


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