Critics’ Reviews

…Rhetoric is a much neglected topic in the study of law and this book is a very welcome addition to the few books published on the topic. – The Criminal Lawyer, 192 September/October 2009

This book provides a welcome reminder that the art of advocacy is a matter for self-analysis and cannot be left to academic reflection alone. The bar does not have a monopoly on forensic advocacy, but it does provide a community having a depth of experience and skill in that field which is unequalled elsewhere in our society. The efficient administration of justice, which is the ultimate public good service by a specialist bar, can only benefit from a serious focus on the skills required for expert advocacy. If this book stimulates such activity it will have served an important public purpose. It deserves to be widely read. – UNSW Law Journal, Volume 32(1)

One is left with a sense of deep admiration for the scholarship and enthusiasm which has produced this book. At the heart of it is the debate about the nature of the Bar, its past and its future, which emerges from the thoughtful papers of two very distinguished former judges and one sitting judge of Australia’s highest court. One feel that the Bar will survive as an institution serving a vital public need and offering a rewarding career for people of intelligence and character. But many things, including the style and techniques of advocacy, will probably change, just as they have in the past. – Hon Peter Heerey QC, (2009) 83 Australian Law Journal 486

The contributors to the excellent set of essays – renown justices, barristers, an ANU lecturer, etc – are all focused in one thing: rescuing the art of rhetoric in the practice of law, as it slides into oblivion in Australia.

Part I deals with the origins of rhetoric in Greco-Roman times, which certainly deserves a look; Part II, with its practice in Court, and Part III, with the politics of persuasion, which includes an essay on Obama’s rhetoric. This allows easy access to the area that may interest you.

There is a wealth of information in these essays for those who practice law. – Ethos, ACT Law Society Journal, June 2009

It traces the birth of rhetoric in ancient Greece and Rome then moves on to the Middle Ages and The Renaissance. The rise of the barrister class in the late 19th century and the best speeches from the political arena are examined too.

The most entertaining chapters are those that don’t get bogged down with the overly academic style and the constant qualifications that make the law such hard work for the layman.

There are many entertaining extracts from the likes of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and Hermogenes, however and Gleeson is most adept at observing one of the tips from the ancients: entertain as well as inform…

The modern part of the book features three High Court judges, Michael McHugh, Michael Kirby and John Dyson Heydon, university lecturer Thomas and former speechwriter to Gough Whitlam, Graham Freudenberg. It contains some entertaining accounts of great legal cases, most notably by McHugh. …the most useful offering for today’s lawyer comes from Heydon, who ditches his wooden style of judgment writing to offer an at-times cheeky appraisal of modern advocates. – Michael Pelly, The Weekend Australian, Review, January 24-25, 2009

Rediscovering Rhetoric is a book about advocacy, but not one in the ordinary mould. As befits a collection of essays, the topic is approached from several angles. The book moves from Greco-Roman tradition to modern politics via adversarial court proceedings in the modern era. It contains its fair share of “straight talk” – especially from the ranks of judges of the High Court of Australia, past and present – but an excessively linear path to learning is eschewed. …

The scope and breadth of Rediscovering Rhetoric could have justified subtitles other than that selected. One might have been What We Say, We Are. The editors have assembled an insightful collection of essays which tells us much of the current state of the Australian legal profession as well as the art of advocacy. …

The breadth of Rediscovering Rhetoric’s range ensure that there is grist for every mill. The editors are to be commended, as is the New South Wales Bar Association for promoting the seminars which gave birth to the essays. – Australian Bar Review, Summer Edition, December 2008

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