US advocacy rules supreme

Michael Bowes' article on the "revolutionary method" of advocacy teaching introduced by the Australian judiciary rightly pointed out the faults in the old "observe and learn methods" and that advocacy cannot be learned from reading.

However, I feel compelled to correct him in his view that this innovative method hails from Australia. Indeed, what he described is referred to as the Nita method (National Institute of Trial Advocacy) and it originates from the US. It is now being demonstrated at Nottingham Law School under the title Nita (UK).

Its basis is that experience is the best teacher. The problem with traditional teaching methods has been the little opportunity to practise and fine-tune one's skills, save on an unwitting public, by which time, it is too late. As a teacher previously and a practising barrister now, in my view, this method lends itself to aspiring barristers, pupils and old hacks alike. However long one has been practising, there is always room for improvement and this teaching method allows reflection on and examination of bad habits.

While I am delighted to note that the Inns of Court are now using these methods as part of their continuing education programme, I reiterate that the credit for its introduction belongs to our friends at NITA.

Elissa Da Costa

Verulam Chambers