The Advocacy Podcast

James Rapley QC

James Rapley QC explores what makes written submissions stand out and how to excel in the appellate courts.

Show notes 

  • James’ journey as an advocate, and particular skill.
  • Teaching advocacy in the South Pacific.
  • What do judges want to see in written submissions?
  • Tips to make submissions as punchy as possible.
  • Questions to ask yourself when drafting.
  • How to deal with your opponents’ case in writing.
  • Using headings to persuade.
  • James’ recommended books and advocacy courses.
  • The differences, and similarities, speaking to a jury and speaking to an appellate tribunal.
  • Know who is in charge of your appeal.
  • How James prepares for an appeal hearing, including for judicial interventions, and to hold his nerves.
  • How to use oral submissions to enhance your written case.
  • James’ example of starting an appeal hearing strongly.

Books mentioned:

Advocacy, Anthony Willy and James Rapley
Fundamentals of Trial Techniques, by Thomas Mauet
Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation’s Top Advocates, Ross Guberman
Golden Rules of Advocacy, Keith Evans
The Devil’s Advocate, Iain Morley QC
Making Your Case, Justice Scalia and Brian Garner

Courses mentioned:

The Australian Bar Association’s Advanced Trial Advocacy Intensive
The Australian Bar Association’s Appellate Advocacy Workshop

James Rapley QC practices from Bridgeside Chambers in Christchurch, New Zealand, having been called to the bar in 2004 after nearly ten years as a senior prosecutor for the Serious Fraud Office and Crown Solicitor’s Office. He was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 2018, and specialises in criminal defence litigation, across serious fraud, drug, murder, sexual crimes and other crimes of violence, together with regulatory prosecution work. 

Among many high profile cases, James was counsel in the Royal Commission hearings in 2011 on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy and the Canterbury Earthquakes. He has also been appointed by the District and High Courts as amicus curiae, most recently in R v Tully, an infamous double murder case in New Zealand.

Together with Judge Tony Willy, James co-authored a central text in New Zealand’s legal literature entitled ‘Advocacy’, and teaches trial advocacy at several key universities in the region. Further to this, he provides strategic advice to the Secretary for Justice regarding provision of legal aid and community legal services, and has established a mentoring committee to assist young practitioners in Christchurch. 

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