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Bar Readers' Course

The Victorian Bar Readers' Course is recognised for its comprehensive approach to introduction to life as a barrister. Beyond world-class oral & written advocacy and legal practice, readers are taught ethics, forensic skills, how to run a sole practice, 'soft skills', marketing and practice development.

The Bar Readers’ Course runs for a total of 9-10 weeks. The objective of the Bar Readers’ Course is to enable readers to effect a successful transition to life at the Bar. All readers have successfully completed law degrees as well as the Bar’s entrance exam. Some will have previously practised extensively as solicitors, while others will have had limited experience of legal practice.

The course assumes knowledge of core legal principles, including the subject matter that was tested in the entrance exam. It aims to build on this existing base of knowledge with an intense and challenging focus upon the particular skills demanded of specialist advocates.

A Comprehensive Course

During the course, readers are exposed to the entire anatomy of court and trial practice, including out-of-court preparation, interlocutory appearances, opening and closing addresses, the examination and cross-examination of witnesses, legal argument and submissions. Emphasis is placed upon the importance of forensic and strategic thinking, the development of coherent case theories, the anticipation and resolution of evidentiary issues, and effective and persuasive communication both orally and in writing.

A major part of the course comprises oral exercises, moots and mock hearings, giving participants the opportunity to develop, practise and hone oral advocacy skills, observe different styles of advocacy, and receive feedback from experienced judges and advocates. The oral advocacy component of the course is assessed twice. Successful completion of the final assessment is a precondition to signing the Roll of Counsel.

Another significant component of the course is dedicated to the development of written skills, including pleadings, affidavits and submissions. Participants are required to submit a number of written exercises, which are reviewed by experienced members of the Bar giving detailed feedback.

Rules of ethics and principles of good conduct are central to the work of barristers. The importance of adherence to those rules and principles in practice, and learning how to deal with ethical issues when they arise, are recurrent themes in the course. 

Barristers are sole practitioners, responsible for running their own businesses. The course assists in preparing participants to conduct their own practice, from emphasising the importance of independence and excellence when providing legal services, to the nuts and bolts of relationships with clients, solicitors, clerks, colleagues, the Bar and the wider community.

The course is comprised of a mix of lectures, workshops, interactive sessions and exercises, led by judges, magistrates, and experienced counsel who generously volunteer their time and expertise to provide the best possible introduction to life at the Bar. The course is a fine example of the excellent working relationship between Bench and Bar, and showcases the collegiality of our Bar. 

The readers’ course provides a unique opportunity to develop the skills to come to the Bar, make mistakes, receive constructive feedback, and make lifelong friendships.

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the Readers’ Course run?
The readers’ course runs for nine to ten weeks in March and September each year. 
The March 2020 Readers' Course commencement date is Thursday 5 March 2020.  
How much does the course cost?
When do I have to pay by?
What can I expect during the course?
Is there assessment during the course that I have to pass?
What if I don’t pass the assessment?
Is there anything I have to do before the readers’ course starts?
I have passed the exam and been offered a place in the readers’ course. Can I defer the date I’m due to start the readers’ course
I am a very experienced solicitor advocate. Is it possible to be exempted from some aspects of the readers’ course?
What if circumstances arise during the readers’ course that prevents me from completing the course?
I have paid for the readers’ course but now I want to withdraw from the course. Can I get a refund?
Do you allocate spaces to Indigenous lawyers?

All readers must have a mentor during their reading period.

For the seven months following the readers’ course, your primary place of business will be in your mentor’s chambers, which you shall occupy rent free while you receive briefs and build your practice.

General Reading Period Information

What is a mentor?

According to the reading regulations, a mentor must:

  • not be a Queen’s Counsel or senior counsel at the commencement of the reading period;
  • must be in active practice and a member of the Victorian Bar; and
  • must have no less than 10 years standing on the Bar Roll by the end of the reading period.
How do I get a mentor?
What should I look for in a mentor?
When do I need to find a mentor?
What can I expect from my mentor?
What happens at the end of the reading period?
What is a senior mentor?
How do I get a senior mentor?
What can I expect from my senior mentor?
How do I apply to a clerk list?