Practical Legal Skills

Fifth Edition

Ross Hyams, Adrian Evans

Practical Legal Skills

Fifth Edition

Ross Hyams, Adrian Evans






1 Nov 2021




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$86.99 NZD

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The essential handbook for law clinics.

Practical Legal Skills is an established and respected handbook for all those engaged in legal education. It is an essential guide to becoming a skilled and ethical lawyer.

Being a lawyer involves not only understanding the fundamental practice of law, but how it is best applied. Written by an expert author team, this book focuses on the development of interpersonal skills such as, communication and negotiation alongside the practical skills of writing, advising and interviewing.

In an ever-changing world, practising lawyers need to be able to react and pivot in their practice. In response to the pandemic, this new edition addresses new and arising issues of online security and analysis of contemporary ethical problems. Updated with real-world exercises and scenarios, it supports students in graduating with the relevant skills and capabilities to confidently practice law.


  • The use of AI in legal practice and its impact on employability. 
  • The accelerated use of virtual courts, internet-based global legal businesses, Zoom interviewing and fully online document production.
  • Social media profiles and the change in communication methods.
  • How to identify, analyse and resolve an ethical problem.
  • How to deal with online security including:
    • Protecting client information against email hacks
    • Wi-fi and email in ‘public’ spaces
    • Cloud computing and remote backup.


1. Introduction
The role of skills teaching in legal education
Content and method
The limitations of practical legal training
Enjoying law school
Skills and values
Skills teaching: The distinction between ethical content and process
Teacher and mentor values
Good ethics does not mean being squeamish
Learning with this book

2. Interviewing: Listening and Questioning
The structure of an interview
The three-stage process of interviewing
Ethical dangers in interviewing

3. Interviewing: Advising

Summarising the facts
Giving advice
Techniques for arriving at decisions
Barriers to communication
Professional rules and ethical considerations

4. Keeping out of Trouble
What sorts of ethical problems exist?
Common ethical problem areas
Dealing with online security

5. Writing and Drafting
Communication in writing: Why is it different?
Emails and other electronic communication methods
Document retention
Essential preliminaries
Ethical issues in letter writing
How to produce ‘plain English’
Words and sentences
Structuring a letter
Reports, memoranda, and other in-house documents
Drafting legal documents

6. Negotiation and Mediation
Collaborative law

7. Advocacy
The objective of advocacy
Mainstream Magistrates/Local Court: Guilty pleas
Federal Circuit Court of Australia: Application to dispense with service
Supreme Court: Interlocutory applications


Ross Hyams is a Practising Solicitor and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at Monash University.

Adrian Evans is Emeritus Professor at Monash University.

Ross Hyams is a practising solicitor and Law Faculty Director of Work Integrated Learning at Monash University. He worked in private practice as a solicitor in a commercial legal firm from 1987 until 1990. He has taught in the Faculty of Law clinical program since 1990. He was the Coordinator of the Monash-Oakleigh Legal Service from 1990 to 2000 and then, from 2001 to 2005, Director of the Springvale Monash Legal Service. In 2004 he was awarded the Law Institute of Victoria President's Inaugural Community Lawyers' Award in recognition of outstanding contributions made within the legal profession and beyond. Adrian Evans has taught, practised law and consulted in a clinical legal education context for thirty five years at LaTrobe and Monash Universities. He was coordinator of Springvale Legal Service Inc. from 1988-2000, the largest Australian clinical site. He is both an academic and a legal practitioner, with teaching responsibilities in legal systems, legal ethics and clinical case supervision. He has empirically examined and published in relation to law students' and lawyers' values, best practice' ethics for lawyers and law firms, quality' clinical-traditional links in law teaching, client attitudes to lawyers, clinical resourcing, evaluation and assessment, approaches to monitoring and controlling defalcations and the ethical environment in which lawyer's fidelity compensation is addressed locally and internationally, and the virtue ethics implications for legal practice in a struggling and conflicted global legal profession.