Dalhousie Law Journal


T. W. Wakeling


Appellate work, advocates, uneven quality, master craftsmen, skills, poor advocates, competence, practioners


Anyone who haunts the courtrooms of North America will find advocates of uneven quality. 1 There are master craftsmen but alongside them labour colleagues blessed with skills which escape the observer's scrutiny. Unfortunately, the latter category has been the subject of considerable attention lately with the result there is the impression about that poor advocates have cornered a disproportionate share of the market. Even Canadian and American judges have felt it necessary to question the competence of some practioners. Chief Justice Burger directed his serious charges at the trial lawyers but the appellate bar, the subject of this study, has been the target of the odd judicial barb. Judge Wilkins sums up this disenchantment with his complaint that the bar's oral abilities are their "least qualitative accomplishments". 4 Given the prominent place these skills assume in the appellate chambers this is a stinging indictment.

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