The Advocacy Program

The Institute's Mandate

The principal goal of the Institute is to provide free, non-partisan advocacy advice to lawyers appearing in an appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada. The Institute aims to assist the Bar, the Supreme Court of Canada, and the public. The Institute contributes to the public and the legal community by increasing the effectiveness and quality of advocacy before the Court. Beneficiaries include lawyers and their clients, the Supreme Court of Canada, and the legal community at large.

Advocacy Program

Advocacy sessions are for counsel appearing in an appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada. They are open to both sides of an appeal and available to both private and government lawyers. 

The advocacy program is delivered in the format of an advocacy session, in which counsel practice their oral argument before an advocacy panel. Advocacy panels are composed of senior appellate counsel, former Supreme Court law clerks, and professors of law selected from a pool of advocacy advisors registered with the Institute. Panel members donate their time on a voluntary, non-partisan basis and prepare seriously for the practice hearing.

During an advocacy session, the panel listens to counsel's argument in a formal setting and tests counsel's submissions in order to simulate the experience before the Supreme Court. The advocacy advisors offer critiques of the argument as well as general comments to help maximize counsel's opportunity to present an effective, informative oral argument. The advocacy sessions are designed to help counsel in further refining their arguments and to familiarize counsel with the general proceedings of the Court.

The Process

Counsel wishing to enrol in the Institute’s advocacy program should contact the Institute at least thirty (30) days in advance of their hearing before the Supreme Court.
Counsel will be expected to provide a copy of written submissions at the time of registration in order to permit the Institute to organize a panel hearing. In cases of demonstrated hardship, the Institute will cover copying expenses.

Conflict of Interest

Conflict of interest guidelines have been established, including regarding any relationship between advocacy advisors and the parties or interveners appearing before the Supreme Court. A cross-check between the panel members and counsel appearing before the Supreme Court in the case will be performed prior to the panel hearing.

Resources for Self-Represented Litigants

Self-represented litigants are invited to refer to the Supreme Court of Canada's resource page here.