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Advanced Legal Reasoning Skills

One-day Workshop


Lawyers are frequently required to develop arguments and to communicate those arguments in written prose.  These arguments often involve complex chains of reasoning.  Developing such arguments, and presenting them clearly, are difficult and time-consuming tasks.

A technique known as argument mapping can help lawyers articulate complex reasoning and produce better-organised, more compelling documents.  Argument mapping is producing "box and arrow" diagrams of reasoning. This process is now supported by specialist software. 

This one-day, practice-based workshop covers the fundamentals of argument mapping for legal reasoning and writing.  The relevant concepts and skills are introduced and practiced in the context of one common task, producing a short legal advice. 


Participants will find the workshop helps them

  • Construct well-formed arguments
  • Express complex reasoning in written prose
  • Learn basic principles of argument mapping
  • Produce a quality legal advice


The workshop has four main sessions spread over two half-day sessions

Day 1

1. Introduction and Overview

  • Qualities of a good legal advice
  • Example: a poorly-drafted advice
  • Introduction to argument mapping
  • Argument mapping activity

2. Microstructure: Simple Arguments

A simple argument is a specific piece of evidence bearing upon a single claim. Simple arguments are the building blocks of all reasoning.

  • Claims, premises and co-premises
  • Evidential relationships
  • "Rabbit" and "Holding Hands" principles for articulating simple arguments
  • Simple argument templates for legal reasoning
  • Simple argument exercises

Day 2

3. Macrostructure: Well-formed Complex Arguments

  • Combining simple arguments
  • The "Pyramid" principle, governing the hierarchical structure of complex arguments
  • The "MECE" principle, governing structure at a given level
  • Argument redrafting activity

4. Expressing Complex Arguments in Prose.

  • Mapping from an argument tree to prose
  • Argument structure indicators
  • Advice-writing activity
  • Summary and evaluation

Workshop Leaders

Dr. Tim van Gelder, Austhink principal, and Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Melbourne. Tim is a specialist in argument mapping and developer of the Reason!Able software.

Andrew Palmer, Barrister and Senior Lecturer in the Law School at the University of Melbourne. Andrew teaches Evidence and applies argument mapping techniques in his teaching.


The standard Austhink fee is $2,000 + GST per trainer per day plus travel expenses.


For further information please contact Tim van Gelder - 03 9225 5218 - fax 03 9347 1504


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