PLD401 - Advocacy

Outline info
Last revision date 2018-03-12 00:00:04.183
Last review date 2018-04-10 15:46:27.319

Subject Title

Subject Description
This subject teaches the student the advocacy skills required in Small Claims Court, Provincial Offences Court and Tribunals. Students prepare and present opening statements, examinations-in-chief, cross-examinations and closing arguments in class. At the end of the term, students participate in a mock trial.

Credit Status
This is a credit course applicable towards the Paralegal Certificate Program offered through the Faculty of Continuing Education.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

  1. Explain the roles and be prepared to demonstrate the basic techniques of opening statements, examinations, cross-examinations, re-examinations, closing arguments, and submissions for costs or sentencing.
  2. Conduct a client interview to determine
    1. Whether the client can receive advice and give instructions;
    2. What legal rights are at stake;
    3. What remedies may be available;
    4. What the client seeks; and
    5. Whether the client can be represented by a paralegal.
  3. Using hypothetical sets of facts, gather and analyze facts, documents and legal sources in a potential legal dispute to develop and assess a theory of a case and determine what evidence needs to be developed.
  4. During in-class simulations,
    1. Deliver an opening statement based on a theory developed by the student;
    2. Conduct at least one mock direct examination that would be acceptable in a court proceeding where rules of evidence were strictly followed and that showed the student's ability to prepare the witness;
    3. Conduct at least one mock cross examination that would be acceptable in a court proceeding where rules of evidence were strictly followed and one that exploits the advantages of cross examinations in adversarial proceedings;
    4. Tender and authenticate exhibits;
    5. Make appropriate objections; and
    6. Present a sentencing submission or submission on costs.
  5. Display acceptable courtroom etiquette in simulations and role plays.
  6. Develop communication and team-building skills by working in groups on in-class assignments and presenting the work of the group to the class.
  7. Working in a team, participate in a mock trial or hearing to combine skills developed by the simulations throughout the course to take a case from theory through to closing argument.
  8. Demonstrate an attitude of professionalism, as evidenced by an ability to meet deadlines, complete assignments and perform tests and in-class assignments as scheduled.

Essential Employability Skills
Communicate clearly, concisely and correctly in the written, spoken and visual form that fulfils the purpose and meets the needs of the audience.

Respond to written, spoken, or visual messages in a manner that ensures effective communication.

Apply a systematic approach to solve problems.

Use a variety of thinking skills to anticipate and solve problems.

Locate, select, organize, and document information using appropriate technology and information systems.

Analyze, evaluate, and apply relevant information from a variety of sources.

Show respect for diverse opinions, values, belief systems, and contributions of others.

Interact with others in groups or teams in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals.

Manage the use of time and other resources to complete projects.

Take responsibility for one's own actions, decisions, and consequences.

Cheating and Plagiarism
Each student should be aware of the College's policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism. Seneca's Academic Policy will be strictly enforced.

To support academic honesty at Seneca College, all work submitted by students may be reviewed for authenticity and originality, utilizing software tools and third party services. Please visit the Academic Honesty site on for further information regarding cheating and plagiarism policies and procedures.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.

All Modules One to Four Courses

It is your responsibility to ensure that program requirements and course prerequisites as outlined are met. Prerequisites are included for your academic protection. Course content and your instructor's teaching assumes that students are academically prepared and instruction will proceed accordingly. Students lacking prerequisites not only jeopardize their own ability to succeed but present unnecessary interruption. If you lack appropriate prerequisites (or advanced standing for the prerequisite course) you may be asked to withdraw or transfer to a more appropriate course with the risk of academic/financial penalty. 

Topic Outline

  • Court etiquette
  • Order of proceeding at trial

  • Gathering information
  • Case analysis and planning (Reviewing pleadings and documents)
  • Interviewing the witnesses
  • Identifying legal issues
  • Researching the relevant law
  • Determining how you will put the facts into evidence
  • Assessing your theory of case

  • Purpose of the opening statement
  • Preparing the opening statement
  • Presenting the opening statement


  • Purpose of direct examination
  • Purpose of re-examination
  • Witness preparation
  • Order of evidence
  • Principles of Direct examination
  • Introduction and using exhibits
  • Compelling witnesses


  • Purpose of cross-examination
  • Witness preparation
  • Principles of cross-examination


  • Purpose of the closing argument
  • Preparation
  • Structuring the closing argument
  • Presenting the closing argument


  • Purpose of objections
  • How to object
  • When to object
  • What to object to
  • Anticipating and responding to objections at trial


  • How to speak to costs at trial


  • Trial notebook


Mode of Instruction
Students learn through interactive classroom lectures, discussion and group problem solving.

It is the student's responsibility to save documents, articles and notes that the instructor has provided on Blackboard or in class. Students will not be able to access Blackboard as of the last day of the student's class.

Prescribed Texts
Blatt, A. and Kurtz, J. Advocacy for Paralegals. Toronto: Emond Montgomery. 2017. ISBN#9781552395967

Reference Material

Promotion Policy

Grading Policy
A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online ( or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation
Grading is based on the following marking scheme:

Classroom Presentations 40%
Court Report 10%
Mock Trial 25%
In Class Assignments 25%

Materials permitted into tests and exams are at the discretion of the instructor.
Students must attain a grade of at least 50% to pass the course.

Please Note
  • Exams are evaluated on subject knowledge as well as correct language usage, organization, and mastery of the subject.

Absenteeism and Tests
  • Students should be aware that absenteeism will impact on their ability to achieve satisfactory grades.
  • If you miss a test, you must provide the reason in writing to the instructor prior to the next scheduled class. If your reason is accepted, you will be permitted to write a make-up test. Otherwise, you will be given a zero for the test. You must submit an original doctor’s certificate identifying the date, length of time of expected absence and the specific reason for your absence, or other appropriate documentation.

Academic Honesty

Students at Seneca College are expected to be honest and forthright in their academic endeavours. When students cheat on an examination, steal the words or ideas of another, or falsify their research results, it corrupts the learning process. A Seneca College degree, diploma or certificate signifies to society mastery of a set of defined learning outcomes in a designated field of study. If academic credit is obtained dishonestly, the value of every graduate's diploma in the field of study is diminished, as is the reputation of the college as a whole.

Penalties for Academic Dishonesty

The penalty for a first offence is a grade of '0' on the assignment or examination. The penalty for the second offence is expulsion for a time period determined by the Academic Honesty Committee, normally for a minimum of three terms.
For further information refer to the policies section of the Seneca College student handbook, or to the following website: 

Prior Learning Assessment
Please be advised that, in accordance with current Law Society of Ontario Paralegal Education Program Accreditation Policy guidelines (September, 2017, ss. 2.15 and 3.8), PLA for prior work experience is no longer permitted in any of the compulsory legal courses in the certificate program, including the field placement. All students, regardless of prior work-related training must fulfil the requirements of all components of the Paralegal Program.

Approved by: Sandra Noble