Larios Tres Legal 

Oratory and rhetoric:

Fulminant communication weapons in the legal profession.

In a society of mass communication, overshadowed by technology, atrophied bureaucracy and the absence of human talent that settles for comfortable mediocrity; we must take care more than ever of skills such as public speaking.

These skills are especially important for lawyers who actively practice law in Chambers.

Today’s global marketplace demands a continuous pursuit of excellence, and excellence is comprised of both substance and form.

By “form”, we are referring not only to the structural and grammatical aesthetics of our legal briefs, or to the effective and careful drafting of business documents.

The form as part of excellence is perceived by clients, judges and opponents, on the totality of the beats that emit our daily actions both at a personal and professional level.

The ethics, the rigor, the detailed study of the elements that compose the case to defend. A whole developed and executed in an excellent way.

Well, part of this is the way that lawyers and professionals have to communicate orally in order to convince and/or persuade their interlocutor. That is to say, to master oratory and rhetoric.


Fernando Aguilar Vijande

Fernando Aguilar Vijande
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And what is oratory and rhetoric? Comunicación.

In the world of communication, oratory is the way of communicating and presenting your arguments.

And rhetoric is an art impregnated with psychological science that aims to maximize effectiveness when practicing such communication. The goal is to convince “someone” of “something”.

Recent studies show that the cerebellum is primarily responsible for cognitive functions such as language processing, attention and other temporary sensory stimuli.

It is the area of the brain that is activated when we use the spoken word to the extent that it brings together a whole set of conditioned and/or learned reflexes that are activated non-consciously and spontaneously.

The first definition given by the RAE about oratory is:  “The art of eloquent speech”. Comunicación

Personally I like better the definition given by D. Manuel Calvo Beca and Doña Mª Dolores del Rio “Oratory seeks the most direct and natural way to get in touch with the audience that has to be convinced without any other defense than their judgment”.


Elements that make up oratory and rhetoric.

In any oral intervention (whether public or private), there are three elements involved in the act: the topic, the speaker, and the audience or “target”.

It is clear that the topic does not require a major problem, since it will be given with the client’s case.

We cannot modify it or make it more interesting beyond knowing how to extract and value the points of usefulness and interest that we consider depending on the situation and the position defended.

However, we do have a certain influence on the other two elements.


On the proficiency of these skills in the practice of law.

For example, in the practice of courtroom advocacy we only have influence:

  • About the speaker: he/she is himself/herself, practicing as an attorney.
  • And about the public: who will really be the judge, since what the opposing party thinks has no bearing on the outcome of the lawsuit. On the contrary, our objective is to “disarm” him by means of our oral intervention.

Therefore, we see that the only thing we can really influence is to improve ourselves as speakers, always bearing in mind for whom we are speaking.

That is to say, to keep in mind that the target audience (the judge) is a normal person. A citizen like us, but who has been listening to other colleagues (more or less qualified) since the first hour of the morning, and who gets tired and loses interest like any other person. Comunicación

Therefore, it is essential to be very attentive to their body language, and to control the rhythms of our interventions with more or less accentuated tones, depending on the key points of importance or emphasis that our speech requires.

These are some of the best tips, according to experts, when it comes to carrying out our presentation:


 –       To know the topic very well.

A thorough prior study is vital so that wear and tear, nerves or unexpected situations do not wreak havoc on us. We must be prepared for the debate even when it does not take place.

We do not know our situation without knowing the possible opposing positions inch by inch. And foresee eventual possible allegations, in order to be prepared and disarm the opponent by counter-arguing without losing concentration. By canceling in advance any possible surprise effects.

To speak on a subject with authority, with weight, we need to master it.


–       To make it our own.

A convinced speaker is already a spectacle worthy of public curiosity and respect. The exposition of a lawyer who firmly believes in he/she is saying has much more weight than his own arguments to convince the audience.


–      In the face of an improvised craft, training is fundamental

The oratory is “ performed ” in front of the judge, on a date fixed in advance. It is said on such and such a day, at such and such an hour. And at that time the inspiration must come, in a brilliant and communicative degree.

Oratory requires widening our circle of confidence through continuous practice so that, when we get to the courtroom, the percentage of internal fears is almost non-existent.

The lawyer must be a better actor than someone who works in the movies, because the “scene” will not be repeated. It is a single act.

He has a single burst of shrapnel in each proceeding and must be accurate so that the “staging” is perfect.

If we are nervous, we should, before starting to speak, take three deep breaths.

This exercise will help our brain to oxygenate while we calm down.


–       Mental fluidity, verbal fluency.

Our brain is a large storehouse of ideas and words. In order to communicate with others, we need to draw material through a small window, successively and continuously. This requires a previous work of pre-selection of ideas and fine-tuning.

We cannot entrust everything to memory, and even less to reading. We must give the correct intonations to the most important parts, raising our voice on occasions on what we want to emphasize. And at the end, make a summary as a closing of conclusions, and go to the point, without digressions.


–       Wear the “parachute” fastened.

At the trial it is necessary to go with a small note (physical or digital) of he/she is going to expose as a summary. But always in outline.

It is the skeleton of the points to be discussed with their respective articles noted down in case you have to resort to them in the event of a mental lapse. A mere reference guide.

All of us lawyers have been left “in albis” at some time or another for lack of this little note. In addition, the outline must respect the procedural structure of the procedure in question.

After all, who would dare to defend an opinion he/she does not feel, in a matter he/she does not know?

The trial lawyer is a soldier of battle who fights for civil rights regardless of the territorial or material jurisdiction in which he/she acts.

He/she puts himself at the service of the citizens to fight a duel with the opponent in that Roman Coliseum that is the courtroom of the Courts and Tribunals. That is why he must sharpen his weapons well and have them ready from his first encounter, no matter how small it may be.

In the field of law, the weapons used are none other than a deep technical-legal study of the case in question, and the absolute mastery of oratory and rhetoric.


Via “El orador y el discurso, artes y partes de la pieza oratoria” (Book) Authors: Manuel Calvo Beca and Mª Dolores del Brío León, personal experiences contrasted with colleagues in the profession.

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