Contemporary criminal defence practice: importance of active involvement at the investigative stage and related training requirements

Anna Pivaty*, Miet Vanderhallen, Yvonne Daly, Vicky Conway

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Web of Science)


The shifting focus of criminal proceedings from the trial to the pre-trial stages leads to a changing role of criminal defence practitioners across Europe. European criminal defence lawyers are now expected to enter the proceedings earlier and exercise “active” and “participatory” defence as early as the investigative stage. Criminal lawyers, trained in the traditional trial-centred paradigm, are ill-prepared for this role, which results in an important skills gap. Legal representation at the investigative stage presents unique challenges, such as shortage of information, time pressures and the closed nature of pre-trial proceedings. It requires lawyers to operate in a more complex communication environment, than the one to which they have been accustomed. This article sets out the main elements of a professional training programme aiming to fill in the emerging skills gap. The training programme (SUPRALAT) was successfully implemented in Belgium, Hungary, Ireland and the Netherlands, and is being expanded further. The training focuses on effective communication skills, experiential learning and the development of reflective skills. It includes elements of interprofessional training and encourages the development of “communities of practice”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-44
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of the Legal Profession
Issue number1
Early online date29 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020



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