Oratory and eloquence have been among the prime virtues of an individual since times immemorial. In Ancient Greece, the enterprising life was considered to be based on the three major pillars of civilization: the language, the substance of things, and practical performance. The Sophists never failed to emphasize the power of the spoken word. Not only is speech a distinctive biological feature which makes human beings evolutionary different from the lower species but it is also a powerful means of expressing human quintessence and a fundamental embodiment of the entire social communication and social practices. Aristotle made a clear distinction between the logical substance of speech (logos) and the linguistic style (lexis). Quintilian also distinguished between the substance of things and the instruments of articulation. Being aware of both, a competent speaker was the one who could correlate the mind (reasoning) and the language.
The speaker has a significant impact on the listeners. According to Cicero, "the wisdom of the speaker's words overwhelms the spirit whereas the eloquent words caress one's sense of hearing, move people's hearts, eliminate doubt, provide crucial advice in times of distress, protect the innocent, encourage the reluctant ones, rescue the depressed ones, liberate the persecuted ones, bring the prodigal ones to their senses, overpower the opponents, win over the irresolute minds, convert the distrustful minds, incarcerate the outlaws, uphold justice and refute injustice, challenge and defend with an equal power of argumentation."
Rhetoric skills have always been a crucial and intrinsic part of law. It is often taken for granted that a lawyer must be a good speaker, having good knowledge not only of the legal substance and objectives of law but also a solid understanding of the underlying methods, techniques and skills of persuasive argumentation aimed at expressing the substance in an outspoken fashion. In the course of history, lawyers have been regarded as the most competent speakers because the nature of the legal profession calls for a clear, concise, persuasive, legally grounded and well-argumented verbal communication ultimately aimed at safeguarding the truth, fairness and justice.
The Law Faculty has been organizing the annual competition in rhetoric art since 1995. In 2003 Undergraduate Curriculum, rhetoric art was introduced as an elective course in the 4th year study program. As an optional extracurricular activity, the Law Faculty annually organizes a training course for participants in the Faculty rhetoric art competition. The Coordinator of the rhetoric art competition and the training course is dr Slaviša Kovačević, LLD.