Storytelling for Lawyers

ISBN : 9780195396638

Philip Meyer
256 ページ
160 x 234 mm

Good lawyers have an ability to tell stories. Whether they are arguing a murder case or a complex financial securities case, they can capably explain a chain of events to judges and juries so that they understand them. The best lawyers are also able to construct narratives that have an emotional impact on their intended audiences. But what is a narrative, and how can lawyers go about constructing one? How does one transform a cold presentation of facts into a seamless story that clearly and compellingly takes readers not only from point A to point B, but to points C, D, E, F, and G as well? In Storytelling for Lawyers, Phil Meyer explains how. He begins with a pragmatic theory of the narrative foundations of litigation practice and then applies it to a range of practical illustrative examples: briefs, judicial opinions and oral arguments. Intended for legal practitioners, teachers, law students, and even interdisciplinary academics, the book offers a basic yet comprehensive explanation of the central role of narrative in litigation. The book also offers a narrative tool kit that supplements the analytical skills traditionally emphasized in law school as well as practical tips for practicing attorneys that will help them craft their own legal stories.


Chapter 1 - Introduction
I. Lawyers are Storytellers
II. Legal Arguments are Stories in Disguise
III. The Parts of a Story
IV. Movies and Closing Arguments
Chapter 2 - Plotting I: The Basics
I. What is Plot?
II. Plot Structure in Two Movies
Chapter 3 - Plotting II: Plot Structure in a Closing Argument to a Jury in a
Complex Torts Case
I. The "
II. Annotated Excerpts from Spence's Closing Argument on Behalf of Karen
III. Concluding Observations
Chapter 4 - Character Lessons: Character, Character Development, and
I. Introduction: Why Emphasize Movie Characters in Legal Storytelling?
II. What is Character, and Why Is It Important to Legal Storytellers?
III. Flat and Round Characters and Static and Changing
Characters-High Noon Revisited
IV. Techniques of Character Development and Characterization-Excerpts
from Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life
Chapter 5 - Characters, Character Development, and Characterization in a
Closing Argument to a Jury in a Complex Criminal Case
I. The "
II. Excerpts from the Opening: Act I-" and "
III. Concluding Observations
Chapter 6 - Style Matters: How to Use Voice, Point of View, Details and
Images, Rhythms of Language, Scene and Summary, and Quotations and
Transcripts in Effective Legal Storytelling
I. Back Story: Grading Law School Examinations
II. Preliminary Note: " and "
III. Voice and Rhythm: "
IV. The Use of Scene and Summary: "
V. Telling in Different Voices
VI. Perspective or Point of View
VII. Several Functions of Perspective: How Does Perspective (Point of View)
Work, and What Work Does it Do?
VIII. Concluding Observations
Chapter 7 - A Sense of Place: Settings, Descriptions and Environments
I. Introduction
II. Dangerous Territory: Contrasting Settings Evoking Danger and Instability in
Joan Didion's " and the Judicial Opinion in a Rape Case
III. More Dangerous Places Where Bad Things Happen: Use of Physical
Descriptions and Factual Details to Create Complex Environments in W.G.
Sebald's The Emigrants and the Petitioners' Briefs in Two Coerced Confession
IV. Settings and Environment as Villains and Villainy in the Mitigation Stories
of Kathryn Harrison's While They Slept and the Petitioner's Brief in
Eddings v. Oklahoma
V. Concluding Observations
Chapter 8 - Narrative Time: A Brief Exploration
I. Introduction
II. The Ordering of Discourse Time
III. Concluding Observations
Chapter 9 - Final Observations: Beginnings and Endings


Philip N. Meyer is Professor of Law at Vermont Law School.