Storytelling for Lawyers

Paperback | January 28, 2014

byPhilip N. Meyer

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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 anemotional 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, andG 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, lawstudents, 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 forpracticing attorneys that will help them craft their own legal stories.

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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 anemotional impact on their intended audiences. But w...

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

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:January 28, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195396634

ISBN - 13:9780195396638

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Table of Contents

1. IntroductionI. Lawyers are StorytellersII. Legal Arguments are Stories in DisguiseIII. The Parts of a StoryIV. Movies and Closing Arguments2. Plotting I: The BasicsI. What is Plot?II. Plot Structure in Two Movies3. Plotting II: Plot Structure in a Closing Argument to a Jury in a Complex Torts CaseI. The "Back Story"II. Annotated Excerpts from Spence's Closing Argument on Behalf of Karen SilkwoodIII. Concluding Observations4. Character Lessons: Character, Character Development, and CharacterizationI. 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 RevisitedIV. Techniques of Character Development and Characterization-Excerpts from Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life5. Characters, Character Development, and Characterization in a Closing Argument to a Jury in a Complex Criminal CaseI. The "Back Story"II. Excerpts from the Opening: Act I-"The Setup" and "Confrontation"III. Concluding Observations6. 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 StorytellingI. Back Story: Grading Law School ExaminationsII. Preliminary Note: "Voice" and "Style"III. Voice and Rhythm: "Staying on the Surface"IV. The Use of Scene and Summary: "Showing and Telling"V. Telling in Different VoicesVI. Perspective or Point of ViewVII. Several Functions of Perspective: How Does Perspective (Point of View) Work, and What Work Does it Do?VIII. Concluding Observations7. A Sense of Place: Settings, Descriptions and EnvironmentsI. IntroductionII. Dangerous Territory: Contrasting Settings Evoking Danger and Instability in Joan Didion's "The White Album" and the Judicial Opinion in a Rape CaseIII. 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 CasesIV. 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. OklahomaV. Concluding Observations8. Narrative Time: A Brief ExplorationI. IntroductionII. The Ordering of Discourse TimeIII. Concluding Observations9. Final Observations: Beginnings and Endings