“A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 8.53.42 AMStory-telling is virtually the oldest form of communication and in many ways is the most successful. For lawyers, this may be a very needed skill, that they’re none to familiar with.

In “APPLIED LEGAL STORYTELLING, POLITICS, AND FACTUAL REALISM”,(Brian J. Foley, Visiting Associate Professor of Law, Drexel University Earl Mack School of Law), the author recognized the value of creating  “a sustainable dialogue about the application of storytelling elements to the practice and pedagogy of law.” He discusses that, “We are committed to spotlighting the concept of “story” in ways that will directly and tangibly benefit law students (i.e. ‘future lawyers’) and legal practitioners (i.e. ‘former law students’).

I had the pleasure of attending a conference on Applied Legal Storytelling in Portland, Oregon in 2009, and met many associates of Prof. Foley’s who also strongly advocated for storytelling skills to be taught in law schools, right along side Civ Pro, Torts and Con Law.

After all, what is the study of Con Law, but a long series of ‘stories’ with a ‘hero’ and a ‘villain’, seeking a decision from the last vestige of the ‘philosopher-kings’ in America? Indeed, storytelling skills are beneficial to new  trial lawyers, for that is the way most juries experience and then assemble the ‘facts’ of a case.

Some thoughts, inspired by the essay, “What, Why & How Story Matters”, by Thaler Pekar, Consultant:

❖For trial attorneys, stories provide rich insight into complex emotions and situations, and competing, or even seemingly contradictory, values. They bridge the rational and the emotional. And stories provide context, enabling lawyers to create meaning out of complexity and confusion.

❖Narrative elements found in many stories — protagonist, secondary characters, conflict, resolution, theme, situation, setting — usually combine to equal a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Listeners — juries, judges, even opposing counsel — organize complex information into forms of stories they already know with a ‘hero’, a protagonist, an antagonist. —stories with a beginning a middle and an end.

❖When reviewing a large number of stories, the repetition of these elements, and the patterns and connections between them, very often yield insight and deeper meaning. This provides a strong basis for juries and judges to gain insight and meaning from ‘your story’ of a case.

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