32 ABA Journal Storytelling articles.

Lawyers are the directors and set designers of their courtroom dramas

Litigation unfolds upon a stage in the theater of the courtroom. And while combative, compulsive and closed litigation stories are constrained and shaped by evidentiary and legal rules and the meticulous presentation of factual evidence, lawyers are nevertheless the producers, directors and set designers of their own theatrical courtroom dramas.

Removing the judicial mask: Judges tell the stories behind their most trying decisions

Being a good judge can be lonely and emotionally excruciating. In the remarkable book Tough Cases, 13 trial judges candidly recount their most difficult cases.

Take a note from how Bob Dylan cleverly retrofits traditional melodies to craft a story

For me, the most important law songs, the ones that are closest to my heart, are often not about lawyers at all but instead about themes of justice and injustice. The most remarkable of these songs are by our two greatest folk poets: Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.

Da Vinci’s code: Lawyers can draw valuable lessons from Walter Isaacson’s ‘Leonardo da Vinci’

With winter’s chill now in full force, I recall sitting in a beach chair in late August on a spit of sand on the rocky Maine coast reading Walter Isaacson’s…

For Jerome Bruner, the law was made of stories

Jerome Bruner, who died in 2016 at the age of 100, was one of most influential psychologists and interdisciplinary thinkers of the 20th century. Late in his career, Bruner became fascinated with the law. Trial lawyers employ the power of storytelling to, in Bruner’s words, go beyond the information given.

‘Springsteen on Broadway’ gives lawyers 3 storytelling lessons

Bruce Springsteen pares his 500-page autobiography and more than 50 years of songs into three acts with a clear narrative arc.

Eloquent silence teaches lawyers about power of the pause

An appellate prosecutor and a president show how precise timing and use of prolonged silences can enhance presentations and give arguments greater impact.

‘Just Mercy’ author Bryan Stevenson tells stories to change the world

Civil rights attorney, writer and law professor Bryan Stevenson, author of the best-selling Just Mercy, employs well-told stories to reveal the plight of people trapped in the criminal justice system.

Evoking jurors’ sympathetic imagination is key for lawyer storytellers

Stories—in books and in life—are the ax that cracks open the frozen sea inside us.

How serendipity, ‘Star Wars,’ Sunstein and constitutional law intersect

Justice requires great artistry. The narrative arc of our constitutional law saga is full of surprise, mystery and plot reversals.

Discover valuable information through interrogatories before deposition notice

Interrogatories ferret out the facts of an opponent’s case before giving notice about taking a deposition.

Alas, Poor Atticus! Trials are supposed to be all about winning

The storylines that capture the popular imagination these days, at least in politics and commercial movies, assuage our losses and momentarily fill our neediness with, at least, the promise of victorious outcomes.

Alternative facts and the law: Is justice a reality?

I tell students in my first-year classes the practice of law anticipates the interaction between law and facts; legal doctrine matters only as applied to “the facts.” If we exist exclusively in a hall of mirrors where there are no actual facts but only alternative facts, then there may be judgment but not justice.

Many students find my perspective naive. One of my students put it this way: “As a general rule, the justice system seems to favor the ‘knowable’ version of the truth. Lawyers tend to believe the opposite.”

As most-cited songwriter, Bob Dylan brings complex poetry to court opinions

Bob Dylan is, by far, the most-cited songwriter or popular artist in American judicial opinions. And these citations are not merely add-ons or throwaways.

Use subtext to guide jurors to recognize what a trial is really all about

Trial lawyers, like literary artists, know how to pose the right questions. They construct the staging, especially in courtroom scenes, that directs their audience—jurors and judges, and sometimes the public—toward intended readings of dramatic subtext.

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