Tapping the Human Adaptive Origins of Storytelling by Requiring Legal Writing Students to Read a Novel in Order to Appreciate How Character, Setting, Plot, Theme, and Tone (CSPTT) are as Important as IRAC

25 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2010 Last revised: 11 Apr 2011

Date Written: December 14, 2008

Abstract

The Kite Runner is a simple story of two twelve-year-old boys growing up in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1970. The Kite Runner forms the centerpiece of an advanced legal writing class' most important lecture. However, any good work of fiction provides a vehicle to learn how a non-legal novel used as part of a legal-writing class can stimulate the innate legal writer within each student. The article explores the inadequacies of an Issue, Rule, Analysis or Application, and Conclusion (IRAC) only approach to legal writing and delves into the tradition of a lawyer as a storyteller, particularly in jury trials. The articles then traces back to the biological roots of humans to explain why storytelling is an effective means to organize complex thoughts and ideas and, therefore, is an essential tool to understanding. Then the article explores examples of how to teach storytelling ingredients of persuasive legal writing and how character, setting, plot, theme, and tone can be employed to craft a better brief. This Article introduces a diagram to illustrate the main points of the argument and provides examples of storytelling in action. The article surveys how storytelling in a variety of other contexts acts as a means of persuasion. There is a discussion of the limitations of storytelling in a legal context and finally, the Article concludes that effective, persuasive legal writing should employ storytelling, in addition to IRAC, and that legal-writing instructors should assign a novel as part of their course to make this point.

Keywords: Legal writing, Narrative theory, Literary Darwinism, IRAC, literature and law

Suggested Citation

Rappaport, Bret, Tapping the Human Adaptive Origins of Storytelling by Requiring Legal Writing Students to Read a Novel in Order to Appreciate How Character, Setting, Plot, Theme, and Tone (CSPTT) are as Important as IRAC (December 14, 2008). Thomas M. Cooley Law Review, Vol. 25, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1523517

Bret Rappaport (Contact Author)

Lake Forest College ( email )

555 North Sheridan Road
Lake Forest, IL Illinois 60045
United States
8475972151 (Phone)
60015 (Fax)

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