Vignettes from a Narrative Primer
Legal Writing, Vol. 12, p. 229, 2006
55 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2011
This paper provides excerpts from a narrative primer intended to enable legal writing professors to better provide law students with the narrative storytelling tools to be more effective practitioners. The paper rests on the proposition that attorneys, especially litigation attorneys, work in what is largely a storytelling or narrative culture. Legal arguments are, perhaps, best understood as disguised and translated stories. Even arguments whose structure is seemingly more formal and legalistic (as in appellate briefs or the judicial rhetoric of a United States Supreme Court opinion) may be best understood as narrative story.
Assuming this, how might legal writing professors better provide law students with narrative storytelling tools? How might we supplement the clinician’s view that it is crucial for an attorney to tell a good story? What might be the content of these narrative lessons? What sources might we recommend to our students as instructional models? This Essay provides some preliminary responses to these questions, presented as brief sections from a text-in-progress. These excerpts from a narrative primer are intended to initiate a discussion of this fascinating topic and the possibilities of a new writing and skills pedagogy to enhance advocacy training, rather than to formulate an agenda or provide a complete text.
Keywords: narrative, legal writing, litigation, storytelling, pedagogy, advocacy
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