Once Upon a Time, Happily Ever After, and in a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Using Narrative to Fill the Cognitive Gap Left by Overreliance on Pure Logic in Appellate Briefs and Motion Memoranda

42 Pages Posted: 5 May 2011  

Jennifer Sheppard

Mercer University School of Law

Date Written: December 30, 2009

Abstract

This article explores the cognitive effects of narrative and concludes that it is a highly effective persuasive tool because stories appeal to our logic and reason, not just to our beliefs and values. The article identifies the elements of an effective story and explores how lawyers can use narrative in appellate briefs and motion memoranda to tell stories not just about the facts of their clients’ cases, but also about the law. Building on these bases, the article establishes that, in order to craft an effective story in a brief or motion memorandum, a lawyer must tell that story in the argument section of the document as well as in the facts section. Finally, the article illustrates its recommendations by examining the stories told by Abe Fortas in the petitioner’s brief in the landmark case Gideon v. Wainright.

Keywords: cognition, cognitive effect, cognitive impact, narrative, narrative reasoning, stock stories, stories, storytelling

Suggested Citation

Sheppard, Jennifer, Once Upon a Time, Happily Ever After, and in a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Using Narrative to Fill the Cognitive Gap Left by Overreliance on Pure Logic in Appellate Briefs and Motion Memoranda (December 30, 2009). Willamette Law Review, Vol. 46, 2009-2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1830543 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1830543

Jennifer Sheppard (Contact Author)

Mercer University School of Law ( email )

1021 Georgia Ave
Macon, GA 31207-0001
United States
478-301-2239 (Phone)

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