By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
The "story model" (Hastie, Penrod & Pennington, 1983) for litigation persuasion is appropriately considered gospel at this point. At the same time, there is an art to it. In most courtrooms, I see litigators who are aware of the need to tell a story, but not necessarily versed in the techniques of storytelling. As I've explored from time to time in this blog, beyond laying out the events in temporal sequence, there are some nuances relating to structure, imagery, audience, and point of view. In short, there is a substantial "advanced course" in narrative that effective trial lawyers should study. To make that a little easier, here are our top 10 posts so far on storytelling in trial.
It is now a truism that effective opening statements tell a story. Now that it is, once again, Blagojevic trial season in Chicago, prosecutors are telling a story of a desperate politician's attempt to wring personal fortune out of political opportunity, as the defense waits to tell a competing story of an overzealous prosecutor's efforts to paint simple ineptitude as high crimes. For litigators, it remains true that the narrative structure is, to borrow and clean up a phrase, "freakin' golden," but at the same time, the advice needs to go beyond "tell a story." It can seem like simple advice. After all, we know stories in our daily lives, and we know that they all have a setting, characters, conflict, sequence, and a lesson at the end. but the simplicity of the advice to frame your case as a narrative can be deceptive