Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Lawyers, Liars by Jonathan Shapiro

I recently read Lawyers, Liars, and the Art of Storytelling by Jonathan Shapiro. I may do a more thorough review soon but, in the meantime, I wanted to share some of my favorite food-for-thought from this funny, breezy, yet somehow substantive book about the importance of storytelling in the law.

On timing: "For lawyers and writers, why and when someone chooses to say something are as important as what they actually say. Story choice, timing, and representation matter as much as content." And while the storyteller is "in charge," for the story to work, the conversation "can't be one-sided." 

On using what you're given: "Unlike writers, lawyers are more limited by the story elements they are given. We cannot make things up out of thin air; we must win with what we have....The materials in the box are the case facts and the law, along with anything else fate has provided. If you can use the materials to build a persuasive story, you can save [your client]. It depends on your intelligence and creativity. Whether the resolution is happy or sad depends on how well you do your job. Begin by knowing what is in the box." 

On "the truth": "There is a difference between television truth and legal truth. But they have one thing in common. Neither is the actual truth."

On editing: "Having written their script, lawyers should edit their stories with the same amount of thought and planning. That often means rewriting the script to reflect additional information, better material, or new ideas. It means being flexible, taking advice, changing things to make the story better. In short, editing requires the exact skill and temperament most writers and lawyers don't have."

On logos: "Not everything in law or life is logical."

Lawyers, Liars is currently available only in hardback, but the paperback version will be released in February 2016. 


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