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Podcast: Conference explores the art, science of applied legal storytelling

July 15, 2009

Law Campus

Lawyers routinely tell stories in legal documents and the courtroom but conveying clear, compelling stories is as much a science as an art. Organizing facts and details in a way that jurors will understand and remember is critical to a lawyer’s work and the skill of applied storytelling is gaining importance among academics who are teaching future lawyers.

On July 22, Lewis & Clark Law School will welcome 80 legal experts—practitioners, academics and students—from across the United States, United Kingdom, and Singapore to discuss effective storytelling at the conference titled Once Upon A Legal Time: Chapter Two. The conference is being co-hosted with the Legal Writing Institute, the largest organization of legal academics in the world.

“Storytelling as a legal skill is a relatively new concept in our field,” said Steve Johansen, professor of law and conference organizer. “To be effective, lawyers must communicate a lot of complex information and facts through a story line that carefully lays out a clear, accurate picture. We should appreciate that compelling stories aren’t only fictional ones.”

This is the second conference Johansen has organized on applied legal storytelling. Building on the success of his first conference, held in London in 2007, the conference seeks to foster collaboration and dialogue about the skill of storytelling in law and about teaching storytelling and other skills to law students and practitioners.

Among the invited panelists and speakers is Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, author of Convictions: A Prosecutor’s Battles against Mafia Killers, Drug Kingpins, and Enron Thieves. Kroger will discuss his own experience implementing different storytelling techniques as a prosecutor in a wide variety of cases.

In this podcast (mp3), Johansen discusses the convergence of storytelling and the legal profession and why effective storytelling is indeed a science.


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