Scriptwriter shares storytelling abilities to advocate, influence, persuade

 The practice of law involves the business of persuasion, and storytelling is one of the most effective means of persuading. A credible lawyer capable of telling a well-reasoned story usually prevails over the lawyer who cannot. But just recognizing the centrality of storytelling to the legal profession is not enough. Lawyers should study the basic structure and elements that apply to stories, how they work and why — as well as the principles that have guided great storytellers for years.


A new book from the American Bar Association, “Lawyers, Liars, and the Art of Storytelling: Using Stories to Advocate, Influence, and Persuade,” explains how to convey legal information in a cogent, persuasive way to the client who needs the help, to opposing counsel and to the decision-maker who has to make the final call. In doing so, the book puts to use the author’s experience as a Hollywood writer by utilizing portions of famous real-life court transcripts and television scripts.

Part prescriptive teaching, part memoir, always entertaining and never lecturing, this resource provides storytelling lessons gleaned from years of trial practice and television writing, wrapped in — what else — great stories.

Based in Los Angeles, author Jonathan Shapiro is of counsel at Kirkland & Ellis for entertainment litigation. He also serves as the chairman of the California Commission on Government Oversight and Efficiency. A graduate of Harvard University, Oxford University — where he was a Rhodes Scholar —and the University of California Berkeley School of Law, he has written for such television shows as “The Practice,” “Boston Legal,” “Life” and “The Firm.” Shapiro recently won an Emmy at the 2014 National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter’s Emmy Awards for his first short-film, “Fair and Free,” based on his own script and narrated by retired Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

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