Professor Chris Rideout has long been interested in persuasion, and for many years he has included theories of persuasion in an advanced legal writing seminar that he teaches. He always asks his students the same question—“what persuades in the law?”—and after looking at different theories of persuasion, they then develop their own theory of legal persuasion. When he first taught the course, he had in mind rhetorical models of persuasion, starting with Aristotle and Cicero and moving toward more contemporary rhetorical work. Very quickly, however, he had to add narrative models of persuasion, plus a second question—“what is it about narratives that makes them persuasive in the law?” This article discusses briefly each of these persuasive features of narratives, but particularly the psychologically persuasive properties of narratives and their relationship to legal persuasion.
Storytelling, Narrative Rationality, and Legal Persuasion, 14 LEGAL WRITING: J. LEGAL WRITING INST. 53