Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Vermont Law School--New England Consortium of Legal Writing Teachers

After a warm welcome on a lovely, wintry Vermont morning, conference participants had a choice of concurrent sessions.  The session I attended was "Narrative Persuasion" with Phil Meyer (Vermont Law School), Sophie Sparrow (Franklin Pierce), and Kathleen Mangold-Spoto (Franklin Pierce). 

Professor Mangold-Spoto discussed creating mini-stories from facts and inferences, as well as using a number of real-life articles and briefs that illustrate the effective use of facts by both parties to tell their own versions of the story.  Participants then discussed Maslow's hierarchy of needs to identify where an emotional appeal is based, as well as using product advertisements in carying magazines to demonstrate shaping the emotional appeal to meet the needs of a particular audience.

Professor Meyer discussed analytical form and storytelling, including features such as plotting, what constitutes a complete story, types of stories, showing versus telling, and rhythm. 

Professor Sparrow discussed a simple visual equation to illustrate the components of story, as well as how to effectively use concrete facts. 

Other ideas included using language in a brief similar to that used by the jusge who would be reading the brief (e.g., use kinesthetic language for a kinesthetic judge and big words for a judge who uses big words); giving students a picture and asking them to create the story to go with it, then using their different stories to discuss how life experience shapes the stories we recognize and tell; and alternating between scene and summary in telling a story.


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