Join me this weekend in reading three journal articles about the practice of law. Their titles promise both enlightenment and absence of bone-dry, boredom-inducing content. The first was on the list of "ten papers with the most downloads in the last sixty days, as reported by SSRN's Legal Ethics & Professional Responsibility journal." Thanks to Jeffrey M. Lipshaw at Legal Profession Blog you may see the whole list.
This top-ten article is entitled: Harry Potter, Ruby Slippers and Merlin: Telling the Client's Story using the Characters and Paradigm of the Archetypal Hero's Journey by Ruth Anne Robbins at Rutgers School of Law - Camden. Seattle University Law Review, Vol. 29, No. 4, p. 767, Fall 2006.
This article focuses on the relationship of mythology and folklore heroes to everyday lawyering decisions regarding case theory when the audience is a judge or panel of judges rather than a jury. It proposes the thesis that because people respond - instinctively and intuitively - to certain recurring story patterns and character archetypes, lawyers should systematically and deliberately integrate into their storytelling the larger picture of their clients' goals by subtly portraying their individual clients as heroes on a particular life path. This strategy is not merely a device to make the story more interesting but provides a scaffold to influence the judge at the unconscious level by providing a metaphor for universal themes of struggle and growth.
Download Harry Potter, Ruby Slippers and Merlin.
In e-mail communication with Robbins, she told me of another article she has written with an intriguing title. I added it to my weekend reading list. The article: Fiction 101: A Primer for Lawyers on How to Use Fiction Writing Techniques to Write Persuasive Facts Sections by Robbins and Brian J. Foley. Rutgers Law Journal, Vol. 32, No. 2, p. 459, Winter 2001.
I will round out the weekend reading time with Dressed for Excess: How Hollywood Affects the Professional Behavior of Lawyers by Nancy B. Rapoport at University of Houston Law Center. Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy, Vol. 14, p. 49, 2000
This article discusses two related points: first, that the way in which movies portray lawyers shapes how clients view effective/ineffective lawyer behavior, and second, that the portrayal also helps lawyers to forget appropriate professional behavior.
Download Dressed for Excess.
This weekend is going to be fun. Few activities give me more pleasure than reading about my favorite topics. I do hope some of you will read along with me -- no matter where you are.