The Power of Storytelling in Legal Writing, Transactional Lawyering, and Cross-Examinations

James D. Smith
Conley Wouters
Christopher W. Arledge
Benjamin R. Gold
James D. Smith | Osborn Maledon, P.A.
Conley Wouters | University of Illinois Chicago
Christopher W. Arledge | Ellis George LLP
Benjamin R. Gold | Lawyer Stories

Live Video-Broadcast: June 28, 2024

The Power of Storytelling in Legal Writing, Transactional Lawyering, and Cross-Examinations

$295.00 3.5 hour CLE

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Program Summary

Session I - Storytelling in Effective Legal Writing – James Smith

Like all persuasive writing, legal writing should engage readers. But it often gets bogged down with dense and boring recitations. Instead of taking the reader on a journey, the motion or brief just recites data in dry tones and fills the legal argument with string citations to cases. Lawyers can’t write fiction for the court, but they can write stories using their evidence and the law. Good storytelling in legal writing is almost as much about what to exclude, too. Good editors make great writers, including legal writers trying to tell stories. And briefs that use storytelling capture judges’ attention—particularly overworked judges who don’t have law clerks.

Key topics to be discussed:

  • How to approach legal writing as storytelling
  • Effective storytelling techniques lawyers use
  • Tools beyond language to help storytelling
  • Common legal writing techniques that make for bad storytelling

Session II - The Power of Storytelling in Persuasive Advocacy and Transactional Lawyering – Conley Wouters

Over the last two decades, experts have devoted more attention to the role of storytelling in successful advocacy. This presentation draws on the recent work of practitioners, academics, and legal writing experts to demonstrate why lawyers need to understand storytelling techniques to serve their clients successfully. Among other topics, the CLE will cover recent research in cognitive psychology suggesting that storytelling is an essential element of persuasion, how lawyers can use key components of narrative (e.g., plot, character, theme, setting) to effectively advance their arguments, and the role of stories in transactional lawyering. In line with recent trends in the field of legal storytelling, the focus will be on pragmatic techniques that apply across practice areas.

Key topics to be discussed:

  • Recent cognitive research that explains how stories persuade audiences
  • Using storytelling and narrative to improve written and oral advocacy
  • The role of storytelling in transactional lawyering

Session III - The Power of Storytelling in Cross-Examination – Christopher W. Arledge

All trial lawyers know the importance of effective storytelling. But seldom do trial lawyers even attempt to tell compelling stories on cross examination. Chris Arledge will explain why he believes this is a mistake and why storytelling-based cross is an effective means of avoiding the two most common mistakes on cross examination: (1) attempting a cross that is not realistically possible with the witness; and (2) cross examinations that fall flat because the useful fact(s) makes no impact on the jury.

He will also provide practical guidance on how to build a storytelling-based cross examination, including how to use all of the necessary elements (thesis, target, context setting, plot, and reveal).

Key topics to be discussed:

  • The importance of storytelling in cross examination
  • Avoiding common cross examination mistakes
  • Building a storytelling-based cross examination
  • Essential elements of storytelling in cross examination

Session IV – Sharing Your Personal Story with Clients, Colleagues, and Your Network – Benjamin Gold

Have you ever shared your personal journey? In this session we will explore the benefits of exploring your personal story to connect with your network, beyond awards, accolades, and resume. Connect on a different level with clients and colleagues.

Key topics to be discussed:

  • Sharing personal journeys
  • Connecting beyond professional achievements
  • Building deeper connections
  • Exploring personal stories for networking

This course is co-sponsored with myLawCLE.

Date / Time: June 28, 2024

  • 10:00 am – 2:00 pm Eastern
  • 9:00 am – 1:00 pm Central
  • 8:00 am – 12:00 pm Mountain
  • 7:00 am – 11:00 am Pacific

Closed-captioning available

Speakers

James D. Smith_FedBarJames D. Smith | Osborn Maledon, P.A.

James is a member at Osborn Maledon, P.A. in Phoenix, Arizona, who focuses on commercial litigation, election litigation, and alternative dispute resolution. Before joining the firm, James was a judge for more than seven years on the Arizona Superior Court in Maricopa County (the fourth most populous county in the country). He presided over hundreds of jury trials, bench trials, evidentiary hearings, and oral arguments. Before his judicial appointment, James was a partner in an international law firm and specialized in consumer-facing class action defense plus commercial litigation. He appeared in federal and state trial and appellate courts, and handled arbitration disputes, throughout the country. James is a member of the State Bar of Arizona Civil Jury Instructions Committee and formerly served on the Civil Practice and Procedure Committee.

 

Conley Wouters_FedBarConley Wouters | University of Illinois Chicago

Conley Wouters is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law, where he teaches Lawyering Skills, Contracts, and other courses. Previously, he taught legal writing at Suffolk University Law School and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, and courses in composition and American literature at Brandeis University. Conley’s current research interests include legal storytelling and Animal Law. His scholarship has been published or is forthcoming in Studies in the Novel, Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing, and the Northeastern University Law Review. Before moving to legal academia, Conley practiced commercial litigation in Los Angeles and Chicago. Today, he maintains an active pro bono practice with a focus on Animal Law, and in 2023, he received the Compassionate Counsel Award from the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Conley holds a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Brandeis University, and a J.D. from Cornell Law School.

 

Christopher W. Arledge_FedBarChristopher W. Arledge | Ellis George LLP

Chris Arledge is a Partner at Ellis George LLP and the creator and director of Ellis George’s Trial Academy. He has been trying intellectual property and other complex business disputes for more than twenty years.

Chris has landed multimillion-dollar verdicts for plaintiffs in a wide range of cases involving patents, trademarks, licensing agreements, and other commercial disputes, as well as defense verdicts for defendants.

One (now-retired) federal judge described Chris’s closing argument as “one of the best closing arguments [he has] seen in 40 years.”

A Superior Court judge declared that Chris’s “cross examination of the plaintiff was the most riveting examination [he’s] seen in any trial … exquisite work.”

Another Superior Court judge said Chris’s cross examinations in a two-month jury trial were “as good as anything I’ve ever seen. Your ability to keep control of the witness while also telling a story was something I don’t think I’ve seen anybody else do. If I were still practicing, I would go to one of your classes or read your book.”

Chris is an experienced and successful advocacy instructor. He is the co-author of the book To Prove, To Please, To Move: Timeless Principles of Legal Advocacy. Chris has taught trial advocacy and deposition skills around the world, including programs at some of the largest, most-prestigious law firms in the country. Chris is also a member of the faculty for the Advanced Advocacy Course for Barristers in Dublin, Ireland and for the Advanced International Advocacy Course at Oxford University in England. Chris has also taught the “Art of Persuasion for Lawyers” and “Taking and Defending Depositions” courses at Chapman University School of Law.

After years on the faculty for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, Chris has developed his own trial-training program that he offers to bar associations, law firms, Inns of Court, and law schools. His program is a performance-based program where students learn to try cases by performing actual witness examinations, opening statements, and closing arguments. What separates Chris’ program from other successful trial-training programs is the emphasis on using effective storytelling in all aspects of trial and a focus on creating and protecting the advocate’s credibility.

Chris’s articles on persuasion and trial advocacy have appeared in the ABA Journal, Law360, California Lawyer, OC Lawyer, and the Daily Journal, and Chris was profiled on Law360’s “Trial Pros” series.

After graduating from law school at the University of Southern California, Chris clerked for the Honorable Charles Wiggins on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and spent three years as an associate at O’Melveny & Myers before co-founding the law firm One LLP in Southern California. After 19 years at One LLP, Chris joined the partnership at Ellis George LLP.

 

Benjamin R. Gold_FedBarBenjamin R. Gold | Lawyer Stories

Benjamin Gold is a 2002 graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a 2006 graduate of Roger Williams University School of Law. Ben is licensed to practice law in Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts and is the Executive Director of the North Central Massachusetts Housing Authorities. He is also the founder of Lawyer Stories, which he launched in July 2017. Lawyer Stories has evolved from a small series of posts on Instagram into a global network of diverse lawyers and law students connecting and sharing their stories. It is a community dedicated to featuring lawyers and law students’ narratives regarding their personal challenges, inspirations, and motivations before and during their journeys to enter the legal profession. Lawyer Stories can be found on Instagram @lawyer_stories and on Facebook.Com/Lawyerstories. As of today, there are approximately 56k followers on Instagram and over 9k followers on Facebook. Lawyer Stories launched a podcast in February 2020; The Lawyer Stories Podcast with Benny Gold can be seen on YouTube and heard on Apple and Spotify amongst other platforms. Lawyer Stories has also hosted networking events in Miami, New York City, and Boston. The website is located at www.thelawyerstories.com.

Agenda

Session I – Storytelling in Effective Legal Writing | 10:00am – 11:00am

  • How to approach legal writing as storytelling
  • Effective storytelling techniques lawyers use
  • Tools beyond language to help storytelling
  • Common legal writing techniques that make for bad storytelling

Break | 11:00am – 11:10am

Session II – The Power of Storytelling in Persuasive Advocacy and Transactional Lawyering | 11:10am – 12:10pm

  • Recent cognitive research that explains how stories persuade audiences
  • Using storytelling and narrative to improve written and oral advocacy
  • The role of storytelling in transactional lawyering

Break | 12:10pm – 12:20pm

Session III – The Power of Storytelling in Cross-Examination | 12:20pm – 1:20pm

  • The importance of storytelling in cross examination
  • Avoiding common cross examination mistakes
  • Building a storytelling-based cross examination
  • Essential elements of storytelling in cross examination

Break | 1:20pm – 1:30pm

Session IV – Sharing Your Personal Story with Clients, Colleagues, and Your Network | 1:30pm – 2:00pm

  • Sharing personal journeys
  • Connecting beyond professional achievements
  • Building deeper connections
  • Exploring personal stories for networking