When taught to draft a statement of facts or a statement of the case, law students and new lawyers are often told to “tell a story” and that chronological order is usually the best organizational strategy to use when telling that story. While much has been written in recent years on how to draft a story in the legal context, little scholarship is devoted to how to draft a story using chronology or how a lawyer can shape and manipulate time within a story to better advocate for a client. Legal scholars seem to think that the use of chronology is not only the default organizational strategy but requires no greater thought than depicting in which order the events transpired. But any good legal storyteller knows that there is much more to the depiction of time in stories than that. The depiction of time in all but the simplest of stories is extremely complex—there is seldom a pure linear chronology available. And if there is, it is not always the most persuasive manner in which to present the story. Legal storytellers must determine, inter alia, where to begin the story, where to end the story, whether to use chronology to organize the events in the story or to deviate from chronological order, when to summarize facts to deemphasize them, and when to use detail to emphasize facts. They construct time within the story to satisfy the demands of the narrative they are telling and in a way that often appears as if it is presented in a linear chronological order. Depending on the legal storyteller’s choices, he or she can tell a very different story.
“All We Have to Decide is What to Do with the Time Given to Us”: Using Concepts of Narrative Time to Draft More Persuasive Legal Arguments,
106 Marq. L. Rev. 831
Available at: https://scholarship.law.marquette.edu/mulr/vol106/iss4/5