I am proud to announce that the leading publication for criminal defense attorneys, NACDL’s “The Champion”, just published an article of mine entitled “Winning at Sentencing With Theories, Themes, and the Creative Demonstration of Truth.”
It’s a deep dive into story technique, where I continue to make my case that in order to be better lawyers, we need to learn from master storytellers.
Here’s the problem — when lawyers start talking about telling a “story”, the skeptics automatically assume we are brewing some fictional concoction of snake oil and frosted turd cupcakes. No way!
Just because I use the language of story to teach lawyers how to be better advocates, does not mean I am steering them into the world of fiction. This is not about “alternative facts”. To the contrary, the stories we tell express deeper universal truths about human beings and the world we inhabit. Stories help us bridge the gap and communicate the intricacies of the human journey in a language that everyone can understand.
I get it. This is the part where you shut down and say, “The truth is, he did it! So what the (insert expletive here) am I supposed to do with that?”
Hey! I know he did it. More importantly they know he did it. Big deal.
“He did it” is the beginning of the story, it is not the end!
Tell me a true story about why he did it – one that makes the decision maker think “Wow, if I were in his shoes, I may have done the same thing.” Tell me a story about why maybe he is guilty, but not nearly as guilty as the government claims. Tell me a story of rehabilitation or redemption, and why he will never ever do anything like it again.
I promise you – you can find one or more of these stories in virtually every case. You gotta dig deep. Build the bonds of trust with your client. Put in the time. Have a great team to help you on your journey. Keep an open mind and, yes, an open heart.
I’m not telling you any of this is easy, but you don’t walk this road to find easy. You walk it to find justice.