Storytelling--what it is, why it matters, how to do it—is not a metaphor for legal advocacy. It is legal advocacy itself, and it is not limited to jury trials or court appearances: It relates to every aspect of a lawyer’s work.
The practice of law is the business of persuasion, and storytelling is the most effective means of persuading. A credible lawyer capable of telling a well-reasoned story that moves the listener will always beat the lawyer who cannot. But just recognizing the centrality of storytelling to the legal profession is not enough. Lawyers should also study the basic structure and elements that apply to stories, how they work and why, as well as the principles that have guided great storytellers for thousands of years.
Part prescriptive teaching, part memoir, always entertaining and never lecture, Lawyers, Liars, and the Art of Storytelling provides storytelling lessons gleaned from years of trial practice and television writing, wrapped in—what else?—great stories.
Watch the Video Interview with the Author!
Praise for Lawyers, Liars, and the Art of Storytelling
Nobody I know—and I mean nobody—is funnier, smarter, or has a wider breadth of references than my friend Jonathan Shapiro. This book is a bit of a miracle: informative, insightful, poetic, and funny.
—Paul Reiser, comedian, actor, and bestselling author
Jonathan Shapiro’s Lawyers, Liars, and the Art of Storytelling is so intriguing and witty that for a while I was certain that I had written it.”
—Alan Zweibel, original Saturday Night Live writer and Thurber Prize winner for his novel The Other Shulman
Storytelling—the art of connecting with, captivating and persuading one’s listeners—is the key to courtroom success. For the new generation of lawyers raised on texting, tweeting, and e-mailing, the art of old-fashioned storytelling has proven elusive, as those who can truly teach this ancient art form are fast disappearing. Thankfully, here comes Jonathan Shapiro—one of America’s greatest trial lawyers and storytellers—to the rescue.
—Steve Zipperstein, General Counsel, Blackberry
Jonathan Shapiro is a terrific writer: incisive, informative, entertaining, and always engaging.
—Erwin Chemerinsky, U.S. constitutional law and federal civil procedure scholar and current and founding dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law
Lawyers, Liars, and the Art of Storytelling is a masterful book about storytelling by the master himself. Shapiro reveals the rewards of storytelling in the real and fictional legal worlds. Most importantly, he divulges the secrets to being a successful storyteller. It is a fun and interesting read for lawyers and non- lawyers alike.
—Laurie L. Levenson, professor of law and David W. Burcham Chair of Ethical Advocacy, Loyola Law School, California
This is an important read for anyone who appreciates telling or hearing good stories, which should include anyone who cares a fig about the art of human communication. Thinking of this book as simply a “how to” guide for trial lawyers is as misguided as thinking of Norman McLean’s classics as field manuals for anyone who plans to do some firefighting or trout fishing in Montana.
—Ralph Alldredge, president of the California Newspaper Publishers Association and California Magazine Trial Lawyer of the Year
The art of advocacy is the art of taking the truth and fashioning it into a compelling story. No one does this better than Jonathan Shapiro. Shapiro jumps from story to story so quickly that you don’t realize how much you’ve learned until the book ends.
—The Honorable Jeffrey Bleich, U.S. Ambassador to Australia
If Jonathan did not exist, one might have to invent him in order to have this book written correctly.
—from the Foreword by Robert C. Berring, Walter Perry Johnson Professor of Law, Berkeley Law School
About the Author
Jonathan Shapiro is Of Counsel at Kirkland & Ellis for entertainment litigation. He also serves as the Chairman of the California Commission on Government Oversight and Efficiency. A graduate of Harvard University and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, he received his law degree from the University of California Berkeley School of Law while working full-time as a staff writer for The Recorder, San Francisco. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division, Organized Crime & Racketeering Section, Washington D.C., through the Honors Program, and was later appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Central District of California. He served as Attorney General Janet Reno’s Special Assistant for the Congressional hearing into the siege of the Branch Davidian Compound in Waco, Texas.
After being Of Counsel at O’Melveny & Myers, he was appointed Chief of Staff for newly elected California Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante. He wrote for David E. Kelley’s series’ The Practice and Boston Legal, for which he received a Peabody Award and two Humanitas Awards. Shapiro also created, wrote, and was the show-runner for three of his own short-lived series, and wrote for the critically acclaimed NBC show Life, as well as NBC’s The Firm. Shapiro also taught as an adjunct law professor at the USC School of Law, and handled political asylum cases pro bono. He is the founding Director of the Public Counsel Emergency Fund for Torture Victims. He recently won an Emmy at the 2014 National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter’s Emmy Awards for his first short-film, Fair and Free, based on his own script and narrated by Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Shapiro is married to television writer Betsy Borns (Friends, Roseanne, All of Us). They have three children.