Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1996

Abstract

The dialogue over the role of narrative in the making and interpreting of law and in legal practice is often stalemated by a failure to appreciate the complex and sometimes subtle relationship between narrative and other forms of legal reasoning. Does narrative theory regard narrative and rules as polar opposites? Does it assert that judges create law simply by picking the story that most appeals to that particular judge, without measuring it against an articulated standard? Does it assert that lawyers can win cases by presenting a sympathetic story, without regard for the governing rule of law? If so, the notion is unsettling in the extreme, and it is no wonder that conversations about narrative and law are so difficult.

This article explores the relationship between narrative and other forms of legal reasoning. It first examines the role of narrative in law and creation — in how judges decide questions of law. What is the jurisprudential relationship between narrative on the one hand and rules, precedents, norms, and policies on the other? Next, the article discusses the role of narrative in legal hermeneutics. How does the theoretical, jurisprudential role of narrative in law creation implicate what practicing lawyers do with rules and how lawyers use rules in a particular case? Finally, the article explores the place of narrative in law study. Where and how, in legal education, should narrative thrive?

Publication Citation

20 Legal Stud. F. 7 (1996).