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Metaphor and narrative reassure us that things hang together, providing a sense of coherence to the patterns and paths we employ for perception and expression. In this field guide, I hope to illustrate - with images and stories when possible - how better understanding of metaphor and narrative can guide those engaged in legal rhetoric and persuasion.

The article briefly summarizes cognitive theory relating to metaphor and narrative, provides snapshots of their use in the field, in real-life legal persuasion, and suggests ways to adapt metaphor and narrative to a specific example of legal persuasion. In the field guide section, the article uncovers a few of the metaphorical frames and narrative paths that exist in practice. In the guided exploration, to illustrate the process of excavating and re-shaping persuasive arguments, the article explores the storytelling and framing of the briefs (including the brief of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund) and the majority (Justice Douglas') and dissenting (Justice Harlan's) opinions in Boykin v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring an affirmative showing that a guilty plea was entered knowingly and voluntarily.

Publication Citation

50 Washburn L. Rev. 275 (2011)