The Incredible Power of Legal Storytelling

The incredible power of legal storytelling

‘Significant Objects’ was an experiment devised by Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn. The purpose of it was to demonstrate the power of stories. In short, they went on their computer, purchased 200 objects with the criteria of each being $1.25 on average, and spent a total of $129. Then 200 contributing writers wrote short stories for the items, and do you want to know what the experimenters did? 

They sold the items for around $8,000. That’s a 6,395% increase, and that is the power of storytelling! 

Since the beginning of time, we’ve been telling stories, and even if we don’t realize it, we also tend to think, remember, and talk in stories. In business, law firms included, building a strong narrative can be the differentiator between you and the rest. As humans, we are wired to respond to narratives. It is the best way to capture attention, retain information, build relationships, and more. 

There’s some good news to this; lawyers are storytellers too. Storytelling is similar to the legal profession in that both take a position and then find arguments to support that point.

A lawyer must find their winning stories continuously, and it’s possible with the power of legal storytelling. In our first part of ‘Storytelling for Lawyers, we’ve previously covered the more technical side of it. In this continuation, we’d like to help you understand its power more visually. 

 

Lessons in understanding human nature

Lessons in understanding human nature e1647891722368

In Harper Lee’s American literature classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, the fictional attorney Atticus Finch stands quite stern but fair – he represents morality. 

He implements storytelling with empathy by stepping into his client’s shoes. He knows that’s he’s fighting an uphill battle with the court against him, but he valiantly tells the story using Aristotle’s 3 Pillars of Persuasion: 

  1. Logos – (Facts) The proof provided in the persuasive argument.
  2. Ethos – (Character) Atticus’ poise as a fictional lawyer makes us believe he’s credible. Although some might argue this doesn’t matter, it’s quite the contrary. When the body language matches the story, it is even more powerful.
  3. Pathos – (Emotions) Refers to the emotions conveyed. What emotions do you want to stir?

It is no wonder the actor who plays the attorney, Gregory Peck, won an Academy Award for his performance in this movie. He also shot this 9-minute closing argument in one take.  

 

Great acting, camera work, and most of all, a great story

Great acting camera work and most of all a great story e1647892124130

The film “Philadelphia” is based on the true story of an attorney who sued one of the world’s largest law firms for firing him because he had AIDS. This snippet starts with the attorney’s opening statement in the courtroom. Do you want to know what makes Denzel Washington’s character such a great storyteller in this scene? Here are a few things we can learn:

  1. He starts by stating a fact from the get-go. In storytelling, beginning with a hook, a strong opinion, a shocking truth, or anything that catches attention is the key to a powerful intro. 
  2. He then walks the trial judges through the pointers he’s going to elaborate on. In storytelling, this means guiding the readers to the message. 
  3. At last, he eloquently plays into the jury’s emotions by showing them there’s a social lack of understanding of AIDS (in the 90s). 

Take a look at Denzel Washington’s opening statement:

 

Emotional storytelling: the best way to build a connection

Emotional storytelling. The best way to build a connection e1647892224609

In our first part of Storytelling for Lawyers, we talked about how we as humans do not make decisions logically but rather emotionally. This proves that emotional marketing in storytelling fortifies deeper connections with others, and from a sales point of view, it sells. 

Jebaily Law Firm knows how to connect with its audience using the power of emotions. Here’s how they implemented this:

  • The managing partner, George Jebaily, starts by pointing out the pain points his customers face, e.g don’t know the system.
  • Then, they build on trust by stating they’re there to help. 
  • Afterward, they provide the solutions to the pain points. 
  • In the end, the message is tied back to compassion by reinforcing the client isn’t alone and extending a helping hand. 

 

Influence with stories backed up by social proof

Influence with stories e1647892354571 

Without a doubt, testimonials are influential for several reasons. If we’re speaking numbers, they help convert – they bump conversions on sales pages by 34%

On the flip side, your clients also want to see social proof like this. They’re curious to know how others did and what they got out of it. More so, customers trust each other even if they don’t personally know each other. This is the secret behind successful testimonials:

  • The foundation – In stories, there needs to be a conflict to overcome an obstacle. Why did the client seek out your firm? What problems were they facing?
  • The journey – The character goes on a trip to solve the conflict. In this case, the client seeks the firm for solutions. 
  • The end – There are no rules except to have a clear objective in mind. Think back to the main goal of the video. Do you want to build awareness? Trust? 

Jebaily Law Firm also has an excellent example of a client testimonial that follows this structure:

 

Takeaway 

Storytelling is an integral part of your entire legal strategy – from the courtroom to your ads. In a world where we’re constantly bombarded by information, a unique narrative can help you cut through the noise, stand out and most importantly, grab the attention of those that need you and vice versa, those you need. 

If you’re looking to ensure your stories strike a chord with consumers time and time again, it’s possible. Our content experts are here to help.