When I first dabbled in teaching / coaching storytelling, my very first client was capital defense attorney, Don Knight. Directly afterwards, he enthusiastically recommended my workshop to his partner at the time, who needed no convincing. Lisa Moses immediately applied her storytelling skills and got results. She succinctly summarizes what she learned about storytelling for herself and her clients. In her own words:
As a lawyer, we often think of ourselves as advocates, who cite case law and try to make our facts fit the law. However, through the storytelling workshop, I learned that we should be storytellers. The best means to be an effective advocate is to tell the story of our client, of their case, of their life. Shortly after taking the workshop, I did a trial. I approached every aspect of the trial, from voir dire, to opening, to cross examination as another way to tell my client’s story. Not just to point out the good facts and deal with the bad facts, but to incorporate all of those facts into a story. The outcome was great. My client was found not guilty and I felt that the jurors truly understood his story.
In every hearing, Judges are much more interested and engaged if they are hearing a story. Judges are people and just like all people, they want to feel, connect and participate. If they can participate in the story by understanding it, by feeling empowered by it and by engaging in it, they are much more likely to have empathy and kindness.
I utilize the same philosophy in all other aspects of my practice. When I prepare a client to interview with the probation department for a pre-sentence investigation report, I remind them that they need to tell THEIR story. They need to remember that all questions, all discussions should lead them to sharing their story. This helps them to feel less nervous in talking with the probation officer and they are much more effective in their interview. This also helps the client be able to tell their story to the Judge at sentencing.
When I prepare a witness to testify, they are usually worried and nervous. I help them develop their story and remind them that if they are telling their story, then they can’t go wrong! Their answers become more natural and much more effective.
The storytelling workshop changed my practice for the better. It was one of the most important things that I did to help me grow as an attorney. I am eternally grateful for the experience.