Legal Persuasion: A Rhetorical Approach to the Science, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Legal Persuasion

A Rhetorical Approach to the Science, 1st Edition

By Linda L. Berger, Kathryn M. Stanchi


170 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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This book develops a central theme: legal persuasion results from making and breaking mental connections. This concept of making connections inspired the authors to take a rhetorical approach to the science of legal persuasion. That singular approach resulted in the integration of research from cognitive science with classical and contemporary rhetorical theory, and the application of these two disciplines to the real-life practice of persuasion. The combination of rhetorical analysis and cognitive science yields a new way of seeing and understanding legal persuasion, one that promises theoretical and practical gains. The work has three main functions. First, it brings together the leading models of persuasion from cognitive science and rhetorical theory, blurring boundaries and leveraging connections between the often-separate spheres of science and rhetoric. Second, it illustrates this persuasive synthesis by working through concrete examples of persuasion, demonstrating how to apply this new approach to the taking apart and the putting together of effective legal arguments. In this way, the book demonstrates the advantages of a deeper and more nuanced understanding of persuasion. Third, the volume assesses and explains why, how, and when certain persuasive methods and techniques are more effective than others. The book is designed to appeal to scholars in law, rhetoric, persuasion science, and psychology; to students learning the practice of law; and to judges and practicing lawyers who engage in persuasion.


"The book's greatest strength lies in its stimulating and provocative examples. Readers are treated to a host of insights from cognitive science, culture high and low, the rough-and-tumble world of litigation, and the lofty perches of appellate advocacy and judging."

Ross Guberman, Author, Point Made: How to Write Like the Nation's Top Advocates and President, Legal Writing Pro

"Professors Berger and Stanchi have combined their respective interests in rhetorical theory and cognitive science to produce an extremely engaging book about legal persuasion. This volume will be immensely helpful to advocates, but it also provides scholars with concrete examples that illuminate and advance deep insights."

Francis J. Mootz III, Dean and Professor of Law, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, USA

"Every law student, law teacher, attorney, judge, and – dare I say politician? – should read Berger and Stanchi’s brilliant new synthesis of rhetorical theory and cognitive science. Both accessible and sophisticated, its clear succinct explanations and examples will help you think more clearly, advocate more effectively, and decide more wisely."

Kate O’Neill, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington School of Law, USA

'Two powerhouse legal scholars connect their expertise in cognitive science and rhetoric to reveal deep insights into effective persuasion. Filled with examples and case studies from recent and familiar judicial decisions, the book makes complex concepts accessible to students, judges, and lawyers.'

Suzanne Rowe, James L. and llene R. Hershner Professor, University of Oregon School of Law, USA

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

Chapter 1: Making Connections

Chapter 2: Thinking and Decision Making: Starting to Persuade

II. Setting: Audience, Timing, and Location

Chapter 3: The Judicial Audience

Chapter 4: Kairos: Fitting Time and Place

III. Invention: Stories, Metaphors, Analogies

Chapter 5: Uncover Embedded Plots, Characters, and Images

Chapter 6: Introduction to Storytelling

Chapter 7: Telling Fact Stories Differently

Chapter 8: Developing Law Stories

Chapter 9: Making Intuitive Connections

Chapter 10: Shape Connections: Familiar Analogies and Metaphors

Chapter 11: Reinforce Favorable Connections: Arguing by Analogy

Chapter 12: Break Unfavorable Connections: Novel Metaphors

IV. Arrangement: Organization and Connection

Chapter 13: Introduction to Priming: Story and Emotion

Chapter 14: Priming Interpretations and Impressions

Chapter 15: Introduction to Syllogistic Frameworks

Chapter 16: Syllogistic and Analogical Case Arguments

V. Connecting through Tone

Chapter 17: Structuring Arguments to Appear Reasonable

Chapter 18: Volunteering Adverse Information

Chapter 19: The Trap of Attack

VI. Conclusion

Chapter 20: Putting It Together

About the Authors

Linda Berger is the Family Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law. Professor Berger has been a leader in building the discipline of legal writing. Her recent scholarly work blends interdisciplinary study with rhetorical analysis, drawing on research findings from analogy, metaphor, and narrative studies in order to examine the persuasiveness and effectiveness of written and oral communication.

Kathryn M. Stanchi is the Jack E. Feinberg ’57 Professor of Litigation and Affiliated Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Temple University Beasley School of Law. She is recognized as the leading scholar to bring persuasion science into the literature of legal persuasion. Her scholarship often focuses on the intersection of persuasion, rhetoric and feminism. She has published and lectured extensively on this and related topics.

About the Series

Law, Language and Communication

Law, Language and Communication

This series encourages innovative and integrated perspectives within and across the boundaries of law, language and communication, with particular emphasis on issues of communication in specialized socio-legal and professional contexts. It seeks to bring together a range of diverse yet cumulative research traditions related to these fields in order to identify and encourage interdisciplinary research. The series welcomes proposals - both edited collections as well as single authored monographs - emphasizing critical approaches to law, language and communication, identifying and discussing issues, proposing solutions to problems, offering analyses in areas such as legal construction, interpretation, translation and de-codification.

Anne Wagner is Professor of Legal Semiotics and Research Professor at Centre de Recherche Droits & Perspectives du Droit, équipe René Demogue, Lille University, France. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law (Springer) and President of the International Roundtables for the Semiotics of Law. She has been awarded the National Research Grant for her research career. Her main research interests include semiotics, verbal and non-verbal sign system analyses, language and law, legal culture and heritage, legal translation, legal terminology, and legal discourse studies.

Vijay K. Bhatia, formerly Professor of English, City University of Hong Kong, is now Adjunct Professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Visiting Professor at the Hellenic American University, Athens (Greece). He is also the founding President of the Languages for Specific Purposes and Professional Communication Association for Asia-Pacific. His research interests include Critical Genre Analysis, academic and professional discourses in legal, business, newspaper, and promotional contexts; ESP and Professional Communication; simplification of legal and other public documents; intercultural and cross-disciplinary variations in professional genres.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General