Storytelling is an essential skill for lawyers and leaders. The mission of the BYU Legal Storytelling Project is to teach law students the theory and practice of great storytelling.
Lawyers tell stories because the practice of law is a human-centered endeavor. “Lawyers, who are, when all is said and done, professional storytellers, should develop this skill, and . . . those who do develop it will have a decided advantage over those who do not” (Foley and Robbins, Fiction 101 at 465). Storytelling combines the ability to think, organize, write, and speak. As students engage with storytelling through the BYU Legal Storytelling Project, they will practice each of these steps on the journey to becoming effective storytellers.
Three core elements comprise the BYU Legal Storytelling Project: LawReads, Proximate Cause, and LawStories on the Mainstage. LawReads is a book-of-the-semester program meant to initiate deeper reflection on the role of law in human affairs. Proximate Cause allows BYU Law students to practice the skill of short narrative as they share how their law school experience has enabled them to effect social change through “getting proximate” with individuals and communities. LawStories on the Mainstage is an opportunity for law students across the country to meld law, personal experience, and the art of storytelling in the written and oral forms.
To present in LawStories on the Mainstage write a true story about your life and the law. You can focus on one main idea or weave several experiences together into a thematic whole. Remember that your experience does not need to be dramatic to be meaningful: significant events and epiphanies can occur in everyday experiences. Make sure you go beyond merely writing an anecdote, and create a story that has a narrative arc and illustrates growth, change, or a perceptual shift. Being specific and descriptive will help you connect with your readers and listeners, and lend your story authenticity and interest.
Moving into a new year, we are excited to announce our next selections for LawReads. Join us in our journey into the struggle for ratification of the 19th Amendment and opiate addiction across America.
BYU law students are invited to submit entries in the Proximate Cause Instagram contest. How has your law school experience helped you get proximate with people? What is your cause? How has law school helped you get proximate with that cause? A summer experience? A clinic? Volunteer work? Post a photo with a caption (limit 2200 characters) online using #BYULaw and #ProximateCause. (For those not on Instagram, email entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.)