D. Classical rhetoric and large-scale organization in persuasive legal writing
Another basic tenet of classical rhetoric is the concept of dispositio, or the effective arrangement or organization of the material to be presented by an advocate to an audience.1 The following works explore the relationship (and the compelling overlap) between the ancient concept of dispositio and the organization of modern court briefs.
- Michael H. Frost, Brief Rhetoric: The Organization of Argument, in Introduction to Classical Legal Rhetoric: A Lost Heritage 44 (Ashgate Publg. Ltd. 2005).
- Michael Frost, Brief Rhetoric—A Note on Classical and Modern Theories of Forensic Discourse, 38 U. Kan. L. Rev. 411 (1990).
E. Rhetorical figures of speech in persuasive legal writing
In addition to analyzing substantive modes of persuasion and how best to organize that substance, classical rhetoricians also explored in detail how writing or speaking style can impact the persuasiveness of an argument. Although classical rhetoricians did study many basic topics of style such as grammar, diction, and sentence structure, they also spent a great deal of time and energy dissecting the most mysterious and elusive component of style, eloquence. In studying what makes eloquent language eloquent, classical rhetoricians have identified and analyzed over 200 "figures of speech."2 A figure of speech is a linguistic device that achieves eloquence by intentionally deviating from the normal or literal use of language. Many of these figures of speech—such as metaphor, personification, and alliteration—are fairly well known by most people. Others, however—such as polysyndeton and antimetibole—are more obscure. Nonetheless, classical rhetoricians' materials on figures of speech offer a treasure trove of information for those who wish to systematically study the art of eloquent style. Not surprisingly, many modern legal writing scholars have been drawn to the classical rhetoricians' materials on figures of speech and have adapted and applied them to modern legal advocacy.
1. Rhetorical figures of speech in persuasive legal writing generally
The works listed below offer introductory information about rhetorical figures of speech and their use in contemporary persuasive legal writing.
- Anne Enquist & Laurel Currie Oates, Eloquence, in Just Writing: Grammar, Punctuation, and Style for the Legal Writer 159 (2d ed., Aspen Publishers 2005).
- Bryan A. Garner, Rhetorical Figures in Law, in The Elements of Legal Style 149 (2d ed., Oxford U. Press 2002).
- Thomas R. Haggard, Rhetoric in Legal Writing—Part I, 8–June S.C. Law. 13 (1997).
- Thomas R. Haggard, Rhetoric in Legal Writing—Part II, 9–Aug. S.C. Law. 13 (1997).
- Thomas R. Haggard, Rhetoric in Legal Writing—Part III, 9–Oct. S.C. Law. 13 (1997).
- Susan McCloskey, Rhetoric is Part of the Lawyer's Craft, 74–Dec. N.Y. St. B.J. 8 (2002).
- Richard A. Posner, Judicial Opinions as Literature, in Law and Literature 255 (Harv. U. Press 1998).
- Jane N. Richmond, Writing with Flair, in Legal Writing: Form & Function 117 (NITA 2002).
- Michael R. Smith, Beyond Metaphor and Simile: The Use of Other Figures of Speech in Persuasive Writing, in Advanced Legal Writing: Theories and Strategies in Persuasive Writing 223 (Aspen L. & Bus. 2002).
- Craig D. Tindall, Rhetorical Style, 50 Jun. Fed. Law. 24 (2003).
- Henry Weihofen, A Touch of Eloquence, in Legal Writing Style 310 (2d ed., West Publg. Co. 1980).
2. Metaphor in persuasive legal writing
The works listed in the prior section address rhetorical figures of speech as a group generally. Some individual figures of speech, however, have attracted significant attention unto themselves. One such figure of speech is the metaphor. Without a doubt, metaphor has been the most popular figure to be singled out for detailed examination. This was true for ancient rhetoricians, and this is true for their modern counterparts. Below is a list of works that explore the many wonders of metaphor in the context of modern legal writing and advocacy.
- Jim Accardi, Winning Closing Arguments With Narrative Metaphor, 33–Dec. Prosecutor 38 (1999).
- Maureen Archer & Ronnie Cohen, Sidelined on the (Judicial) Bench: Sports Metaphors in Judicial Opinions, 35 Am. Bus. L.J. 225 (1998).
- Linda L. Berger, What is the Sound of a Corporation Speaking? How the Cognitive Theory of Metaphor Can Help Lawyers Shape the Law, 2 J. ALWD 169 (2004).
- Haig Bosmajian, Metaphor and Reason in Judicial Opinions (S. Ill. U. Press 1992).
- Michael H. Frost, Greco-Roman Analysis of Metaphoric Reasoning, in Introduction to Classical Legal Rhetoric: A Lost Heritage 85 (Ashgate Publg. Ltd. 2005).
- Michael Frost, Greco-Roman Analysis of Metaphoric Reasoning, 2 Leg. Writing 113 (1996).
- Bryan A. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage 558 (Metaphors) (2d ed., Oxford U. Press 1995).
- Bernard J. Hibbitts, Making Sense of Metaphors: Visuality, Aurality, and the Reconfiguration of American Legal Discourse, 16 Cardozo L. Rev. 229 (1994).
- Chad M. Oldfather, The Hidden Ball: A Substantive Critique of Baseball Metaphors in Judicial Opinions, 27 Conn. L. Rev. 17 (1994).
- Thomas Ross, Metaphor and Paradox, 23 Ga. L. Rev. 1053 (1989).
- Michael R. Smith, The Power of Metaphor and Simile in Persuasive Writing, in Advanced Legal Writing: Theories and Strategies in Persuasive Writing 179 (Aspen L. & Bus. 2002).
- Elizabeth G. Thornburg, Metaphors Matter: How Images of Battle, Sports, and Sex Shape the Adversary System, 10 Wis. Women's L.J. 225 (1995).
- Steven L. Winter, Transcendental Nonsense, Metaphoric Reasoning, and the Cognitive Stakes for Law, 137 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1105 (1989).
- Michael J. Yelnosky, If You Write It, (S)he Will Come: Judicial Opinions, Metaphors, Baseball, and "The Sex Stuff," 28 Conn. L. Rev. 813 (1996).
3. Literary and historical allusion in persuasive legal writing
Another specific figure of speech that has attracted some individual attention by legal writing scholars is literary (and historical) allusion. The following is a list of recent works on this topic.
- William Domnarski, Shakespeare in the Law, 67 Conn. B.J. 317 (1993).
- Bryan A. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage 531 (Literary Allusion) (2d ed., Oxford U. Press 1995).
- Jane N. Richmond, Literary and Historical References, in Legal Writing: Form & Function 130 (NITA 2002).
- Michael R. Smith, The Functions of Literary References in Persuasive Writing: A Multi-Disciplinary Analysis, in Advanced Legal Writing: Theories and Strategies in Persuasive Writing 9 (Aspen L. & Bus. 2002).
- Lis Wiehl, Judges and Lawyers Are Not Singing From the Same Hymnal When It Comes to Allowing the Bible in the Courtroom, 24 Am. J. Tr. Advoc. 273 (2000).
- Charles Alan Wright, Literary Allusion in Legal Writing: The Haynsworth-Wright Letters, 1 Scribes J. Leg. Writing 1 (1990).
4. Other specific figures of speech in persuasive legal writing
Below is a list of other works that explore individual figures of speech and their relevance to contemporary legal writing. The citation to each work identifies the specific figure of speech the work addresses.
- Michael H. Frost, Greco-Roman Elements of Forensic Style, in Introduction to Classical Legal Rhetoric: A Lost Heritage 109 (Ashgate Publg. Ltd. 2005) (discussing the rhetorical stylistic devices of antithesis and parallelism).
- Bryan A. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage 44 (Alliteration) (2d ed., Oxford U. Press 1995).
- Bryan A. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage 468 (Irony) (2d ed., Oxford U. Press 1995).
- Bryan A. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage 718 (Puns) (2d ed., Oxford U. Press 1995).
- Bryan A. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage 808 (Similes) (2d ed., Oxford U. Press 1995).
- Judith A. Harris, Recognizing Legal Tropes: Metonymy as Manipulative Mode, 34 Am. U. L. Rev. 1215 (1985) (analyzing the use of the rhetorical device—metonymy—in legal discourse).
- Karen Larsen, Say It Again, 60–Apr. Or. St. B. Bull. 39 (2000) (discussing rhetorical forms of repetition).
- David M. Zlotnick, The Buddha's Parable and Legal Rhetoric, 58 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 957 (2001) (analyzing the use of parables in legal scholarship).
1 Edward P. J. Corbett & Robert J. Connors, Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student 20 (4th ed., Oxford U. Press 1999).
2 Id. at 378.