Book Review: LAWYERS, LIARS, AND THE ART OF STORYTELLING by Jonathan Shaprio

Jonathan Shaprio, an alum of the most distinguished Universities of the world including Harvard University, Oxford University, and the University of California Berkeley School of Law is an eminent former U.S. Attorney. He has written some of the most celebrated television shows like “The Practice,” “Boston Legal,” “Life” and “The Firm.”


In his book “Lawyers, Liars, and the Art of Storytelling” Shapiro excellently analyses the effect and the impact that a well built up story/argument has on the Judge or for that matter on any layman. He makes compelling arguments in his book that in the legal profession storytelling is one of the prime factors of winning a case. A lawyer who masters this art often beats the lawyer who does not. The book servesas a guiding light and lays down points of advice that a lawyer must follow to strengthen this art of storytelling to succeed and win.


The author Jonathan Shaprio illustrates some of his cases and courtroom incidents to demonstrate how to best tell a story. It is a swift and enjoyable read coupled with funny situations that the author witnessed in his life as an attorney and also as a producer. There are many lessons that lawyers can extract from this engaging book. The book contains valuable insights buried inside a pleasant humor and jovial approach.

Shaprio passes on complex ideas in basic, coordinate terms, and doesn't heap on the verbiage or employ the uninvolved voice.

The author puts forward Aristotle's three components of the craft of powerful storytelling which he draws his inspiration from:

1) Ethos (urging us to think about components of introduction, character, and validity);

2) Logos (urging us to think about components of rationale and reason); and

3) Pathos (urging us to think about components of feeling).

He emphasizes on the above components and discusses in depth how all these three factors combined can make a legal practitioner invincible in the courtroom.

Shaprio very rightly expresses that Logos or Logic is like the bread and butter of good storytelling as the listener is convinced that your argument makes sense, you know your case and you are not talking out of thin air. Shaprio also includes an incident from the time he served as the Asst. U.S. Attorney when he won a case only because he was successful in presenting a highly credible, logical, and easy flowing narrative. The art of bringing meaning and reason to an incomplete story made things fall in his favor.

The book offers the reader an opportunity to apply his/her mind and extract priceless principles of advice. The stories shared by the author in this book are not dry and boring but fully loaded with suspense, amusement, and humor. The best part about this book is that you can easily relate and identify with the situations.

Lawyers, Liars, and the Art of Storytelling is a completely engaging book that is an essential read for law students, practitioners, and everyone involved or intrigued by the legal profession. As a lawyer, I think any legal advisor who thinks about persuading anybody regarding anything should read this book.


Submitted by,

Shreya Prakash,

B.A.LL.B.,

Amity Law School, Noida.


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