How lawyers tell their tales. Narrative aspects of lawyer's brief

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Telling stories is not found only in literary work and in conversations, but also in a type of legal text - the lawyer's brief, which is sent by one lawyer to another and concerns the client's case. The lawyer writing the brief narrates the events relevant to the case from the point of view of his client. Two narrative features of such a brief are analysed in terms of their linguistic structure. Firstly, a distinction is made between story and discourse, which may be differentiated by the tense and aspect of the verb, and by the main and subordinate clauses. The second feature is narrative voice, the way the text is written from the point of view of the client. The one-sidedness of the narrative is created by the use of various 'hedging' expressions and, mainly, by the themes of the constituent sentences of the text. The theme - the initial element of the sentence - refers directly to the client and to matters concerned with this side of the case. By this, it is argued, the lawyer emphathises with his client's case.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-481
Number of pages15
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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