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This article describes an in-class exercise that illustrates the use of persuasive narrative techniques in a U.S. Supreme Court decision. The article first describes the background to the Supreme Court’s decision in Walker v. City of Birmingham. Next, the article examines persuasive narrative techniques through the lens of an in-class exercise in which students identify the Justices’ narrative devices and consider how those devices preview the Justices’ legal arguments. Finally, the article describes why the Walker case and the exercise are valuable not only to teach persuasive narratives, but also to raise broader issues of lawyering and social justice.


Originally published by the Journal of the Association of Legal Writing Directors in 2004.