Over the Rainbow & Into the Land of Legal Narrative (With Story Expert Matthew David)

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Lawyers are taught that logic is their best friend.  BUT, in the real world, human beings make their most important decisions based on EMOTION, not LOGIC.  So how do you present your facts in a way that taps into the genuine emotions of the decision makers?  Come on people, you know this:  A good, true, & well told story!

Helping us get Set For Sentencing, and joyfully continuing our ongoing conversation on legal narrative, is story expert, Matthew David.  As a screenwriter and Dr. Randy Olson’s right hand man, Matt is deep into the world of narrative.  He knows the “ABT” (AND, BUT, THEREFORE) template like the back of his hand.  Even better, Matt formulated his own expression of the ABT, Dr. Olson now affectionately calls “the Matt Template” which goes like this:  Heaven AND heaven, BUT hell, THEREFORE action!  Now, let’s see how that works in the world of sentencing storytelling (spoiler alert – it works like magic).

This episode is not only entertaining AF, it’s filled with practical advice on how to effectively and powerfully communicate your client’s story to any decision-maker.


  • The “Matt Template” & how it will instantly allow you to begin crafting your compelling case narrative;
  • The “And, But, Therefore” narrative template and examples;
  • The “ordinary world” in the hero’s journey – what and why it is;
  • The two levels of hero’s journey that exist in criminal case narrative;
  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow – the quintessential musical manifestion of “heaven” in narrative structure;
  • What it means to “amplify the pain” and why it is essential you do it in every story;
  • The role of hero and sage in criminal sentencing stories –and how to tell the difference;
  • Why the “hero’s journey”, embodied in the ABT structure, resonates with every human being;
  • Using Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, The Hunger Games, and the Matrix to illustrate all of these points;
  • Our favorite screenwriting and story book recommendations.


Matt’s website http://www.matthewmdavid.com/ 

THE NARRATIVE GYM FOR LAW: Introducing the ABT Framework for Persuasive Advocacy https://a.co/d/iOI4exU

HERO’S JOURNEY VIDEO (what makes a hero?) https://youtu.be/Hhk4N9A0oCA

Park Howell Business of Story Podcast  https://businessofstory.com/storytelling-podcast/

Some of my blogs:

“The 3 Most Important Words in Persuasive Communication” https://setforsentencing.com/blog/the-three-most-important-words-in-persuasive-communication/

“Five Reasons Every Lawyer Should Study the Art of Screenwriting & a Killer List of Resources to Get You Started”  https://setforsentencing.com/articles/5-reasons-every-lawyer-should-study-the-art-of-screenwriting-and-a-killer-resource-list-to-get-you-started/

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