Richard K. Sherwin

Professor of Law
Director, Visual Persuasion Project

Richard K. Sherwin

Richard K. Sherwin is an expert in visual communication, particularly in the domain of visual persuasion in litigation and litigation public relations. He has written widely on the interrelationship between law and culture and on other interdisciplinary topics such as: law and rhetoric, discourse theory, political legitimacy, and the emerging fields of visual legal studies and cultural legal studies. He gained nationwide attention with his well-received book, When Law Goes Pop: The Vanishing Line between Law and Popular Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2000 [2002]) which explores the two-way street between law and popular culture. His most recent book, Visualizing Law in the Age of the Digital Baroque: Arabesques & Entanglements (Routledge 2011), explores the impact of visual communication technologies on the theory and practice of law in the digital age. His edited collections include: Law, Culture & Visual Studies [author of introductory chapter]), two volumes [with Anne Wagner] (Springer 2013); and Popular Culture and Law [author of introduction and chapter] (Ashgate: 2006).

Recent chapters and articles include: “Performer la Loi. Présences et simulacres, sur scène et au tribunal.” [“Law as Performance: Presence and Simulation Inside the Theater/Courtroom”] Revue Communications, Paris, no. (2013); “Visual Jurisprudence,” New York Law School Law Review Symposium Issue on “Visualizing Law in the Digital Age” (Fall 2012) vol. 57/1; “Constitutional Purgatory: Shades and Presences Inside the Courtroom,” in Leif Dahlberg, ed. Visualizing Law and Authority (Walter de Gruyter 2012); “Law’s Life on the Screen,” in Sara Steinert-Borella’s and Caroline Wiedmer’s Intersections of Law and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan Socio-Legal Studies: 2012); “Law’s Screen Life,” in A. Sarat ed. Imagining Legality (Alabama, 2011); “Imagining Law as Film: Representation without Reference?” in Austin Sarat, Matthew Anderson, Catherine Frank eds., Introduction to Law and the Humanities, (Cambridge University Press, 2010); “What Screen Do You Have in Mind? Contesting the Visual Context of Law and Film Studies,” in A. Sarat ed., Studies in Law, Politics, and Society (Elsevier, 2009); “Sublime Jurisprudence: On the Ethical Education of the Legal Imagination in Our Time,” [Vico Symposium], Chicago-Kent Law Review 83:3 (2008); “Law in the Age of Images,” chapter in James Elkins, ed., Visual Literacy (Routledge 2007); “Law, metaphysics, and the new iconoclasm,” in Law Text Culture volume 11, pp. 70 – 105 (Andrew T. Kenyon and Peter D. Rush ed., 2007); “Thinking Beyond the Shown,” (with Neal Feigenson) Law Probability Risk, Volume 6, Number 1-4 (March/December 2007) 295-310 (Oxford University Press); “What is Visual Knowledge, and What is it Good for? Potential Ethnographic Lessons from the Field of Legal Practice,” Visual Anthropology, vol. 20: 1–36, (2007);“A Manifesto for Visual Legal Realism” Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, volume 40, issue 3 (2007).

In 2001, Professor Sherwin debuted Visual Persuasion in the Law, the first course of its kind in the nation to teach students about the role and efficacy (as well as the pitfalls) of using visual evidence and visual advocacy in contemporary legal practice. During the semester, students create, in the context of cutting edge legal controversies, visual exhibits and a closing argument in the form of a short film. Student films are produced in the Law School’s state-of-the-art digital media lab.
In 2005, Professor Sherwin launched the Visual Persuasion Project. This is the first and to date the only website to showcase “best practices” in the visual litigation services field. The site features a broad range of visual products, from 2-D and 3-D animations to accident reenactments, day-in-the-life documentaries, settlement brochures, montages, and other innovative visual products. Users of the Visual Persuasion Web site may choose among four main entry points:
• Visual Litigation and Litigation Service Providers, featuring best practices in visual persuasion inside the courtroom;
• Visual Legal Training, including new law teaching tools and methodologies in real and virtual classrooms;
• Law and Popular Culture, featuring new scholarly approaches to law and pop culture; and
• Recent Media Events, presenting law-related developments in the visual mass media.

The goal of the Visual Persuasion Project is to promote a better understanding of the practice, theory, and teaching of law in the current screen-dominated, pervasively visual, digital era. The Project was formed to study and advance the cultivation of critical visual intelligence, to inspire creative visualizations of evidence, case narratives, policy analysis, and legal argumentation, and to help lawyers, judges, law students, and the lay public integrate new visual tools into more traditional—that is, textual and verbal—approaches to legal analysis.

A frequent public speaker both in the United States and abroad, Professor Sherwin is a regular commentator for television, radio, and print media on the relationship between law, culture, film, and digital media. His appearances include NBC’s Today Show, Court TV, WNET, National Public Radio, RTE Radio 1 (National Public Radio in Ireland) and CKUT (Montreal, Canada).

BOOKS

Visualizing Law in the Age of the Digital Baroque: Arabesques & Entanglements (Routledge: 2011)

Law, Culture & Visual Studies [two volumes] (with Anne Wagner) (Springer: 2012).

Popular Culture and Law. (International Library of Law and Society)(Introductory essay at xi-xxii & Law Frames: Historical Truth and Narrative Necessity in a Criminal Case, Chapter 6 at 177-221)(Darthmouth/Ashgate, 2006)(Editor & contributor).

When Law Goes Pop: The Vanishing Line Between Law and Popular Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2000).

CHAPTERS IN BOOKS

“Constitutional Purgatory: Shades and Presences Inside the Courtroom,” chapter in Law and the Image, edited by Daniela Carpi and Klaus Stierstorfer (De Gruyter, Berlin: 2012)

“Law’s Life on the Screen,” chapter in Intersections of Law and Culture, edited by Sara Steinert-Borella and Caroline Wiedmer (Palgrave Macmillan Socio-Legal Studies: 2012)

“Imagining Law as Film: Representation without Reference?” chapter in Introduction to Law and the Humanities, (Austin Sarat, Matthew Anderson, Catherine Frank eds., Cambridge University Press 2010)

“What Screen Do You Have in Mind? Contesting the Visual Context of Law and Film Studies,” chapter in Studies in Law, Politics, and Society (A. Sarat ed., Elsevier 2009)

“Law, Metaphysics, and the New Iconoclasm,” in Law Text Culture volume 11, pp. 70 – 105 (Andrew T. Kenyon and Peter D. Rush ed., 2007)

“Thinking Beyond the Shown,” (co-authored with Neal Feigenson) Law Probability Risk, Volume 6, Number 1-4 (March/December 2007) 295-310 (Oxford University Press)

“Law in the Age of Images,” chapter in James Elkins, ed., Visual Literacy in Action (Routledge 2007)

“Law’s Enchantment: The Cinematic Jurisprudence of Krzystztof Kieslowski,” in Popular Culture and Law (International Library of Essays in Law & Society) (Michael Freeman, ed., Ashgate, March 2005).

“Law in the Age of Images: The Challenge of Visual Literacy,” Chapter in Contemporary Issues in the Semiotics of Law at 231–55 (Hart Publishers, 2005).

“Anti-Oedipus, Lynch: Initiatory Rites and the Ordeal of Justice,” Chapter in Law on the Screen at 95-112 (A. Sarat, L. Douglas & M. Humphrey, eds., Stanford University Press, 2005).

“Law in the Digital Age: The Challenge of Visual Literacy, in Contemporary Issues” in the Semiotics of Law 231-255 (Onati International Series in Law and Society: Hart Publishers, 2005) (with N. Feigenson & C. Spiesel).

“Law in Popular Culture,” Chapter 6 in The Blackwell Companion to Law and Society at 95–112 (A. Sarat, ed., Blackwell Publishing, 2004).

“Framed,” Chapter 4 in Legal Reelism: Movies as Legal Texts at 70–94 (John Denvir, ed., University of Illinois Press, 1996).

LAW REVIEW AND OTHER SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS

Law in the Flesh: Tracing Legitimation’s Origin to ‘The Act of Killing,’ 11 NO FOUNDATIONS: AN INTERDISCIPLINARY JOURNAL OF LAW AND JUSTICE 38-60 (2014) available at http://www.helsinki.fi/nofo/NoFo11Sherwin.html .
Performer la Loi. Présences et simulacres, sur scène et au tribunal. (Law as Performance: Presence and Simulation Inside the Theater/Courtroom) 92 COMMUNICATIONS 147-158 (2013) (Paris).

“Sublime Jurisprudence: On the Ethical Education of the Legal Imagination in Our Time,” [Vico Symposium], Chicago-Kent Law Review 83:3 (2008)“A Manifesto for Visual Legal Realism,” Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, volume 40, issue 3 (2007)

“What is Visual Knowledge, and What is it Good for? Potential Ethnographic Lessons from the Field of Legal Practice,” Visual Anthropology, vol. 20: 1–36, (2007)

“Law, Metaphysics, and the New Iconoclasm,” Article based on keynote lecture for Passages: law, aesthetics and politics, 13th International Conference of the Law and Literature Association of Australia at the University of Melbourne Law School, Law/Text/Culture (forthcoming 2007).

“On Being Among Friends: A Response to Eugene Garver’s For the Sake of Argument” (Book Review Symposium), 110 Penn State Law Review 945-953 (2006).

“Law in the Digital Age: How Visual Communication Technologies are Transforming the Practice, Theory, and Teaching of Law,” Lead article in the Boston University Journal of Law, Technology, and Science (2006) (with Neal Feigenson and Christina Spiesel).

“Law’s Beatitude: A Post-Nietzschean Account of Legitimacy” (Symposium: Nietzsche and Legal Theory), 24 Cardozo Law Review 683–704 (2003).

“Celebrity Lawyers and the Cult of Personality,” (Special Issue: Reflecting on the Legal Issues of Our Times. New York Law School Faculty Presentation Day), 46 New York Law School Law Review 517–526 (2002–2003).

“Nomos and Cinema” (Symposium: Law and Popular Culture), 48 UCLA Law Review 1519–1543 (2001).

Foreword (Symposium: Law/Media/Culture: Legal Meaning in the Age of Images), 43 New York Law School Law Review 653–659 (2000).

“The Jurisprudence of Appearances” (Symposium: Law/Media/Culture: Legal Meaning in the Age of Images), 43 New York Law School Law Review 821–842 (2000).

Introduction (Symposium: Picturing Justice: Images of Law and Lawyers in the Visual Media), 30 University of San Francisco Law Review 891–901 (1996).

“Cape Fear: Law’s Inversion and Cathartic Justice” (Symposium: Picturing Justice: Images of Law and Lawyers in the Visual Media), 30 University of San Francisco Law Review 1023–1050 (1996).

“Law and the Myth of the Self in Mass Media Representations,” 8 International Journal for the Semiotics of Law 299–326 (1995).

“Law Frames: Historical Truth and Narrative Necessity in a Criminal Case,” 47 Stanford Law Review 39–84 (1994).

“The Narrative Construction of Legal Reality” (Lawyers as Storytellers & Storytellers as Lawyers: An Interdisciplinary Symposium Exploring the Use of Storytelling in the Practice of Law), 18 Vermont Law Review 681–719 (1994).

Preface (Lawyering Theory Symposium: Thinking Through the Legal Culture), 37 New York Law School Law Review 1–7 (1992).

“Lawyering Theory: An Overview ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Law’” (Lawyering Theory Symposium: Thinking Through the Legal Culture), 37 New York Law School Law Review 9–53 (1992).

“Rhetorical Pluralism and the Discourse Ideal: Countering Division of Employment v. Smith, a Parable of Pagans, Politics, and Majoritarian Rule,” 85 Northwestern University Law Review 388–441 (1991).

“Law, Violence, and Illiberal Belief,” 78 Georgetown Law Journal 1785–1835 (1990).

Dialects and Dominance: A Study of Rhetorical Fields in the Law of Confessions, 136 University of Pennsylvania Law Review 729–849 (1988).

“A Matter of Voice and Plot: Belief and Suspicion in Legal Storytelling,” 87 Michigan Law Review 543–612 (1988).

“Publics, Experts and the Language of Democracy: A Study in the Rhetoric of Law,” (J.S.D. Thesis) (Columbia Law School, 1988).

“Opening Hart’s Concept of Law,” 20 Valparaiso University Law Review 385–411 (1986).

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES, PRACTICE MATERIALS AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS

Book Review of William Haltom and Michael McCann’s Distorting the Law: Politics, Media and the Litigation Crisis, 231 New York Law Journal 2 (November 23, 2004).