Professor of Law
Director, Visual Persuasion Project
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 ) 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 website at: http://www.nyls.edu/centers/projects/visual_persuasion/. This is the first and to date the only site 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).
O: 40 Worth St., SE 947
Brandeis, B.A. 1975 summa cum laude
Boston College, J.D. 1981 (Boston College Third World Law Journal, Executive and Cofounding Editor)
Columbia, LL.M. 1985, J.S.D. 1989
Expert on use of visual representations and visual persuasion in litigation and litigants’ public relations, and on interrelationship between law and popular culture. Author of interdisciplinary scholarship in jurisprudence, narrative theory, law and society, and law and film. Began law career as Assistant District Attorney for County of New York.