Richard K. Sherwin
Wallace Stevens Professor of Law, Emeritus
Columbia, LL.M. 1985, J.S.D. 1989; Boston College, J.D. 1981; Brandeis, B.A. 1975 summa cum laude
Richard K. Sherwin is an expert on the multiple connections that link law and culture, focusing in particular on legal storytelling and visual communication. Professor Sherwin gained nationwide attention with his well-received book, When Law Goes Pop: The Vanishing Line between Law and Popular Culture, 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 and Entanglements, examines the interpenetration of law and the visual throughout the history of modern culture up through the current era, which he calls the age of the digital baroque. His edited volumes include Law, Culture and Visual Studies, Popular Culture and Law, and A Cultural History of Law in the Modern Age.
In 2001, Professor Sherwin began teaching Visual Persuasion in the Law, the first course in the nation to teach students about the role, efficacy, and pitfalls of using visual evidence and visual advocacy in contemporary legal practice. Students in this course create short documentary films pertaining to a legal topic of their choosing. In 2005, he launched the Visual Persuasion Project website, the first and to date only website dedicated to showcasing best practices in the visual litigation field. The Project seeks to promote visual literacy among lawyers, judges, law students, and the lay public by cultivating a better understanding of visual communication practices.
In 2018, Professor Sherwin was elected Visiting Fellow at Fitzwilliam College and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at Cambridge University. He received a Fulbright Award in 2014, and was appointed the Fulbright Canada Visiting Research Chair in Law and Literature at McGill University under the auspices of McGill Law School and the Institute for the Public Life of Art and Ideas where he was in residence during the spring 2014 semester. He received a Humanities Research Centre Fellowship and served as Visiting Research Fellow at the Research School of Humanities and the Arts, College of Arts and Social Sciences at Australia National University in Canberra, Australia during the summer of 2014.
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 in Ireland, CKUT in Canada, and Jeremiah Zagar’s highly acclaimed documentary film “Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart.”