Law and Popular Culture

Popular Legal Studies

There is a two-way traffic between law and popular culture. Real legal issues and controversies give rise to popular legal representations just as popular legal representations help to inform and shape real legal issues and case outcomes. But what are the consequences for a society when law and entertainment merge? Should we distinguish between the persuasive effects of verbal as compared to visual metaphors? And what if, in addition to transforming the legal mind and culture, significant changes in communication technology make a difference in legal content as well? What sort of difference? What impact might this new technology have on the search for truth, the authority of law, and the quest for justice?

Raising and finding answers to these sorts of questions are critical scholarly goals of popular legal studies.

In this part of the Visual Persuasion website you may explore the history of this new scholarly movement as well as its present goals and future prospects.

Related Links

See R. K. Sherwin, When Law Goes Pop: The Vanishing Line btween Law and Popular Culture (Chicago, 2000)

[Excerpts: Introduction: Law in the Age of Images;

The Notorious Adultery Trial of the Reverend Henry Ward Beech]

R. K. Sherwin, Popular Culture and Law (Ashgate 2006)


James ElkinsJournal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 8(1) (2001) 48-57

Ryan AlfordJournal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture, 8(2) (2001) 136-144

Jeffrey Rosen, “Television Collides With The Supreme Court: And Prime Time for All” [The New Republic]

Interview: Stayfree Magazine

Patricia J. McEvoy, Elizabeth A. Foley & Stephanie L. Jaros, “Telling the Right Story

in Opening Statements,” [CBA Record, January 2003]

Law and Visualisation: An interdisciplinary research project on the relations between law and visuality

(Section on Legal History, Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo)

Courtroom Application of Immersive Environments, Immersive Virtual Environments, and Collaborative Virtual Environments” (Stanford University, Department of Communication)



This site is sponsored by New York Law School’s Visual Persuasion Project (Professor Richard K. Sherwin, founder & director, Curriculum Vitae).