Consumer Bankruptcy Journal Fall 2015 - Page 26

WRITING BRIEFS his brief. It wandered through the endless sentences and puked up commas. It didn’t have a point. And the worst part was that I had to read it. So how do we get to aggressive legal writing that eviscerates your opponent’s arguments? Simple. IRAC. IRAC stands for “Issue; Rule; Application; Conclusion.” The Issue (“I”) explains in one sentence the question the IRAC analysis will resolve. The Rule (“R”) establishes the controlling authority. But since the Rule sits on the coattails of the Issue it is wedged in with blunt force to choke out any objection that another Rule may apply. This permits the Application (“A”) to cherry-pick the necessary facts for a fine-point conclusion. The Conclusion (“C”) you need the judge to understand now spins with force against anything in its path namely the contrary arguments set forth by your opponent. Strategically, your document needs to be front-loaded with the favorable IRAC analysis at the beginning for two reasons. First, it drives the judge immediately to the correct conclusion which, naturally, is yours. Second, it makes your opponent’s arguments easier to attack. Incidentally, each of your opponent’s arguments should rece ive its own IRAC analysis in your brief so that you have the ability to construct your opponent’s arguments to be as strong or as weak as you need them. This separates every argument, explains each clearly, and gives the judge 26 CONSUMER BANKRUPTCY JOURNAL the ability to side with the best argument. IV. No Reader Escapes Point Headings – They All Fall By The Sword Of The Pen. Using IRAC effectively in a brief requires well-crafted point headings. Therefore, each IRAC analysis should get its own point heading. Point headings catch a judge’s eyes and burn into his mind the one thought you need him to remember. Most importantly, they set clear parameters for each analysis which also works to roadmap a document. This is a great control mechanism for babblers. It also shuts out any red herrings. Expertly crafted point headings are about two full lines. Anything more is too much for someone’s eyes on a quick read. Compelling point headings are declarative statements – always favorable to your conclusion – of the IRAC analysis that it introduces. It is the one thought that you need the judge to remember. For example, when I draft my briefs if my one thought is “I am right, and you are wrong,” I literally use that as my point heading to drive the focus of that IRAC analysis. Once the analysis is complete I rewrite the point heading so that it pulls the essential points from the analysis. Strategically, if the judge does not have the time to read your brief then he can scan the point headings for an expert summation Winter 2015 of your position (always first) and then your opponent’s (limping along in second). If he did read your brief but is caught among the myriad of cases that morning, then when you are before him he has the ability to scan your brief for the point headings that jog his memory of each sections’ content. V. Documents Need Curvy Paragraphs, Bolded Sentences, And Spicy Indentations. Once the parameters of each IRAC analysis are set off by point headings the visual beauty of the section is easier to manipulate since the hard work is largely conquered. Therefore, the face of the paper, the position of paragraphs, bolded sentences, and even a hyphen work like chili peppers on black and white. The first step to visual beauty is to use the white spaces effectively. For example, if the rule in your IRAC analysis is unfavorable to you use a block-quote of it so that the reader naturally does not want to read it. It is aesthetically overwhelming. The block quote uses the white spaces to guide the reader gently to the next paragraph. That paragraph should begin with a quote explaining the rule in the way you want it interpreted. Personally, I love annoyed appellate justices for these moments. It seeps so much love into what is an otherwise boring read. The second step to visual beauty is well-used punctuation marks. For a rule-oriented profession I am amazed at how many lawyers National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys