April 2014: Applying Persuasive Legal Writing Principles To Proposals
Engineers, like lawyers, are educated and trained problem solvers. Engineers are trained in technical writing for exams, theses and the like, with the intent to lead the reader to the correct technical solution. Lawyers, on the other hand, are trained in persuasive writing for exams, litigation, and the like, with the intent to lead the reader to the author’s preferred conclusion.
We all know that a proposal is neither a creative writing endeavor nor a doctoral thesis. Rather, its goal is to clearly and concisely convince the customer to select, and defend, ours as the winning proposal…which is analogous (in a legal setting) to persuading the jury to accept our proffered point of view as “truth.” To help us achieve this goal in a simple, structured, and repeatable manner, we adapt the legal analysis and writing technique “IRAC,” which is the acronym for Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion, as shown below.
IRAC Element Legal Setting Analogous Proposal Setting
Issue The statement of the The section L topic to be discussed
legal question(s) at (usually the proposal section
Rule A statement of the Our solution as it specifically
law applicable to the applies to the section L topic (this is
"Issue" the first sentence)
Application How and why the Explain and argue by facts and data
rules developed in how and why our solution best
the "Rule" section are satisfies the section M or other
or are not applied to evaluation criteria
the speific facts of
the issue at hand Where appropriate, we also explain
or argue why our competitors'
solution does not satisfy the section
M or other evaulation criteria (i.e.
Conclusion Directly answers the Restate clearly and concisely that
question presented and how our solution addresses the
in the "Issue" section L topic (this is the last
section of the IRAC sentence)
I teach this and other Black Dog Technology LLC expert techniques in my “Proposal Writing School” workshop immediately prior to writing kickoff. The primary benefit is:
IRAC is a simple, easy to follow "recipe" for persuasive, concise proposal writing
Contact us for your capture/proposal support needs or to arrange your Proposal Navigator® system capability demonstration.
The Proposal Team's Mission
Synthesize and package the capture team’s vision
into a compliant, convincing and compelling offering
whose selection can be successfully defended
... without breaking the pursuit budget bank.
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