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

hand header)

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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