so maybe you’re like me, and you just get used to the idea that attorneys are just sort of… glorified talkers? but if that’s the impression you’ve been under thus long, i’m here to confirm that you’re right.
though it seems a bit weird to listen to yourself say, that yes, attorneys are just educated talkers.
to help that make sense, i’ll draw out the basics for you.
judges, for the most part, won’t ever read a full document that you present to them. the memorandums and briefs attorneys spend days, weeks, and sometimes months on, are put in front of a judge who may only read a paragraph or two.
i know, beth, what does that have to do with anything?
well, this is where those glorified talking skills come into play.
you’ve got to place things in certain orders to get your point across the way you want; and believe it or not, there are studies to the methods you’re supposed to use.
any law student reading this knows what i’m talking about, and why the inventors of law decided to keep things in four’s… (duty, breach, causation, damages… i mean, i hear in fours now…), i’m not sure, but the method of organization most common is called I.R.A.C.
i – issue
r – rule
a – analysis
c – conclusion
this is plotted out the way it is, because it’s how you should approach any communication. you start with the issue, being the “legal question” (as you will usually hear it referenced). don’t let the fancy words fool you. the legal question is literally the reason you’re wanting to start a lawsuit.
moving onto the rule, it’s basically the answer to the legal question. (so in dumb and dumber terms, it’s the law).
in a criminal murder case,
the issue would be that your client, stephen, is pleading innocent to the murder of angela.
the issue would be, well, that stephen did not kill angela. the rule would be whatever law that pertains to his innocence.
from there, you have analysis. this is where, if you’re making a sandwich, you’re going to want to put the meat, and even a few of those veggies no one really wants.
am i just hungry or did i just make a reference correlating law and deli food? both? but i’m not wrong.
in the analysis portion, you’ll want to do two things. the first one being where you put your counter-analysis. a counter analysis is the facts that are not favorable to your client.
taking it back to the criminal scenario, the counter analysis may be where you acknowledge, that yes, his blood DNA was found all over her body along with hers, but… and that’s where you put in your actual analysis, which are the facts that aid your client.
now, when one of my professors told me that, i’ve got to tell you, i gave her the weirdest look.
how are you about to tell me you actually want to acknowledge facts that aren’t honorable to your client? connecting the beginning of this blogpost to here, that’s what i meant by studies that have been conducted to promote the organizational method. this is because it has been scientifically proven that throughout a standard paragraph brief given to a judge or the jury, the most forgotten part of it is the middle. you plead your case in the beginning and in the end of the memorandum, and you squeeze the negatives right in the middle.
coming last is the obvious conclusion, which is usually not even more than a sentence. (i know, i, again, looked at my professor, as if to say “we have to go through how many english classes just for you to tell me a conclusion is one sentence?”) but alas, this is only due to page limitations.
usually, within what you present to a judge or jury, there’s actually two ways of talking.
don’t people just talk?
it’s called active and passive voice. the key is differentiating between which *voice* you should use.
active voice is “better,” only because you’re usually using passive voice when you’re hiding the facts. usually to deemphasize something. in your counter-analysis, this is where passive voice would be used.
i know, what the hell? you’ve got to use more than one voice to talk? trust me, i didn’t make the rules…
(someone’s got to love these puns, they’re not going away.)
be in mind that the only time you use negative facts against your client in a passive voice is only when you’re presenting it to court personnel.
when updating a client on the status of their case, (basically tell them everything they don’t understand) you put the pros and cons in an objective writing format. this would be the written version of something more along the lines of active voice, only because you’re presenting every side of the lawsuit for your client, even the bad, to give them an idea of what’s at hand.
within both active and passive voice, as well as objective and persuasive writing, there are even two ways to present the facts, positive or negative, depending on the situation.
you will hear this part of the method as “statement of facts”, in which you can either assess them chronologically or topically.
usually, you present the facts chronologically if there’s, for example, a car accident. the reason being that you can play out the event step by step. whereas, the statement of facts should be plotted out topically if you’re dealing with a divorce, per se. this is because there are a lot of things being put into play, such as property, children, etc.
in the statement of facts, it’s vital to know that you’re not analyzing the facts, and you’re solely discussing them. the analysis, like stated before, comes later.
so yes, attorneys are educated talkers, but trust me…
i can talk.