Planned Parenthood of Minnesota v. Daugaard
The IRAC assignments in my Civil Liberties class were very structured in nature; the acronym naming the assignment outlined all of the required content: Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion. I followed these specifications and crafted the content to address the assignment’s rhetorical situation. The purpose of IRAC assignments was to simulate a law clerk’s evaluation of a case. The clerk’s write-ups outline questions presented and offer a recommendation to a justice as to whether certiorari, or an order from a higher court to a lower court to send documents in a case for review, should be granted. IRAC 4 was the last IRAC we completed for the course and was definitely my best.
Based on the hypothetical audience and the expectation of the actual audience (my professor), my writing is very direct and void of emotion but also very descriptive so it serves the intended purpose of being neutral but informative. In the Analysis section, I did my best to present the facts of the case and not include either my personal bias or even a bias for the stronger argument so both perspectives would be equally represented. The language had to be direct so all of the required information could be included without going over the recommended length requirement.
When composing the document, I sorted through the case details to determine the issue at hand, researched previous cases with related issues whose rulings would be applicable, crafted a series of arguments that could be expected on both sides, and then determined which arguments were stronger. This process followed the method of analysis outlined by the acronym naming the assignment, and is one I know I need to be very comfortable with considering I will use it often in law school.
Recognizing an assignment of this nature relies heavily on ethos and logos, I included language directly from the case and directly presented both sides of an issue before advocating for one. I formed my arguments based on very thorough research; I wanted to find the strongest references to prior cases as possible to ensure a logical connection that would be resilient.
Following this process was foreign to me in the first IRAC we were assigned, but by the fourth I was more comfortable. Because I am used to writing a lot of reflective pieces and have a personal tendency of overusing descriptive language, it was difficult for me to be as direct in my writing as required. I often spoke around the issue more than I should have and added a lot of unnecessary language. Eventually, I internalized the need to be direct and allowed myself to make explicit statements, such as, “The issue here is…” and “The stronger argument in this case lies with…” I was afraid language that direct would sound too terse and simple, but I learned in this discipline and for the purpose of the assignment it was appropriate. Though at first I was worried it would make my writing sound weak, I realized it actually focused and directed my arguments and, consequently, strengthened them. The rigid specifications of the assignment helped guide my decisions for content, length, and voice, and made it easier for me to deviate from my normal tendencies in order to create the best product possible for the given assignment.
Considering the discourse community in which the genre is situated made me able to see the need for conciseness more clearly. When making decisions regarding the law, facts cannot be muddled by unnecessary language. While the power of language is a driving force in legal decision-making, it is the close detail to specifics that makes an argument effective. The goal in legal writing is to make complex things seem simple, not to make simple things seem complex, which is often the case for other undergraduate writing. As an aspiring law student, I need to internalize this reality, and this assignment helped me see why those stylistic characteristics are important.