IRAC is an acronym for “Issue, Rule, Application, and Conclusion”. IRAC is taught to 1Ls (first-year law students) as a tool for legal analysis and “thinking/writing like a lawyer.” When you’re marketing to attorneys, you can use the tenets of IRAC to pitch them in a “language” that’s since become second nature to them.
Here’s how the IRAC methodology works in legal writing:
- “Issue” is exactly what is sounds like: it’s the legal question / problem / dispute.
- “Rule” is how the issue is generally handled: what decisions were made previously and whether those earlier decisions require the same result this time. These earlier rulings aren’t always mandatory: they could be made by a judge in a different state, for example. In such a case, the decisions could still have some persuasive value. (For instance, Maine’s laws are close to ours in many respects; therefore, a Maine decision might suggest how New Hampshire might address/resolve a novel issue.)
- “Application” is when you take the general rule (such as “***All*** dogs love bones”) and apply it to the facts of the particular issue (here, “Charlie hates bones.”)
- “Conclusion” directly answers the question presented in the issue section. (E.g., “Charlie isn’t a dog”.) However, if it turns out that Charlie IS a dog, then it’s the rule needs to be changed.
By now, you’re probably asking how all this relates to marketing to lawyers. Many marketers and salespeople already use a process that really isn’t that different than IRAC: they define their customer’s need/problem, offer their solution, show how their solution can meet the customer’s need/problem, and “conclude” that the customer’s purchase of their solution is the only reasonable next step to make. So how can IRAC give you an edge when our members are on the receiving end of a cacophony of sales/promo pitches?
Let’s use a hypothetical example of an initial e-mail to promote advertising space in a special hard-cover book commemorating the 150th anniversary of the NH Bar Association in 2023. (While you’ll be doing targeted messages down the road to the various subsets of our database, this first e-mail is going out to all 8,000+ NHBAR members.)
The volume is expensive to produce and print; advertiser support is necessary to make it viable. We also want to sell advance copies of the books. The larger firms are the likely prospects, but there are also others who want to “play with the big boys.” Finally, you want to make some affordable options available to small firms and solo practitioners.
Your copy, using an IRA framework, needs to address a number of issues attorneys in general face when deciding whether to advertise anywhere, with the ultimate question being “Should by firm advertise in this publication?” These issues include prestige and visibility, cost of participation, giving back to the community, having the resources to create copy and ads, whether the firm has articulated its vision statement, return on investment, distribution, and relevancy.
The “rules” include (1) to succeed financially, firms of all sizes need to “get the word out” about themselves; (2) attorneys and firms want to be seen in the best possible light, both by the public, but also by the courts and their peers; and (3) attorneys really do want to do good and change the world for the better.
To complete the IRAC framework, I applied the rules to the issues, to draw the e-mail recipient closer to a conclusion that being in this volume is a great (and their own) idea:
“Take a second to recognize how your firm has grown and evolved over the years. What moments and accomplishments have given you the greatest satisfaction? What challenges have you overcome? Whose lives have you changed? What is your legacy?
“150 Years of the NH Bar Association” isn’t so much about us as it is about you, our members. This hard-cover volume…[rest of description]
We’ve made it [nearly] to 150 as a group. Our stories and successes are intertwined and together, we have a lot to celebrate. So we’ve created opportunities for firms of all sizes to leave their mark and participate in this once-in-a lifetime publication.
[details of offer; different packages available for both advertising and buying books]
“150 Years of the NH Bar Association” will be an impressive addition to your bookshelf or waiting area coffee table, but it’s really so much more. It provides valuable historic background and current information on NH’s leading law firms and thought leaders. The people and organizations who are bettering the world, one client at a time. Someone just like you.
We understand that not everyone has an ad agency and PR firm at their fingertips, so if you place your order by [date], our staff can help you prepare your advertising message and listing copy. And a portion of the proceeds of your advertising and advance book purchases will benefit the New Hampshire Bar Foundation.
It’s never been so easy to look good while doing good.
[deadlines, call to action, and contact info]
Did you notice that I just used a derivative of IRAC to sell you on the idea of using IRAC?
- The issue is whether a form of IRAC can be used to effectively target attorneys about NHBA’s offerings;
- the “rule” is that based on research studies about perceived similarity – the concept that people like others when they believe that they have a lot in common – one effective way to reach lawyers is to think and talk like a lawyer yourself;
- I then applied IRAC to the specific hypothetical example of advertising in the 150th Anniversary book, with the assumption that if IRAC-based promo works for one situation, it’ll be equally as effectively in other similar situations; and
- I concluded that IRAC could be an effective way to target and reach lawyers about NHBA’s offerings.
Now that you know about IRAC, consider adding it to your promo toolbox.
- Lynne Sabean