Saint Louis University

Developing good legal analysis in persuasive writing may be as simple as going out for an ice cream cone and wanting to eat it NOW. On the way home today a young daughter wanted to get some ice cream. Her mother agreed, but stipulated that the cone would have to be put into the freezer until after dinner. Obviously, the daughter did not agree with this plan. So, she made the following argument:

[Mommy] It's really messy when ice cream falls over in the freezer (thesis sentence). Last time we got ice cream it was in a cup and didn't fall over. This time I got my ice cream in a cone (fact-to-fact comparison). Ice cream in a cup doesn't fall over because it's not as tall. But if I get ice cream in a cone, it will fall over and make a mess (explanation of the meaning of the compared facts - distinguishing the facts). So I think I should just eat the ice cream cone as soon as we get home (conclusion - or why I don't have to wait!).

And the test of any good persuasive argument - she got to eat the ice cream before dinner!

Therefore, next time you are applying your assigned facts to the facts of a case/cases, ask yourself - cone or cup? Or in a more scholarly manner, are the facts the same or different? If you want the same result as the court case - argue the facts are similar. Contrarily, if you want different results, argue that the facts are distinguishable. Focus on the material differences - not the minor details. In the ice cream case, the container is the basis for the daughter's argument and thus material to the analysis. Use these differences to argue your position. However, had her mother noted that the cone could be placed upside down in a cup, you would have an arguable counter argument that would justify the mother's edict of waiting until after dinner. So part of persuasive writing is not only thinking about your position, but also considering what the other side might argue.

Bottom line - think about how case facts are similar or different from your assigned facts. Make the reader aware of those comparisons by specifically making analogies or distinctions. Anticipate the other side's argument and try to convince the court that your side is the correct interpretation.

†Many thanks to Amirah Bauder, for the great argument