I’ve been thinking that I want to write a brief guide for some more academic content, to share things that I’ve learned – and one of the biggest subjects where I really learned a lot was in the course “Legal Issues for Managers” (which has been revamped as Introduction to Business Law from this trimester, and now includes more content, if it really wasn’t already enough to pack into twelve weeks already). Well, it was one of the most stimulating courses that I’ve taken so far. Not only was it really interesting to learn about the Law, Contracts, Corporations Law and Agency, Employment Relations law and Anti-Discrimination legislation in the workplace. Due to the nature of the course’s exam (being open book) I was MORE organized than ever with my study notes! I also managed to achieve 98.5% in the course, which was reported as being the highest result in the course ever! So I definitely feel on that basis alone I have a bit of weight in offering some advice in writing an ILAC answer for Business Law.
So I could presume that you already know what ILAC means, but just in case, just a brief introduction. ILAC is an acronym for a certain structure used in writing up legal advice. We were told that it was industry professionals that were behind this methodology being taught to us in the course, and really I can see why. It really sets things out nicely.
- I – Issues – Where you state the particular issues that are involved in your hypothetical response, formed as questions to be answered by the end of your response.
- L – Law – Where you outline the legislation and case law involved in your response, with a brief label for each as to the basic legal principle drawn from it.
- A – Application – This is the biggest part of the answer, where, in essay form, you work your way, step by step, through the Law mentioned above, and explain the principles that they contain, and then apply the principles of the Law directly to the facts of your hypothetical.
- C – Conclusion – Here is where you go back and provide in brief an answer to your issues, including whatever procedures should be followed and available remedies.
So that’s the form in brief. Obviously, different types of Law will have a little different approach in terms of what kinds of issues you address and even what logical order you would follow. (In our course, we were given a Template to follow for Agency and Anti-Discrimination, as these were the main ILACs to be written in our final exam. So obviously pay attention to these, and then key your notes into these templates.)
Discerning the Issues
So you will be provided with a hypothetical situation, which can be either relatively straightforward or a little more complex. Generally, you will at least know what area of law is involved, because it has been assigned to you for that particular seminar workshop or section of the exam.
Always read the end first!
Right there, you’ll usually get a clear idea about WHO it is that you will be writing your advice for. For example, in my final exam, for our Anti-Discrimination ILAC, there were two women involved in a case of various anti-discrimination, sexual harassment and victimization. But actually, at the very end, it explained that it was in fact the man involved who was coming to me for advice! That radically changed what I would be writing, and especially what angle I would be addressing the questions in my issues.
Also, as you read through the hypothetical, circle the major players involved. So this can be individuals and companies (such as in Anti-Discrimination where you could have issues of vicarious liability).
Just these few tips will help you so much! And always remember these need to be framed as questions.
Also, it is good practice to begin with: “Under the Anti-Discrimination Act (Qld) (QADA) and the common law…” Or whatever particular legislation involved (or for something like contract or agency, just “Under the common law…” will usually suffice).
Choosing the Relevant Legislation & Case Law
Now for me, the key to doing this well was the previous organization of my notes. I created spreadsheets which laid out in order the various sections of the relevant Acts, a little summary of key concepts and words, as well as relevant case law. For areas of law, such as Contract and Agency, where there isn’t so much legislation involved, I had a similar spreadsheet of my cases, with brief descriptions of the relevant principles
For Anti-Discrimination, I created a spreadsheet that followed my template, and then all the cases involved with each different area – direct and indirect discrimination, workplace or pre-work, different attributes such as race or sex or whatever under section 7 (QADA), examples of cases where the different defenses were involved, such as “Genuine Occupational Requirement”, sexual harassment, vilification and victimization.
My biggest advice is to be VERY organized with your notes, in spreadsheets or tables – whatever works for you. Actually, it is really about doing whatever works for you, because the biggest benefit to your learning will actually be through producing these. It will help make you super-familiar with your notes and lock it in your memory.
Writing Up Your Application
So for Application, you basically follow the steps involved, based on your particular area of Law with the relevant template.
Be very careful to make sure that you reference every section of legislation and case law that you referenced in your Law section, as you will only be allocated the marks for Law if you prove that you can apply it. So basically, the Application isn’t just the bulk of marks, but a double-whamee!
Most of your issues will be addressed here. However, remember that this isn’t your Conclusion. This is where you are basically “showing your working.” A good pattern to use is to define terms, explain legislation, use cases to add richness and mention whatever facts are relevant to draw the connection to your current case, and then apply this directly to your case. Explain and apply, rinse and repeat!
Concluding Things Neatly
Now one thing I learned with conclusion, you are not just answering the final questions. You are actually going back and summarizing your conclusions to each issue as per your application.
Usually, you will be writing based on commercial law. So the standard of proof will be “On the balance of probabilities…” This is easy marks just using this to begin.
Another important thing to mention here is that it is important that among your notes somewhere you have a diagram of the different courts and what money amounts will be addressed at what level. If money is involved (which it is often with business), then you should be identifying which particular court will address this case.
Also, you will be outlining the remedies, and thus, the elements of law and cases that you haven’t used in your Application, which relate to remedies, will be cited here.
So If You Need Any Advice (Academic, not Legal), Feel Free to Connect
So I hope that this helps some! As always, I’d be definitely glad to help you if you want some more advice on writing ILACs for Business Law. I got 30/30 for my Corporations Law ILAC Major Assessment, and then in the Exam I got 16/16 for my Agency ILAC and 19.5/20 for my Anti-Discrimination ILAC. I actually honestly quite enjoyed this kind of writing (which is probably part of why I’m considering transferring from simply a Bachelor of Business to a double-degree in Business & Law).
Anyway, glad to be of help! Drop me a line!