The IRAC method is a framework for organizing your thoughts when analyzing a legal issue. It stands for Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion. Here’s a closer look at each step:
Issue: The first step is to identify the legal issue or issues that are presented by the facts of the case. You should state the issue or issues in the form of a question.
Rule: The second step is to identify the relevant legal rule or rules that apply to the issue or issues you have identified. These rules may come from constitutional law, statutory law, or case law.
Analysis: The third step is to apply the relevant legal rules to the facts of the case. This is where you will discuss how the law applies to the facts and whether the outcome of the case is likely to be different if the law were applied differently.
Conclusion: The fourth and final step is to reach a conclusion about what the likely outcome of the case will be. This conclusion should be based on your analysis of the law and the facts.
This handout explains the fundamental paradigm, or organizational structure, of predictive legal analysis, often known as “IRAC.” IRAC is a basic analytical paradigm; as your legal writing skills improve, you will be able to adjust it to fit a specific law issue. You can determine when it’s appropriate to modify the IRAC paradigm in a given scenario once you understand the IRAC structure and can apply it correctly.
There is no “right” answer to the question of whether or not to use IRAC. Some professors prefer that students use IRAC, while others do not mind if students depart from the structure. You should always follow your professor’s preferences.
The IRAC method is a framework for organizing your answer to a problem-based question. IRAC stands for:
I – Issue
R – Rule
A – Analysis
C – Conclusion
The Issue is the legal issue you are asked to address. The Rule is the law that applies to the issue. The Analysis applies the rule to the facts of the case, and finally, the Conclusion states what result would follow from this application of the rule to the facts.
The Issue: The first step in IRAC is to identify the legal issue. The legal issue is the question that the court will answer. For example, in a contract law problem, the legal issue might be whether there was a valid contract formed between the parties. In a torts problem, the legal issue might be whether the plaintiff can recover damages from the defendant.
The Rule: Once you have identified the legal issue, you need to find the rule of law that applies to that issue. The rule of law may come from a statute, from a case, or from a Restatement. You need to state the rule clearly and concisely. For example, if the legal issue is whether there was a valid contract formed between the parties, the rule of law might be the requirement for a valid contract: offer, acceptance, and consideration.
The Analysis: The next step is to apply the rule to the facts of the case. This is where you will discuss whether or not the elements of the rule are met by the facts. For example, if the legal issue is whether there was a valid contract formed between the parties, you will need to discuss whether there was an offer, whether there was an acceptance, and whether there was consideration.
The Conclusion: Finally, you need to reach a conclusion as to what result would follow from your application of the rule to the facts. For example, if you conclude that there was a valid contract formed between the parties, you might conclude that the plaintiff can enforce the contract against the defendant.
IRAC is a helpful tool for organizing your thoughts and your answer to a legal problem, but it is important to remember that there is no “right” way to answer a legal problem. You may find that in some cases, IRAC is not the best way to organize your thoughts. In other cases, you may find that you need to modify IRAC to fit the particular legal issue. As you gain experience in legal writing, you will be able to decide when and how to deviate from IRAC.
Since IRAC structure is a natural approach to express and defend prediction, predictive legal writing employs it. Because of this, when reading an intraoffice legal paper, attorneys have come to expect that format. It will confuse the reader if the document does not follow that structure for no apparent reason.
The IRAC method is the standard of legal writing. It stands for Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion. The method allows you to clearly state the issue at hand, identify the relevant rule or rules, analyze how those rules apply to the facts of your case, and reach a conclusion based on your analysis.
Legal writing is complicated because it often requires you to discuss complex issues that are governed by multiple rules. The IRAC method helps to simplify those issues by breaking them down into manageable parts.
When you use the IRAC method, you first state the issue or question that you are addressing. You then identify the relevant rule or rules that govern that issue. Next, you analyze how those rules apply to the facts of your case. Finally, you reach a conclusion based on your analysis.
The IRAC method is helpful because it forces you to think through the issue and identify all of the relevant rules. It also helps to organize your thoughts and present them in a logical manner.
When you use the IRAC method, you must be careful not to oversimplify the issue or ignore any relevant rules. If you do so, your analysis will be inaccurate and your conclusion will be wrong.
The best way to avoid these mistakes is to take the time to fully understand the issue before you begin writing. Once you have a good understanding of the issue, you can then identify all of the relevant rules and analyze how they apply to the facts of your case.