04 Nov IRAC Can Be Hot!
IRAC, not IRAQ.
One of the biggest hurdles in your first year of law school will be learning how to use the IRAC method when writing essays. IRAC is not a place first off, it is an acronym for Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion. Some people say Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion; but really that’s just semantics. Writing in the IRAC method may take you months to master or it may take you days; but no matter how long it takes you it is one of the most important things to understand in law school.
Listen to our podcast on IRAC for a better understanding of how the rest of us felt learning how to use IRAC or the potholes we stepped in trying to figure it all out!
The I stands for Issue. We are instructed that the Issue should be posed as a question; think Jeopardy. It took me a very long time to realize that the key to understanding the issue was in the key word “Whether”. If you see the word “whether” when you are reading a case or while reading in your horn book, you should probably slow down on the reading because something important is about to be said!
Whether is that key word that clues you in to the issue. “Whether the Statute of Frauds applies to leases for land for longer than one year”! DING DING DING! How the cases state their issue is how you should strive to state yours. Now granted, this takes on a bit of a different meaning when you are writing essays but the concept is similar. Your essay issues should sound more like “Is there a valid offer?” You could still write “Whether there is a valid offer” but you would sound silly so stick with what works for you.
The R stands for the Rule. The rule is your rule statement. We all know what rule statements are. If you don’t know what a rule statement is then give it a week in law school and you will understand. Rule statements are sometimes called the “definitions” of the specific thing you are discussing. So if you are discussing battery your rule statement will be “A volitional act done with requisite intent which causes a harmful or offensive touching”.
The A stands for Analysis or Application. This is where you will apply your fact pattern to the elements in your rule statement. For example, use battery described above. You will need to apply the elements in the rule statement (volitional act, requisite intent, causation, harmful or offensive touching) to the fact pattern. Some schools teach you to use the method called the “Here Because Therefore” method and some schools don’t. Ask your school or professor how they would suggest you write the application.
Finally, the C stands for Conclusion. The conclusion is the part that is the least important. Remember, this is law school and reasonable minds differ. As long as you state the Issue, note the Rule, and apply your analysis to all the elements, what your conclusion turns out to be is the least important issue.