Here are some helpful tips for writing a better IRAC


To succeed in legal research and writing, it is important to know the format of legal writing. No matter if you are writing a memo, a brief or any other type of writing, you will use the IRAC format regardless of where you work or what you study.

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Although the details of the format may vary from law firm to law school, this guide will help students and undergrads to better understand the format.

What is the IRAC?

The IRAC method represents the following concepts:

I: The legal issue at hand.

  • R: The expected outcome or rule.
  • A: An analysis or explanation of relevant laws and case law. The “answer” may sometimes be referred to as “A”, but the content is the same.
  • C: Your legal analysis’s conclusion or summary.

Although the IRAC format is used by the majority of law firms and schools, some practices may use CRAC or CREAC. The “C” is usually used to refer to the conclusion, while the “E” refers generally to the explanation. The main elements will not change, however.

Although there is no IRAC “F”, the facts section is crucial to all IRACs. You will need to sum up the key facts in a memo or brief. Students often find this difficult as “issue spotting” or other legal analyses can take a lot of time to master. Students often write too much and too little.

These are some quick tips to remember:

Do you remember the “5 W” and “H” in elementary school? These elements still apply to legal writing. To present a complete picture, you need to include a who, what and where as well as a why, how, and when in your factual analysis.

It’s best to leave it out if it isn’t a crucial detail.

Be sure to include all facts that you intend to mention in this section. Students will often introduce a new fact or analyze in the conclusion, which can lead to legal writing errors.

Keep your paragraphs brief. Too much information in one paragraph can be too complicated for busy judges or lawyers to understand.

Although you can start with the facts section, you should always read your analysis again after you have completed your analysis. This will ensure that you only address the most critical points.

The legal problem is being addressed

It is easiest to create the issue by writing the question after you have completed the IRAC. The issue is a continuation of the conclusion written in question form.

Because you are merely stating where the case is located, the “under” section is the easiest. The next blank in the question refers the crime or liability. The final blank refers the case. Here are some examples of issue statements:

  • Maryland law says that a landlord is negligent if he doesn’t replace a fence within 6 months or if a wild animal has entered the property.
  • Georgia law allows a person to be convicted of breaking and entering an apartment if she was trying to make an emergency call.
  • Colorado law makes it clear that a doctor can be held liable for damages if an intern she supervises had consensual sexual relations to her patient.

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Defining the rule

The rule section is the place where you give a shorter answer to your issue statement. While some law schools and law firms may expand this section, these useful hints will help you regardless of the format your boss or employer recommends.

Although this can vary, the general rule should be written in the same neutral tone that the issue. You don’t need to include party names or any other proper nouns.

  • A rule should not exceed a few sentences. This is not the place to explain the law. Instead, you present a legal conclusion.
  • You may need several rule statements in situations where multiple laws are applicable. It is possible to create more than one legal issue if that’s the case. Make sure that your number of legal issues is equal to your number of rules.
  • Write your rule with a clear tone, even if some of the case law or statutes are unclear. You can use the analysis and conclusion to explain any deficiencies.
  • This rule might seem like a long sentence. That’s ok. This is just one example where the usual grammatical rules do not apply to legal writing.

Here are some examples of rules:

Yes, Maryland landlords can be considered negligent if they fail to repair fences when there was constructive and actual notice that the damage was severe enough for an animal or intruder to pass through.

A person who is in imminent danger of being hurt herself or her family members cannot be charged with breaking and entering to escape danger and to contact law enforcement.

No. Colorado law does not allow a doctor to prevent consensual relationships between her intern and a patient.

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Write the answer/analysis

In terms of giving helpful hints, the answer section of the IRAC is the most difficult. Every case is unique and may present different circumstances. Your firm or law school may have particular style and grammatical rules you should follow.

Criminal law cases will usually need to refer to a statute. A lot of civil cases, particularly personal injury cases may not be covered by a statute.

  • Each of the civil and criminal cases must have at least two sources for case law.
  • Citations are important so make sure you follow the correct Bluebook format or ALWD format.
  • Complex cases and cases that involve multiple issues should include subheadings to each legal topic.
  • Use an analogy structure when comparing cases. Take this example:
  • Our client, like Hayes’s defendant who entered the store with a knife, opened the lock using a pocket knife.
  • The landlord in Cogswell knew about the mold growth for several days, but Mrs. Smith was not notified.

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Your IRAC is complete

An IRAC’s conclusion is similar to a scientific conclusion. It summarizes your legal findings. The conclusion should not exceed a paragraph but must address the legal question and provide a legal ruling. You will also address questions like whether the firm should accept a particular case.