Examples and Observations:
- The IRAC (issue, rule, analysis, conclusion) legal analysis process . . . is a structured approach to problem solving. The IRAC format, when followed in the preparation of a legal memorandum, helps ensure the clear communication of the complex subject matter of legal issue analysis."
(William H. Putman, Legal Research, Analysis and Writing, 3rd ed. Delmar, 2010)
- Sample IRAC Paragraph
"(I) Whether a bailment for the mutual benefit of Rough & Touch and Howard existed. (R) A pawn is a form of bailment, made for the mutual benefit of bailee and bailor, arising when goods are delivered to another as a pawn for security to him on money borrowed by the bailor. Jacobs v. Grossman, 141 N.E. 714, 715 (III. App.Ct. 1923). In Jacobs, the court found that a bailment for mutual benefit did arise because the plaintiff pawned a ring as collateral for a $70 loan given to him by the defendant. Id. (A) In our problem, Howard pawned her ring as collateral to secure an $800 loan given to her by Rough & Tough. (C) Therefore, Howard and Rough & Tough probably created a bailment for mutual benefit."
(Hope Viner Samborn and Andrea B. Yelin, Basic Legal Writing for Paralegals, 3rd ed. Aspen, 2010)
"When faced with a fairly simple legal problem, all the IRAC elements may fit into a single paragraph. At other times you may want to divide the IRAC elements. For example, you might wish to set out the issue and the rule of law in one paragraph, the analysis for the plaintiff in a second paragraph, and the analysis for the defendant and your conclusion in a third paragraph, and the transitional phrase or sentence in the first sentence of yet a fourth paragraph."
(Katherine A. Currier and Thomas E. Eimermann, Introduction to Paralegal Studies: A Critical Thinking Approach, 4th ed. Asen, 2010)
- The Relationship Between IRAC and Court Opinions
"IRAC stands for the components of legal analysis: issue, rule, application, and conclusion. What is the relationship between IRAC (or its variations . . .) and a court opinion? Judges certainly provide legal analysis in their opinions. Do the judges follow IRAC? Yes they do, although often in highly stylized formats. In almost every court opinion, judges:
- identify the legal issues to be resolved (the I of IRAC);Each issue in the opinion goes through this process. A judge may not use all of the language of IRAC, may use different versions of IRAC, and may discuss the components of IRAC in a different order. Yet IRAC is the heart of the opinion. It is what opinions do: they apply rules to facts to resolve legal issues."
- interpret statutes and other rules (the R of IRAC);
- provide reasons why the rules do or do not apply to the facts (the A of IRAC); and
- conclude by answering the legal issues through holdings and a disposition (the C of IRAC).
(William P. Statsky, Essentials of Paralegalism, 5th ed. Delmar, 2010)
- Alternative Format: CREAC
"The IRAC formula . . . envisions a time-pressured exam answer . . ..
"But what's rewarded in law-school exams tends not to be rewarded in real-life writing. So the coveted IRAC mantra . . . will produce mediocre to worse results in memo-writing and brief-writing. Why? Because if you were to write a one-issue memo using the IRAC organization, you wouldn't reach the conclusion--the answer to the issue--until the end. . . .
"Knowing this, some legal-writing professors recommend another strategy for writing you do after law school. They call it CREAC, which stands for conclusion-rule-elaboration-application (of the rule to the facts)-conclusion (restated). Although you'd probably be penalized for that organizational strategy on most law exams, it's actually superior to IRAC for other types of writing. But it, too, has a serious shortcoming: Because it doesn't really pose an issue, it presents a conclusion to an unknown problem."
(Bryan A. Garner, Garner on Language and Writing. American Bar Association, 2009)