As always, if you are assigned to write an IRAC, it should contain seperate sections for your Issues, Rules, Application of the rules to the facts, and your Conclusion. I am no the biggest fan of the traditional IRAC method, but if you are required to write one, it is best that you follow the tradition. The outline that follows is a traditional IRAC. However, note that I place the facts in the Issue section; some people may prefer to put the facts only in the Application section, but I feel that the reader has a better experience when they have an idea of what is being discussed from the very beginning.



Where you state the legal question and any facts that affect that question.

State the the legal question. Does the fact pattern contain elements of theft, breach of contract, or 4th amendment violations (for example)? This is why it is important to study all assignments and your outlines, knowing the elements of legal questions is half the battle when issue spotting on final exams, and especially the bar exam where you won't know which field(s) of law a given question will be covering.

State the facts that give rise to the legal question - What facts prove or disprove the elements of the legal question? 

State your conclusion - At the end of the issue paragraph, briefly tell your reader what your conclusion will be and why so that they can better follow your analysis. Often times, your conclusion may change somewhat or even change completely after a thorough analysis of the facts and rules, so if this is a timed exam, leave room here to edit your conclusion at the end of your analysis, just in case.


Example Issue Section:

         Based on the facts at hand, D cannot be charged with the theft of the police car because it is not proven that he took it or that he intended to retain possession of it. The car was stolen from the parking lot of Dunkin Doh'nuts between 9:00pm and 10:00pm on October 21st. Officer Strudel states that the squad car was found parked in front of D's house, amongst other parked cars along the curb at 8:00am the next morning. D's fingerprints were found on the exterior of the rear passenger window. At 8:10am that morning, D was found laying in his front yard, asleep. D claims that he had no knowledge of the squad car and that he was drinking with friends until 9:30pm the night before, which was corroborated by his friend's testimony. Based on these facts D cannot be charged with theft of the car.




State all rules of law that affect the legal question at hand

Applicable Legislation - What laws affect this legal question in this jurisdiction? State them.

Court cases - what court cases apply directly to the legal question?

Supreme Court- If there are supreme court holdings that affect your question of law, you must mention them because they are the strongest rules of law.

Local Courts - Court holdings from the jurisdiction in questions are the second strongest rule of law and must be mentioned.

Other Jursidiction's holdings - If your jurisdictions holdings are nonexistent on the issue or leave room for interpretation, mention other jurisdictions holdings because they could be persuasive to the local court's decision

Conflict of Law - Does the legal question span multiple jurisdictions. Did the act cross state lines or are the parties from different states? If so, there may be the option to transplant another jurisdiction's law (Federal or State) into the current venue. If you don't know the choice of law rules, you should at least mention the conflict of law issue in hopes of getting points.


 Example Rule Section:

         State Law 1 requires that a charge of theft must meet four elements, (1) that an item of value, (2) has been taken, (2) by someone who does not own that item, (4) with intent to retain possession of that item. Court Holding 1 states that an intent to retain possession can be proven simply by storing the item in question on one's property. Other state's Court Holding states that an intent to retain possession can be proven by using the item in question as a reasonable person would use a similar item. Court Holding 2 states that an item of value is anything with monetary or sentimental value. 




Apply the rules to the facts

         Apply each rule of law to each relevant fact and state whether that application favors or disfavors the legal question. Don't skip any facts or only rules of law, even if it hurts your proposed conclusion. Not all answers will be black and white, and you should incorporate any grey areas into your conclusion so that your professor knows that you see them and are't letting your bias get in the way of objective reasoning.


         Example Application Section:

         Regarding the issue of D's accused theft of the squad car, State Law 1 requires four elements must be met in order to convict him of theft: (1)That the squad car is an item of value, (2) that it was taken by D, (3) that D does not own the car (4) and that D intended to keep possession of the car. Regarding element (1) and (3), on the value and ownership of the car, there are no facts on point but the car certainly has some monetary value (Court Holding 2), and it is certain that the city (not D) owns the car, thus these elements are met.


         Element 2, though, has not been met because there are no facts that point directly to D taking the squad car. The state will argue that D's fingerprint's on the rear passenger window prove that he has knowledge of the car and that he was lying when he stated that he didn't, in an attempt to cover up his taking of the car; but this is not proof of such taking. D can claim that his inebriated state, illustrated by his drinking and passing out in his front yard, led him to not remember passing or leaning on the car while entering his yard, resulting in his fingerprints on the window. Unless D's fingerprints can be found inside the car, or a witness is provided, it is unlikely that it can be proven that he took the car.


         Regarding element 4, it is uncertain whether intent to retain possession could be proven even if D is proven to have taken the car. Under Court Holding 1, D did not have an intent to retain possession of the car because he did not store the car upon his property. But, the state could argue that Other State's Court Holding is more on point, and that D did have an intent to retain possession based on his parking of the car in front of his house, just like every other person on his street who parks their car on the road has an intent to retain possession of their own car. Based on these arguments, it is uncertain how the court would rule on D's intent to retain possession.




State the results of the application section

         State your conclusion based on the application of the rules of law to the facts. Give a brief overview of why this conclusion is correct, and if there are any grey areas tell your professor why. For example, if a charge of manslaughter is likely, but there are omissions in the fact pattern that could easily turn the charge into murder or nothing at all, mention them.


Example Conclusion: 

         It is highly unlikely that D can be convicted of theft. It has not been proven that D actually took the squad car, or even entered the car, thus eliminating a necessary element of theft in this jurisdiction. Even if it can be proven that D took the car, the court would have to be convinced to follow the court holding from another state in order to prove D's intent to retain possession of the car. Because if this, D cannot be convicted of theft as the facts stand now.


If you would like to see a more basic example of an IRAC, you can view A Skeleton Outline of an IRAC.