The IRAC is a four part writing method consisting of an Issue section, Rule Section, Application section, and Conclusion section. While this system may seem rigid, there is some room for flexibility which is sometimes needed in order to produce a readable answer. As for now, though, we will begin with a basic outline of an IRAC, below.
Issue: State the legal issue(s) to be discussed.
Rule: State the relevant statutes and case law.
Application: Apply the relevant rules to the facts that created the issue.
Conclusion: State the most likely conclusions using the logic of the application section. Don’t forget to include any alternative outcomes created by ambiguities in the relevant facts and rules.
Most fact patterns that you will see throughout law school, and in life, will contain many different legal issues. While you could write multiple IRACs for multiple issues, the result will often be more readable and efficient (ie good for timed exams) if you combine intertwined issues into one mega-IRAC.
Note: You will see that I use the Issue section as an Umbrella section in the example below. I believe this helps the reader digest the subsequent information, but some disagree with me on that point and simply state the legal issues alone.
Example Multiple-Issue IRAC
Under generic state law, Lucy is guilty of leaving the scene of an accident, but is likely justified in doing so due to the nature of the injury she sustained.
Under Public Act 9.98 “it is illegal for any involved party to leave the scene of a vehicular accident before police arrive”; Smith v. Smith held that “an involved party is defined as any person driving or riding in a vehicle involved in an accident”.
Public Act 9.99 states that “an involved party is justified in leaving an accident if seeking immediate & necessary medical treatment”. Another case, Jones v. Jones, states that “necessary medical treatment is any treatment that a reasonable person would deem necessary”.
Lucy was driving a car down a rural road and impacted another vehicle which was exiting a driveway. Lucy suffered a sprained wrist that developed severe swelling. A passerby drove Lucy to the nearest hospital before any police arrived on scene.
Because Lucy was driving a car that was involved in an accident, she is an “involved party” under under Smith v. Smith. Because she is an involved party and left the scene of the accident prior to police arriving, she meets the elements of PA9.98 and is likely guilty unless her actions are justified under PA9.99.
It is arguable that immediate medical treatment was not necessary for Lucy’s sprained wrist, thus she would not be justified in leaving the scene under PA9.99. Because Lucy’s wrist experienced severe swelling, she has a strong argument that she reasonably believed that her injuries were much worse than a sprain, and thus she was justified in leaving the scene under Jones v. Jones.
Although Lucy meets all elements of PA9.98, leaving the scene of an accident, she will likely be deemed justified in leaving that scene due to the severe appearance of her injuries. If the court does not accept her argument, that she reasonably believed medical treatment was immediately necessary, she will be found guilty.