IRAC and CRRACC

IRAC is the acronym for Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion. These words represent the stages of the most commonly accepted way to organize a written legal analysis: first, articulate an important legal issue or question; next, state and explain the relevant legal rule; next, apply the rule to your facts; finally, conclude by explicitly answering the question or taking a position on the issue. IRAC is the most popular form of organization because it is usually the one that makes it easiest for the reader to follow your analysis. Following the IRAC structure will provide a framework around which to organize your writing, thus making your discussion easier to write (and read).

CRRACC is an elaborated form of IRAC: Conclusion, Rule, Rule Proof, Application, Counterargument, Conclusion. The RR reminds you to state the relevant legal Rule as you have synthesized it from the sources of legal authority (i.e., constitutions, statutes, regulations, and decisional or common law), and then support this rule statement with some organized explanation and discussion of the legal authority upon which the rule statement is based (i.e., the Rule Proof). The CC reminds you to raise important Counterarguments, i.e., contrary approaches to the way you have synthesized the rule or applied the rule to your facts, before stating your Conclusion.

To reiterate, as a legal writer, you will be presented with a set of facts and will be expected to answer legal questions about them in either a predictive or a persuasive voice (unless your task is to draft legislation, a will, or an agreement, which involves a different set of writing, analytic, and planning skills that are beyond the scope of this discussion). As a law student, sometimes you will be asked to write something that addresses a narrow range of issues (e.g., a short memo); sometimes you will be asked to spot all the legal issues you can and then address them (e.g., an answer to one kind of exam question). Larger legal questions can usually be broken down into a series of smaller ones, such that you can break off each component sub-question in turn, “IRAC” it, dispose of it, and then turn your full attention to the next sub-question. As you tease apart the sub-questions, you must define and organize them in a way that covers all the relevant legal rules and also makes it easy for the reader to follow. A good legal analysis of a set of facts is usually structured as a series of IRAC (or CRRACC) units.

Finally, try to remember that the IRAC structure is a guideline, and that all of the comments in this document are also guidelines. They exist to help you reason in a more orderly way and to allow that reasoning to be as understandable and accessible to your reader as possible. If you feel as though the application of one of these guidelines would create obscurity or confusion in your writing, then do not apply it; at times it may be preferable to modify slightly this suggested structure. Your goal is to reason in a deep and well-organized way, and to write so as to convey your reasoning clearly. Your use of IRAC should be in service of these goals.