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WHAT IS IRAC?

Prepared by Dean Garrison for TMSL ASP Website, June 24, 2011 Taken in Part from LSAC Topical Workshop 2008

Lawyers speak in structure, always stating their authority first. IRAC is simply one of the vehicles used to keep students on tract when writing an essay. Later you will hear about CRAC, and C(I)RAC - don't get frustrated, they are all basically the same and merely are tools to help you learn to properly analyze a situation. Lets begin with IRAC, which stands for Issue, Rule, Application (or Analysis), and Conclusion. Every effective essays follow some form of structure. All are organized around these elements for each and every issue and sub-issue identified as a legal problem. IRAC is an extremely useful tool in organizing any law related essay answer. It is not the only way to structure an answer, but it helps to make sure all bases are covered. So, until you achieve the level of mental and written fluency where you can weave together rule and fact in a seamless tapestry and transition between thoughts without loss of either the substance or your reader, you might choose to rely on some form of IRAC to keep focused. Use IRAC as tool for organizing your thinking and your writing. Think of it as a weaving loom that is there only to support the threads of your argument, while you weave and create an intricately beautiful piece of fabric, i.e. a complete, logical argument. Soon, the process will become automatic and you will rely less and less on the loom. Until then, you have something you can rely on to guide you through the process. HOW TO IRAC 1. State the issue The issue is the most important element in the analysis and must be stated in a way to show what is in controversy. The legal question weaves together the rule and the facts particular to the problem you identified. Articulate the issue by creating the legal question presented by the facts. To find the issue, ask: what is in controversy in these facts. (Of course you need to know the law to find a legal question in the facts.) Use the whether, when structure to help you isolate and write an issue statement. Some professors might not want to see this particular language the issue is whether. You achieve the same result with other words Did or Can. Dont get fixated on language. Follow your professors instruction, either way you achieve the same result: identification of the legal problem. You should always use the following language to guide your thought process: The issue is whether, . . . then identify and state the legal conclusion you want the court to reach . . . Don committed a battery, (or an offer was made, or the court can assert personal jurisdiction) . . . and connect to the relevant facts (the relevant facts being those facts which impact the outcome) . . . when he pushed Pam even though he knew she was in no danger of being hit by the bicyclist (or when he said, would you buy my watch for $500 in cash next Tuesday? or when the defendant conducted business in the forum state, had an office and a full-time staff, and paid state taxes). When completed, the sentence will read: The issue is whether Don committed a

battery when he pushed Pam even though he knew she was in no danger of being hit by the bicyclist. 2. State the law After you have the issue, you must articulate the rule. The rule and the facts are inextricably linked. Your analysis of the facts will not make sense unless you have first identified the rule which determines the legal meaning to be attributed to those facts. Use building blocks for writing the rule of law, consider: Elements Definitions Exceptions to the general rule Limitations to the rule Defenses When writing, follow a hierarchy of concepts by: Moving from the general to the specific Defining each legal term of art Identify: The consequences of applying the rule what will happen? What are the consequences of this rule in this situation? Which leads you to consider: What does application of the rule mean here? What will be its effect? 3. Analyze the facts in light of the law The analysis or application is the heart of the discussion and sometimes works better combined with the rule. It is where you examine the issues raised by the facts in light of the rule. Your statement of the rule will drive your organization of the analysis. You simply match up each element you have identified in the rule (in order) with a fact, using the word because to make the connection between rule and fact. Because is the single most important word to use when writing the analysis. Using the word because forces you to make the connection between rule and fact. Also make use of the words as and since they serve the same function as because and sometimes will sound less redundant when used in the same paragraph as because. 4. Conclusion Conclude each issue before drawing your final overall conclusion. There is no right or wrong answer, only logical analysis based on the rule and the facts which lead to a reasonable conclusion. Note: Repeat the process for each issue you identify each issue forms the basis for a separate IRAC analysis.

INCOMPLETE V. GOOD ANALYSIS EXAMPLE 1: Incomplete Analysis: In this case, while Pete the police officer was giving Dan a sobriety test, he noticed that Dan fit the description of an eyewitness to the robbery, giving the police officer probable cause to arrest Dan. Good Analysis: Here, Pete the police officer realized that Dan fit the description of the suspect, providing probable cause for arrest, because Dan was extremely tall at 64, was wearing a green and tan sweater with purple patches and pointy-toed alligator cowboy boots, fitting the description provided by the eyewitness to the robbery. EXAMPLE 2: Incomplete Analysis: ABC Inc. engaged Dr. Jones to develop a drug that reduced hair loss. Dr. Jones worked in his own laboratory, hired and fired his own assistants and set their working hours as well as his own. He meets with the President of ABC every Friday morning to discuss progress on the project, and at this time, Dr. Jones submits his timesheet for payment. The President pays Dr. Jones weekly. Good Analysis: Here, Dr. Jones can be considered an independent consultant for ABC Inc. because he completes all the research and development work in his own laboratory, in a separate facility from that of ABC, where he has direct control over the employees because he hired his own assistants, setting their work hours. He also exercises direct control over his own work because he sets his own work hours and only meets with ABC once a week. Further, since he only meets with the President of ABC on a weekly basis to discuss progress on development of the hair loss product, the President does not supervise Dr. Jones on a daily basis as to the work which goes on in the laboratory.

Sample IRAC Exercise


Prepared by Dean Garrison for TMSL Academic Support Website, Adapted from TMSL Enrichment session conducted by E. Marie Jamison (2008)

Use the statutory and case law given, answer the Sample Question using the IRAC template. Statutory Law: Tex. Fam. Code 150.001: It is a rebuttable presumption that the appointment of the parents of a child as joint managing conservator is in the best interest of the child. Tex. Fam. Code 150.002: A finding of a history of family violence involving the parents of a child removes the presumption under section 150.001. Tex. Fam. Code 150.003: Appointment under section 150.001 is not in the best interest of the child, if such appointment would significantly impair the childs physical health or emotional development. Case Law: Smith v. Smith. In determining whether appointment of a parent is in the best interest of a child under section 150.001, it is not adequate to offer evidence that a nonparent would be a better custodian. Sample Question: Husband and wife were married in 2000 and had two children during the marriage. Prior to the marriage, Husband was convicted, as a juvenile, for shoplifting. Wife led a promiscuous lifestyle prior to the marriage and continued to do so during the marriage. Wife battled drug addiction and suffered from depression and hallucinations. Due to her drug abuse and emotional/mental illnesses, Husband decided to separate from Wife after eight years of marriage. Upon their separation, Husband and Wife left the two children with the maternal grandparents in Dallas for six weeks. During this six weeks, Husband returned to Houston to find adequate housing for the children and filed for divorce against Wife. Husband then returned to Dallas to get the children back. The grandparents, however, refused to return children and sought custody of the children. Wife also sought custody of the children. Husband currently lives in a three bedroom townhome and is working on a temporary construction job. He maintains health insurance on the children and travels to Dallas every two weeks to visit with the children. Wife lives with her current boyfriend who admittedly subjected Wife to verbal and physical abuse in the past. Wife was diagnosed with severe depressive disorder and psychotic features six months ago, but refuses to take her recommended medication. She has been out of work for four months, but intends to go back to school for her nursing certificate. Wife insists that she has stopped using drugs and can provide a stable home for the children. The grandparents live in a five bedroom house in Dallas. They are more than financially able to care

for both children and have even started a college fund for them. They have no criminal history or previous drug use. Of the three parties, Husband, Wife and the maternal grandparents, who should be awarded managing conservatorship (custody) of the children.

IRAC ANSWER Issue Rule


Whether the Best Interest of Child Custody presumption is rebuttable in regards to a fathers previous criminal record, a mothers current drug and alcohol abuse, a current situation of abuse by a nonparent, or a grandparents ability to offer a better life financially. Under The Texas Family Code, joint custody of a child by both parents is presumed to be in the best interest of that child (Sec. 150.001) unless (1) there is a finding of abuse by either parent (Sec. 150.002), or (2) if joint custody would significantly impair the childs physical health or emotional development (Sec. 150.003). In determining whether appointment of a parent is in the best interest of child, it is not adequate to offer that a nonparent (here, grandparent) would be a better custodian. Husband will be a presumed a fit parent unless successfully rebutted and should be appointed as managing conservator of the children. His only flaw seems to be as a juvenile shoplifter and appears to be too remote to be considered 8-10 years after the fact. The Husband demonstrated he was a committed caring father by taking his children out of an abusive situation and securing a 3 bedroom townhouse in which to care for them. Wife was originally presumed fit; however, this presumption will be easily rebutted by showing her alcohol/drug abuse and by the fact that she is permitting her children to live in a house where she is being abused. This finding of family violence under Sec. 150.002 will be sufficient to overcome the initial presumption. The maternal Grandparents will probably not be awarded custody only, if the grandparents can convince the court that the father is unfit because he allowed his children to be subjected to his unfit Wifes care for eight years prior to leaving her do the Grandparents have any possible case. Their apparent wealth and ability to support the children is not enough legally to overcome the presumption that the fathers care is in the best interest of the child. The father will also point out that their tract record is not good they raised a daughter that is promiscuous and a drug abuser.

Analysis

Conclusion

The father will prevail because of his paternity coupled with his continuing efforts to be a father. Wife will not prevail because of her continuing issues, and grandparents will not prevail because their wealth will not be adequate to overcome the fathers best interest of the child presumption.

SAMPLE ESSAY Whether the Best Interest of Child Custody presumption is rebuttable in regards to a fathers previous criminal record, a mothers current drug and alcohol abuse, a current situation of abuse by a nonparent, or a grandparents ability to offer a better life financially. Under The Texas Family Code, joint custody of a child by both parents is presumed to be in the best interest of that child (Sec. 150.001) unless (1) there is a finding of abuse by either parent (Sec. 150.002), or (2) if joint custody would significantly impair the childs physical health or emotional development (Sec. 150.003). In determining whether appointment of a parent is in the best interest of child, it is not adequate to offer that a nonparent (here, grandparent) would be a better custodian. Here, Husband will be a presumed a fit parent unless successfully rebutted and should be appointed as managing conservator of the children. His only flaw seems to be as a juvenile shoplifter and appears to be too remote to be considered 8-10 years after the fact. The Husband demonstrated he was a committed caring father by taking his children out of an abusive situation and securing a 3 bedroom townhouse in which to care for them. Wife was originally presumed fit; however, this presumption will be easily rebutted by showing her alcohol/drug abuse and by the fact that she is permitting her children to live in a house where she is being abused. This finding of family violence under Sec. 150.002 will be sufficient to overcome the initial presumption. The maternal Grandparents will probably not be awarded custody only, if the grandparents can convince the court that the father is unfit because he allowed his children to be subjected to his unfit Wifes care for eight years prior to leaving her do the Grandparents have any possible case. Their apparent wealth and ability to support the children is not enough legally to overcome the presumption that the fathers care is in the best interest of the child. The father will also point out that their tract record is not good they raised a daughter that is promiscuous and a drug abuser. The father will prevail because of his paternity coupled with his continuing efforts to be a father. Wife will not prevail because of her continuing issues, and grandparents will not prevail because their wealth will not be adequate to overcome the fathers best interest of the child presumption.