Structure of the IRAC Method
The IRAC method is a framework for organizing your answer to a business law essay question. The basic structure is: Issue, Rule, Analysis. Using this simple framework for structuring your answer will ensure that you have written a complete answer.
Issue - Begin your answer by stating the issue presented by the essay question.
Sometimes the question will provide the issue for you. If not, then ask: What is the legal question that, when answered, determines the result of the case? The issue should be stated in the form of a question in a specific, rather than general form: “Is there an agency relationship if there was no compensation paid?” would be an acceptable issue. “Will the plaintiff win?” would not be acceptable.
Note that the issue may be case specific, mentioning the parties’ names and specific facts of the case. Example: “Did Jones have an agency relationship with XYZ Corp. due to his acting on behalf of XYZ and following its instructions?” The issue can encompass all cases which present a similar question. Example: “Is an agency created whenever there is an employment relationship?” Most cases present one issue. If there is more than one issue to address, then you must write a separate IRAC analysis for each issue.
Rule - The rule describes which law or test applies to the issue. The rule should be stated as a general principal, and not a conclusion to the particular case being briefed. Example: “An agency relationship is created when there is an agreement that the agent will act for the benefit of the principal at the principal’s direction or control regardless of whether compensation is paid” would be an acceptable rule.
“The plaintiff was the defendant’s agent” would not be an acceptable rule. Do not use parties’ names or specific facts from the case. Hint: Frequently, the rule will be the definition of the principle of law applicable in the case. Example: An agent may not use or disclose confidential information acquired through the agency absent an agreement to the contrary.
Analysis The analysis is the most important, and the longest, part of your answer. It involves applying the Rule to the facts of the problem or question.
You should use the facts to explain how the rule leads to the conclusion. Discuss both sides of the case when possible. Important: Do not merely state a conclusion without also stating reasons for it. A conclusion without reasons or explanation means that you have not used the rule and the facts to analyze the issue. Hint: The rule can be used as a guide in your discussion.
Example: Suppose the issue is whether A is an independent contractor. Using the facts of the case, explain whether or not they fit into the definition of what is an independent contractor: “In this case, A was told by the foreman what to wear, how to operate the machine, and when to report to work each day, giving her little control over the job.” If the rule is a test with multiple factors, then you must analyze each factor by pointing out how the facts do (or do not) fulfill each factor.