Do you use IRAC in your exams?

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battle_tested
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Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby battle_tested » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:39 am

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Last edited by battle_tested on Sat Jan 21, 2012 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jjlaw
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby jjlaw » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:50 am

I hear mixed reviews about whether to use IRAC or not, but after learning it in LRW, I feel that it's the best way to organize my thoughts and answer on an exam. I wouldn't want to write any other way on the exam. It's just an easy way to organize your argument and subarguments, IMO. Instead of spending time thinking about how to organize what you want to say, if you just shove it all into a formula like IRAC, you can spend more brain power on the analysis.

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DrGuano
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby DrGuano » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:54 pm

I'ma 2L and have never used a formal IRAC. I try to stick to a basic - this is the rule, the rule operated this way in the other case, here's how it would operate in this case with these facts, so here's the outcome - but it's not that identifiably I - R - A - C. There's definitely some bleeding between all parts. While IRAC is a great thing to keep in mind, I think it's the most logical way to proceed when approaching an exam. We all probably come pretty close to it anyway.

Was Top 5% at a T30 for what it's worth.

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Grizz
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby Grizz » Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:57 pm

battle_tested wrote:Interestingly enough though, when I'm taking the exam I have more going on in my head than what actually ends up on paper. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Write all that down on paper. Srsly.

shock259
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby shock259 » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:22 pm

DrGuano wrote:I'ma 2L and have never used a formal IRAC. I try to stick to a basic - this is the rule, the rule operated this way in the other case, here's how it would operate in this case with these facts, so here's the outcome - but it's not that identifiably I - R - A - C. There's definitely some bleeding between all parts. While IRAC is a great thing to keep in mind, I think it's the most logical way to proceed when approaching an exam. We all probably come pretty close to it anyway.

Was Top 5% at a T30 for what it's worth.


This (although I'm a 1L without grades). I tend to do a quick BLL statement, then dive into the analysis, argue both sides, and pick a winner. The BLL statement implies the issue, and stating it directly is a waste of time. But some professors may get angry about not stating the issue. Cater it a bit.

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Redzo
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby Redzo » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:36 pm

Disclaimer: I haven't received any grades yet, so who knows if my advice is any good. However,

In general (and teachers obviously differ in their preferences), I don't think you should apply IRAC as a strict formulaic approach. But, I do think a good answer will have all of those elements in it somewhere. The thing is, as my torts teacher explained, following IRAC like a formula leads some people to focus too much on the I, R, and C, and not enough on the A, which, I am told, is where most of the points are.

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theavrock
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby theavrock » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:42 pm

I've used more of a loose CRAC.

IE:

A will claim contract should not be enforced because of fraud.

Fraud is ....

Y lied about X and induced A to sign contract. This constitues misrepresentation about a material fact and thus fraud.

Y will argue in response ...

This argument is weak/strong. Courts will likely find fraud.

I think saying the issue is makes it sound robotic, but you definitely need to identify where the conflict lies and show you know the rule and that you can apply the facts to that rule.
Last edited by theavrock on Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ben4847
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby ben4847 » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:42 pm

I don't do no IRAC.
I just say what I'm going to be talking about, and then talk about it.

So for example on a torts exam, I would write:

Bill crashing into Fred.
Duty- He probably had a duty because he was driving a car, and could foreseeably injure pedestrians.

And that's all. You can see exactly what I'm talking about, and I integrated the law into the analysis. ('m a 2L and do really well, btw)

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thesealocust
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby thesealocust » Tue Dec 20, 2011 5:38 pm

There's no reason to follow an IRAC or similar formula. All the points are in the 'A' in IRAC anyway on 90%+ of exams.

When your sentences say things like "____ could argue______" or "On the other hand, _____ could argue _____" or "Instead, if _____ applied______" you're doing it right and getting all of the points. If a sentence makes an argument yaey points. If it doesn't I hope you didn't waste a lot of time writing it.

ajr
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby ajr » Tue Dec 20, 2011 9:22 pm

The only place where I have found IRAC to really help is LRW.

smittytron3k
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby smittytron3k » Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:27 am

I think it's more useful for in-class exams, exams without word-limits, and heavily black-letter classes. By the same token, I think it's less useful for take-home exams (where you can come up with more persuasive ways to organize your analysis), exams with word limits (where you don't want to waste words on rule statements at the expense of analysis), and classes that are strongly policy-based or where the doctrine is inherently vague and indeterminate (conlaw, statutory interpretation, etc.)

Seminole_305
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby Seminole_305 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:15 am

I use HIRRACC.

Heading
Issue
Rule
-Sub-Rule
Analyst
Counter-Analyst
Conclusion

random5483
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby random5483 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 11:18 am

Yes, but I losely follow IRAC.


Issue = Heading.
Rule = Usually first sentence (or sentences) after heading.
Analysis = Follows rule.
Conclusion = End of each heading and at the very end.


I sometimes follow more of a ICRAC by putting my conclusion right after the heading. My exam IRACs are usually loosely followed because some questions don't follow a strict 1 issue/1 analysis pattern. However, most questions do and I find IRAC-type answer tends to help get the information out effectively.

As others have mentioned, most of the points are in the analysis section. The bulk of your essay should be the analysis. My rule statement often is in the same paragraph as my analysis.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 3:30 pm

Why would't you?

Its easy and clear, and best demonstrates your knowledge on a typical issue spotter exam. You aren't being graded on style, you are being graded on how many issues you spot, whether your rule was correct, and whether you properly applied the rule to the facts. It helps you organize your thoughts, and know when you are done with an issue and can move on.

Also, if you haven't noticed yet, but most court opinions more or less follow IRAC. Judge's list the facts, they highlight what issues are raised by the parties, they state the applicable rule, and apply the rule to the facts and conclude with a holding.

The fact that there is debate on this surprises me.

ben4847 wrote:I don't do no IRAC.
I just say what I'm going to be talking about, and then talk about it.

So for example on a torts exam, I would write:

Bill crashing into Fred.
Duty- He probably had a duty because he was driving a car, and could foreseeably injure pedestrians.

And that's all. You can see exactly what I'm talking about, and I integrated the law into the analysis. ('m a 2L and do really well, btw)



Um, what you did IS IRAC, just a muddled, less clear version. Issue - Duty. Rule - Duty to prevent foreseeable injury. Analysis - Driving a car creates a foreseeable risk of injury to pedestrians. Drivers of cars thus have a duty to avoid injuring pedestrians.

Then you move onto Breach.

Issue - Breach. Rule - Breach of a duty. Analysis - Bill had a duty not to hit Fred. Bill hit Fred. Bill Breached his duty.

All you did was make your analysis less clear by mixing facts into your rule statement, a huge no-no if you want your reader to understand what rule you are applying. If you got by that way, thats fine, but you would not have done worse if you followed traditional IRAC.

IRAC is easy, and it works. If you don't use it, you are gambling. You cannot go wrong following it, so why wouldn't you?

EDIT: You can break up something like Negligence into multiple IRACs. So if the issue is Negligence, the first sub-issue is Duty, Next sub-issue Breach, Next sub-issue causation, next sub-issue Damages, last sub-issue Defenses. You do a little IRAC for each sub-issue, and the prof can easily tell if you know what you're talking about.
Last edited by NotMyRealName09 on Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Wed Dec 21, 2011 3:40 pm

battle_tested wrote:I'm done with 3 of my exams, last one tomorrow. I felt decent about each of them, but after going over them, I feel like I'm not going deep enough into my exams. I know the BLL cold, and I'm pretty sure I'm addressing greater than 85% of the issues. I usually don't actually do a traditional rule statement before I do my analysis though, I'll go straight into analyzing the issue after stating the issue. It's making me worried that my statements are conclusory/not in depth enough. Interestingly enough though, when I'm taking the exam I have more going on in my head than what actually ends up on paper. Does anyone have any suggestions? Am I alright not to be getting a rule statement after each issue?


The rule statement is the LAW. You are in Law School. Your reader should not guess as to what rule you are applying. If you think the rule you are using is self-evident from your analysis, maybe it is, maybe it isn't. If I didn't see a rule statement, I'd smell a student who was bullshitting me because they didn't know the rule, or couldn't communicate it concisely. Why chance it? State the RULE.

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thesealocust
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby thesealocust » Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:34 pm

NotMyRealName09 wrote:
battle_tested wrote:I'm done with 3 of my exams, last one tomorrow. I felt decent about each of them, but after going over them, I feel like I'm not going deep enough into my exams. I know the BLL cold, and I'm pretty sure I'm addressing greater than 85% of the issues. I usually don't actually do a traditional rule statement before I do my analysis though, I'll go straight into analyzing the issue after stating the issue. It's making me worried that my statements are conclusory/not in depth enough. Interestingly enough though, when I'm taking the exam I have more going on in my head than what actually ends up on paper. Does anyone have any suggestions? Am I alright not to be getting a rule statement after each issue?


The rule statement is the LAW. You are in Law School. Your reader should not guess as to what rule you are applying. If you think the rule you are using is self-evident from your analysis, maybe it is, maybe it isn't. If I didn't see a rule statement, I'd smell a student who was bullshitting me because they didn't know the rule, or couldn't communicate it concisely. Why chance it? State the RULE.


This is really just semantics. It's impossible to do proper analysis without it being crystal clear what rule you're applying, it's just that in an exam setting consciously doing IRAC (or a variation) can be less efficient. Plenty of people have don't plenty well on plenty of exams without using IRAC or making explicit 'rule statements' so it's certainly too much to say it signals bullshitting or shaky knowledge.

Having said that, there's nothing inherently wrong with IRAC except that some might use it as a crutch or allocate more time to I/R/C than is optimal.

memo2partner
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby memo2partner » Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:40 pm

I think that IRAC is good to use in your exams. But, I don't think you have to spend a ton of time making sure the answer is exactly in IRAC form--you could have the conclusion first rather than the issue, or maybe the rule first--as long as you have all the components somewhere in your answer, you should be good.

Miznitic
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby Miznitic » Wed Dec 21, 2011 9:03 pm

I've gone with the following approach, generally. It has worked well enough so far.

Introduction(very-brief)
-issue
--RAC/CounterA/CCA
-issue
--RAC/CounterA/CCA
-issue
--RAC/CounterA/CCA
Conclusion(not exactly a conclusion, more of a "may")

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alicrimson
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby alicrimson » Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:53 pm

shock259 wrote:
DrGuano wrote:I'ma 2L and have never used a formal IRAC. I try to stick to a basic - this is the rule, the rule operated this way in the other case, here's how it would operate in this case with these facts, so here's the outcome - but it's not that identifiably I - R - A - C. There's definitely some bleeding between all parts. While IRAC is a great thing to keep in mind, I think it's the most logical way to proceed when approaching an exam. We all probably come pretty close to it anyway.

Was Top 5% at a T30 for what it's worth.


This (although I'm a 1L without grades). I tend to do a quick BLL statement, then dive into the analysis, argue both sides, and pick a winner. The BLL statement implies the issue, and stating it directly is a waste of time. But some professors may get angry about not stating the issue. Cater it a bit.


I do variations of this depending on the prof. I had one who loves the IRAC but wants "charges that can be brought" rather than a full fledged conclusion. I have another who doesn't want a rule statement but wants analysis that pretty much follows the BLL structure (strict word limit clown). The last prof doesn't want a conclusion. Just of IRAs and forks based on potential outcomes. He just wants a bunch of arguments. For him, I used a bunch of questions as headings because that's what I saw on nine of his grading rubrics for practice exams. I feel this system along with tailoring to your teacher, is the best because it allows the prof to understand what you're saying without tons of digging. I think of it this way, if I were grading 100 papers all talking about relatively the same thing, I would probably give the better grades to students who are clear and easy to understand (assuming content is the same or very similar). I am also a 1L with no grades so I may not be the best IRAC opinion on the block.

TheGreatFish
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby TheGreatFish » Fri Dec 23, 2011 9:10 am

Definitely IRAC. It's easy and it keeps your answers organized. It's possible to write a complete, well organized answer without IRAC, but law school's prefer it and professors are already familiar with it. If you don't IRAC, you're taking a chance, but if you stick to it, it's hard to go wrong.

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thesealocust
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby thesealocust » Fri Dec 23, 2011 1:20 pm

TheGreatFish wrote:Definitely IRAC. It's easy and it keeps your answers organized. It's possible to write a complete, well organized answer without IRAC, but law school's prefer it and professors are already familiar with it. If you don't IRAC, you're taking a chance, but if you stick to it, it's hard to go wrong.


This is simply false. IRAC is a creature of legal research and writing courses, which hire distinct faculty and teach distinct concepts. IRAC isn't close to gospel amongst academic faculty.

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Redzo
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby Redzo » Fri Dec 23, 2011 4:08 pm

thesealocust wrote:
TheGreatFish wrote:Definitely IRAC. It's easy and it keeps your answers organized. It's possible to write a complete, well organized answer without IRAC, but law school's prefer it and professors are already familiar with it. If you don't IRAC, you're taking a chance, but if you stick to it, it's hard to go wrong.


This is simply false. IRAC is a creature of legal research and writing courses, which hire distinct faculty and teach distinct concepts. IRAC isn't close to gospel amongst academic faculty.


I don't know, several of my professors told us that the methods that we are learning in legal writing are also more or less the proper way to approach an exam, with some minor adjustments.

To reiterate what I said earlier, I think a good exam answer should contain all the elements of IRAC somewhere, but not stick to a rigid format or focus overly much on the I, R, or C.

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kalvano
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby kalvano » Fri Dec 23, 2011 4:23 pm

Everyone uses some basic form of IRAC for exams. It's not really possible to write a good exam answer without saying "Here is the issue, and here is the law that applies...using the given facts, X will argue....Y will argue....but then X will counter with....and Y will say.....ultimately, that seems like a weak / good argument, and the court will probably find...."

However you choose to organize that framework is up to you. I like a lot of headings, a short paragraph about what rule / cases apply, then onto analysis. If you wanted to actually break it up on the exam and put Issue = , Rule = , etc., I doubt you would get dinged for that. In fact, you'll probably do better if you organize it that way.

Whatever system you use isn't the key. The key is coherent organization that allows you to analyze as much as possible within the given time frame.


But, professors vary. My Contracts professor during 1L was big on stating the rules each and every time, even if they were blatantly obvious. You lost points for not doing so. I'm a big believer in writing out a sample answer to sample exam question given by the professor, and then meeting with the professor one-on-one to go over the answer. Every class I have done this in, I have done well in that class. The professors typically aren't shy about telling you what they like and don't like to see on exam answers, and you'll be able to more narrowly tailor your answers to their preferences that way.

morris248
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby morris248 » Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:17 pm

I'm a big believer in writing out a sample answer to sample exam question given by the professor, and then meeting with the professor one-on-one to go over the answer. Every class I have done this in, I have done well in that class. The professors typically aren't shy about telling you what they like and don't like to see on exam answers, and you'll be able to more narrowly tailor your answers to their preferences that way.


Absolutely!!! Most professors have a stack of hypos that they will share individually with you if you take the time and effort to ask. Then meet with the professor and get him to critique your model answer and the way you organize the issues. This will give you an insight into how the professor grades and allow you to tailor your exam answers in that course. Law school exams are a game and you have to learn how to play.

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D'Angelo
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Re: Do you use IRAC in your exams?

Postby D'Angelo » Sat Dec 24, 2011 6:10 pm

our TAs told us not to worry about IRAC if you have a good way to organize it on the page...


all the professor model answers we had were not very IRACy




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