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Legal problem solving: IRAC

Legal problem solving: IRAC

What is IRAC?

Legal problem solving is an essential skill for the study and practice of law. There are a number of legal problem solving models, with the most popular being IRAC (Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion) and  MIRAT (Material facts, Issue, Rule/Resources, Arguments, Tentative conclusion).

Read more about MIRAT in this article Meet MIRAT: Legal Reasoning Fragmented into Learnable chunks

We will focus on the IRAC model in this guide, but note that there can be flexibility in the use of the models.

The IRAC methodology is useful to help you organise your legal analysis so that the reader can follow your argument. It is particularly helpful in writing exam answers and legal memos

The MIRAT model starts with Material facts. This is an essential first step in the process and is a precursor to following the IRAC model.

Facts

  • Before you state the legal issues, it is important to identify the facts you have been provided with, determining which ones are relevant, which are clearly not relevant, and which ones may become relevant once the rules are identified.
  • It is from the facts that the issues can be identified.
  • The facts and issues lead to the identification of the most appropriate rules, and the rules then determine the most useful way of construing the facts. 

Example:

Let's take the example of Matthew, a 50-year old independent contractor from Victoria who has been engaged for some work by X Pty Ltd (a company). Matthew attends a number of staff meetings as well as a training course provided by the company. Do the terms of the contract referring to an 'employee' apply to him even as a contractor? 

Relevant facts here are:

  • Matthew is an independent contractor.
  • He has an employment contract with company X Pty Ltd.
  • He has attended some company staff meetings and a training course.
  • The jurisdiction of Victoria may also be relevant.
  • It is unlikely that Matthew's age would be a relevant fact.

 

Tips:

  • Think about questions that involve: Who, What, How, Where, and When.
  • Is there any missing information?