# Using Formulas to Help Students Master the “R” and “A” of IRAC Professors Hollee S Temple and Grace J Wigal West Virginia University College of Law 2006 Legal Writing Inst

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```					     Using Formulas to
Help Students Master
the “R” and “A” of IRAC

Professors Hollee S. Temple and Grace J. Wigal
West Virginia University College of Law

2006 Legal Writing Institute Conference
Atlanta, Georgia
A Tale of Two Teachers…
Today’s Discussion
I. Goals for First-Year Students

II. Types of Legal Reasoning
a. Deductive (IRAC)
b. Inductive (R of IRAC)
c. Analogical (A of IRAC)

III. Formulas to Help Students
Gain Competency in
Reasoning and Writing
Part A: Presentation Formulas
Part B: Analytical Formulas
Goals for First-Year Course
• Professional competence in legal reasoning

• Professional competence in legal research

• Professional competence in legal writing

• Professional persona in legal workplace
Types of Legal Reasoning

• Deductive Reasoning

• Inductive Reasoning

• Analogical Reasoning
Why Use Formulas?
• Our students need help entering this new
“discourse community”
• The “Google generation” likes formulas
• Past teachers have stressed content over
form
• Just like in sports, we have to get students
into the right ballpark before they can be
expected to develop expertise and finesse
Types of Formulas for
Today’s Discussion
• Presentation Formulas

• Analytical Formulas
Presentation Formula #1: IRAC
The Basics
• A formula for thinking about and
presenting an ultimate legal conclusion
• Presents a form of reasoning expected by
the trained legal mind
• This is the “big” formula
IRAC Embraces
Deductive Reasoning

Issue                            Question

Rule                              Major
Premise
Analysis
Minor
Conclusion                         Premise
Conclusion
Deductive Reasoning Example

Question: Is Socrates mortal?
Let’s reason through it.
Major Premise (learned rule through
observation): All men are mortal.
Minor Premise (factual conclusion):
Socrates is a man.
Conclusion: Socrates is mortal because all
men are mortal, and Socrates is a man.
Presentation Formula #1: IRAC
IRAC Outline
Big I/C: Greenbrier will succeed in her
negligence action because by failing to
proximately caused her injury.
Big R: Negligence = 1) Duty + 2) Breach +
3) Causation + 4) Injury
Big A: “Nested” IRACs on each element
Requires I-R-A-C analysis for
each element of the Big R
Big C:     Greenbrier can satisfy all
four elements, so she wins!
Presentation Formula #2: The Big A
“Nested” IRACs
1) Duty        3) Causation
I/C             I/C
R                R
A
A
C/A
C
C
2) Breach      4) Damages
I/C             I/C
R                R
A                A
C
C
Techniques to Help Students Master
The Presentation Formulas

Emphasize structure!
1) Use colors to differentiate I-R-A-C
(Mary Beth Beazley’s brilliant idea)
1) Color-Code With IRAC
Mrs. Greenbrier will prove that Potomac
owed her a legal duty because Potomac was
responsible for keeping common areas of the
building safe. A landlord’s duty is to exercise
“reasonable care” to protect invitees from
unreasonable risks caused by dangerous
conditions in common areas. Butler. Here, Mrs.
Greenbrier was rightfully in the elevator, a
common area of the building, at the time of the
incident. Just as the landlord in Butler owed the
plaintiff a legal duty to protect her from an
unsecured post in the rear porch, Potomac owed
Mrs. Greenbrier a duty of “reasonable care” to
protect her from “unreasonable risk of harm” in
the elevator. Therefore, Mrs. Greenbrier
satisfies the duty element.
2)Sheila Simon’s IRAC Recipe
IRAC is like a lasagna.
www.law.siu.edu/ssimon/lasagna
Diners expect (and enjoy) a
particular structure.
Give the diners the
structure they expect,
and everyone is happy.
Don’t mess with a good structure!
If you change the structure,
you confuse the diner.
Avoid the blender!
Techniques to Help Students Master
The Presentation Formulas
3) Use peer critiques

4) Music examples

When all else
fails,
keep showing the
blender!
Analytical Formulas

• Formulas to help students reason through
and write about the sub-parts of IRAC

– Formulas for the R section

– Formulas for the A section
Formulas for the R of IRAC
Formula #1: Simple Rule
• R=            Simple Rule + (maybe)
Case Illustration
Section 61-8-9(a) of the West Virginia Code provides: (a)
A person is guilty of indecent exposure when such person
intentionally exposes his or her sex organs … and does so under
circumstances in which the person knows that the conduct is likely
to cause affront or alarm. W. Va. Code.
For example, in Randall, the defendant exposed his
genitals several times to an eleven-year-old boy. Because
“persons of reasonable intelligence” could conclude that the
defendant’s conduct would cause affront or alarm, the court held
that the defendant’s conduct constituted indecent exposure.
Formulas for the R of IRAC

Formula #2: Complex Rule

• R=      Rule Synthesis +
Case Illustrations
Formulas for the R of IRAC

• Rule Synthesis/Inductive Reasoning

Synthesized
Rule

Particular 1
Particular 2
Particular 3

Ingredients
Formulas for the R of IRAC

Formula #3: Rule Synthesis

Synthesis =
1) What is the rule?
2) What isn’t the rule (exceptions)?
3) Which factors will the Court
consider?
Example A: Strong Rule Synthesis
Landlords have a duty to exercise reasonable
care to protect invitees from foreseeable risks of
harm, including foreseeable criminal acts of third
parties, in areas under the landlord’s control. Butler
(general rule); Doe (foreseeable criminal acts).
However, landlords do not have an absolute duty to
protect invitees from “open and obvious dangers.”
Butler. A danger is open and obvious if “an average
user of ordinary intelligence could discover the
danger and risk presented on casual inspection.” Id.
Example B: Strong Rule Synthesis
Under West Virginia law, a person is
guilty of indecent exposure when he or she
(1) intentionally exposes his or her sex
organs, (2) does so under circumstances
in which he or she knows that the conduct
will likely cause affront or alarm, and (3)
does so without the consent of the victim.
W. Va. Code § 61-8-9; Randall. In
analyzing the defendant’s intent, the Court
will carefully consider the circumstances
surrounding the exposure. Jones.
Formulas for the R of IRAC
Formula #4 : Case Illustrations
Case Illustration =
1) Key proposition
+
2) Factual background
+
3) Reasoning
+
4) Holding
Example A: Case Illustration
In analyzing proximate cause, the Michigan Supreme
Court considers whether the landlord had prior notice of
similar crimes. (KEY PROPOSITION) For example, in
Doe, the plaintiff was raped on the vacant ninth floor of the
defendant landlord’s office building. (FACTUAL
BACKGROUND) Because there was no evidence that the
landlord had no prior notice of similar crimes in the building
(REASONING), the court held the landlord could not
foresee the plaintiff’s specific injury, and therefore did not
proximately cause the plaintiff’s injury. (HOLDING)
Example B: Case Illustration
In analyzing the defendant’s knowledge, the
court likely will consider the circumstances
surrounding the defendant’s conduct objectively
(KEY PROPOSITION). In Capetta, a topless dancer
exposed her breasts to patrons and allowed them to
touch her breasts. The patrons of the establishment
were willing participants, solicited her conduct, and
did not leave in shock (FACTUAL BACKGROUND).
Because a reasonable person would interpret the
patrons’ conduct to signal approval (REASONING),
the court held that the defendant had no reason to
know that her exposed breasts would cause affront
or alarm (HOLDING).
Formulas for A of IRAC

Formula #1: The A of IRAC

1) Give your best fact first, and predict!

2) Explicitly compare to the precedent

3) Connect analogy or distinction to the
expected result
Analysis Formula #1: Example A
Greenbrier can point to her assailant’s violent criminal
background to establish causation. The attacker had
stabbed a woman in her home several years before this
incident. (BEST FACTS/PREDICT) Unlike in Doe, in which
the past criminal incident was nonviolent and the court held
that the landlord therefore could not have foreseen a violent
crime, here the assailant had a history of the same type of
violence. (EXPLICIT A OR D) Thus, because Greenbrier’s
attacker had committed a stabbing before, the court is likely
to rule differently here and find causation because it was
foreseeable that the same violent act would recur.
(EXPECTED RESULT).
Analysis Formula #1: Example B
Here, because Ms. Boyle was asked repeatedly
to cover herself, the prosecution can show that she
knew her conduct was causing alarm. (BEST
FACTS) Unlike in Capetta, in which the court held
that a topless dancer would not know that she was
affronting men who were signaling their approval by
giving her money, here Ms. Boyle was notified that
her conduct was offensive when both the lifeguard
and another patron asked her to be more discreet
while breastfeeding. (COMPARE) Thus, Ms.
Boyle’s conduct likely satisfies the knowledge
requirement because she was twice alerted to the
offensiveness of her conduct. (CONNECT)
Formulas for A of IRAC
Formula #2: Explicit Comparison
(Analogical Reasoning)
Like/unlike Case A, where the Court
held X because of Y, here we have/don’t
have Y. Therefore, we expect the
same/different result because ______.

(Consult Sarah Ricks and Julie Baker
Example of Explicit Comparison
• Unlike in Capetta, in which the court held
that a topless dancer would not know that
she was affronting men who were
signaling their approval by giving her
money, here Ms. Boyle was notified that
her conduct was offensive when both the
lifeguard and another patron asked her to
be more discreet while breastfeeding.
Bonus Formula for I/C

I/C= Because X (key fact),
then Y (legal conclusion).

Example:
Because the victims were children and
therefore legally unable to consent to
indecent exposure, the prosecution will
prove that Ms. Boyle failed to obtain
their consent.
Conclusions

• Mastering legal reasoning and writing is a
huge challenge for 1Ls.

• While no single organizing paradigm can
apply to the analysis of all legal issues,
formulas can help bridge the learning gap
and set students on a path toward
professional competency.
Questions?
More Complex Analogy/Distinction

Fact A Fact B Fact C Policy Reasoning Holding

Fact A Fact B Fact C Policy Reasoning Holding

Fact A Fact B Fact C Policy Reasoning Holding

Fact A Fact B Fact C Policy Reasoning Holding

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