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 Inst Powered By Docstoc
					     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
  provide adequate security, her landlord
  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
 articles for additional formulas)
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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