The IRAC Rule as a Guide in Legal Writing – Aisha Salami

Aisha Salami

The first time I heard IRAC I was in 100 Level and I had no clue what it meant, I came late for the class so I missed the part where the lecturer explained it. So whenever he was saying “in answering questions it is best to use IRAC RULE” in my head he was actually saying ‘in answering questions it is best to use HIERARCHY’.  It wasn’t my fault (except for coming late to class) he had this fast way of saying IRAC RULE that wasn’t so clear and hierarchy had a way of fitting in. I felt no need to clarify from my mates because I thought I was right and he had not given any note before my arrival. Anyways, I got the gist of it all in 200level when the lecturer asked if we have been taught THE IRAC RULE and I was like ‘NO’ but my colleagues had already echoed ‘YES’. Then he asked someone to explain it and she went ahead to explain what I thought was ‘HEIRARCHY’, it wasn’t funny then, I was having a mental battle as my brain couldn’t trust my ears anymore.


IRAC is an abbreviation for Issues, Rules, Application/Analysis and Conclusion.  It is an analytic approach in solving problems, it helps to breakdown issues in bits, I call it legal analysis. It is more of a guideline than a formula in legal analysis.


Before one can analyse a legal issue, of course, they have to know what the issue is. In writing a brief or answering any legal question, identifying the issue is the most important thing one needs to do. Issues are the core of your paper or essay, in an examination you earn marks for every issue identified and also in practise if you miss out some issues you may reduce your clients’ chances at getting relief on those issues.

 Identifying issues is easy when you are abreast of the laws and court holdings of your state. Issues are always spotted around unclear facts and identified with the question of law.


After the issue(s) has been identified the next thing to do is to state the relevant rule(s) of law that will apply in resolving the issue. Rules under common law are mainly derived from statutes and precedents. This is where your knowledge of law will come to play; also, you must state the binding rules first before the persuasive rules. In doing this one must understand the application of law, jurisdiction and the hierarchy of courts amongst others.


Having understood the facts, outlined the issues and identified the applicable statutes and case laws, the next step is to apply the rules to the facts, this is also known as analysing the issue. This is the simplest part. In an examination, you may be asked to argue both sides or for just one party, if you are asked to argue for both parties then you’ll have to apply the rules first for the plaintiff/appellant then for the respondent.


This is the wrap up of your argument. It is where you weigh both arguments and proffer a likely judgement by the court based on your arguments. This is like what you will advise your client on. The equation is that I+R+A=C.

In the conclusion on may include possible defences for the respondent and clear up any ambiguity in the arguments so far. The conclusion should also be clear enough so that the examiner/reader can easily know your stance.

In vain have you acquired knowledge if you have not imparted it to others. Deuteronomy Rabbah.

Feel free to contribute to this write up by leaving a comment or/and sharing.

See you next Thursday and Thank you.

Aisha Salami is a law graduate of Lagos State University awaiting to be admitted to the Law School.

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