Adrienne Vernell Hughes, Freelance Paralegal
One of the most valuable skills I acquired during the first years of my paralegal training was how to brief a case using the IRAC method. The IRAC system lays the foundation for dissecting legal opinions and is widely used by attorneys, paralegals and other legal support personnel within the legal field. When briefing a case, the primary goal is to reduce the information and facts of the case into a format that will enable the reader to digest, retain and recall the information at a moment's notice, as well as compare and contrast the information with cases with similar issues and facts. To brief a case is an art form and requires the ability to read, analyze and summarize information with great attention to detail, and this process can also help one to improve their legal writing skills.
IRAC is an acronym for determining the Issue, Rule, Analysis and Conclusion of any given court case. However, once the foundation is laid, you can build and expand on this method to fit your particular case or personal preference. For example, on a personal level, I prefer to expand my outline to include the facts and procedural history in a case, and depending on the complexity of the case, I may even breakdown the rules section to include the holding(s) of a case, and the analysis section to include the court's rationale (reasoning) when deciding the case.
As a final note, some cases include concurring and dissenting opinions such as those found in appeals cases. These opinions gives an alternate analysis of the case. Expanding the conclusion section of a brief to include supporting and opposing opinions provides an opportunity to view the same case from a different perspective. This is also a great tool to use, especially for those specializing in medical malpractice, personal injury and product liability cases during the initial client intake process to aid in the preparation of internal memorandums for the attorney's review.
Breaking Down the IFRAC Method:
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"i diligunt legem"
"i diligunt legem" is the Latin phrase for "I Love the Law." This blog is created out of my love for the law and my desire to give back to my community.