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1.3: Helpful Hints for Noticing IRAC

IRAC Language Clues

  1. Conclusion
    1. At very beginning and at very end.
    2. Answers the question in the issue.
      1. Briefly answers “the call of the questions” (i.e., the practical task or question –“give a fine or ticket” or “don’t give a fine or ticket”)
      2. Briefly answers the legal question (i.e., whether Jefferson’s actions constituted a moving violation)
    3. Often uses words that convey an opinion (e.g., should) or probability (e.g., probably, likely, unlikely, etc.)
    4. At the end of the essay, often has a connecting phrase like:
      1. Therefore,…
      2. As a result,….
      3. For these reasons,….
  2. Issue
    1. Look for phrases like
      1. “The issue [or question] is whether….”
      2. “We need to determine whether….”
    2. The word “whether” or “if”
    3. Present tense main verb (e.g., “The issue is whether….”)
    4. Often (but not always) use of key facts and key rule words or concepts in the same sentence:
      1. e.g., “The issue is whether [key facts] is equivalent to [rule].
      2. e.g., “The issue is whether eating a banana in front of someone else is equivalent to assault.
  3. Rule
    1. The main verb in all sentences discussing the rule should be a present tense verb. Because we use present tense in English to describe things that are generally or always true. (e.g., like the verb “use” in this sentence!)
    2. Past tense main verbs are often used when describing rules from previous court cases or decisions. (e.g., “In Apple v. Banana, the court said that apples and bananas are both fruits and therefore should be permitted to marry each other.”)
    3. If you see a reference to an outside source of authority (e.g., a statute, an ordinance, a sign, a court opinion, etc.) then it might be describing or discussing a rule.
      1. “According to the court in Apple v. Banana,….”
      2. “The court said……”
      3. “In section 301(c) of the Fruit Act of 2012,….”
      4. “Apples and bananas are both accepted as types of fruits. (Apple v. Banana, 365 U.S. 64)”
  4. Analysis
    1. Introductory phrases like:
      1. “Here,….”
      2. “In this case,….”
      3. “Regarding…..”
    2. Use of key words from the rule. For example, in the case of the sample essays:
      1. litter
      2. coffee
      3. candy wrapper
    3. Key rule words appearing in the same sentence as important facts, for example:
      • banana peel and coffee or candy wrapper in the same sentence.
    4. Uses dependent clauses (e.g., “when” clauses) to connect key words and ideas.
      • “When Jefferson started driving again, she was operating a motor vehicle.”
    5. Comparisons or analogy language, for example:
      • similar to/analogous to/comparable to
      • different from/not the same/distinguishable from
      • more than/less than
      • while
    6. Categorization words, for example:
      • “Coffee and banana peels are both natural.”
      • “Coffee is a liquid while a banana peel is a solid.”
    7. Counterargument language, for example:
      • “On the other hand,….”
      • “However,…..”
      • “Some might argue,….”
      • “It could be argued that….”
    8. Policy arguments, for example:
      • “This could cause a bigger problem because it will make the beaches look dirty.”
      • “This would actually provide a major benefit to the community by attracting birds, bugs and other interesting wildlife to a public park.”
    9. Hypotheticals: Imagined facts or conditional language related to hypothetical situations:
      • “The car could…”
      • “A person might….”