By Professor Herb Ramy
Director, Academic Support Program, Suffolk University Law School

When students attempt to perform objective legal analysis, they often fall into the trap of being indecisive as opposed to objective. When performing objective legal analysis, you must still come to a conclusion; it’s just that your conclusion is the product of carefully considering all reasonable alternatives.  Lawyers rarely face issues where the conclusion is obvious.  Often, our advice is based on choosing between multiple flawed alternatives.  So, you have to get in the habit of picking an answer that you are less than 100% sure of.  Telling the reader that a problem could be resolved in two ways, but that the final answer will “depend on what the court thinks” is tantamount to telling the reader “this is hard, so you figure it out!”

The I-R-A-C (Issue, Rule, Analyze/Apply and Conclude) organizational formula is a simple way of ensuring that you are being objective. As I have noted in a recent posting, the formula might more accurately be stated as I-R-A1-A2-C.  This formulation is merely a reminder that you must first consider one side of the argument (A1) and then other side (A2) in order for your analysis to be accurate.  Then, once you have noted both points of view, weigh them against each other and come up with a valid reason why one option is better than the other.  This final step in your reasoning leads naturally into your conclusion.