Updated: Oct 24, 2020
Many bar exam takers leave points on the table by approaching the essays like a student rather than an attorney. Perhaps it’s because they have the misconception that bar exam answers are nothing how attorneys write. It is true - attorneys don’t always have the luxury of applying IRAC with engineer-like precision like bar exam takers do. However, fact patterns on the essays demand they be approached exactly as a licensed attorney would.
IRAC is what good attorneys do in real life, perhaps intuitively, every time a client seeks advice. The difference is it doesn’t have a catchy label or a methodical order, like it does on the bar. After listening to your client’s problem (fact pattern), would you know what legal problem (issue spot) your client has? Would you know the law (rule statement) applicable to it? Could you tell them the law, as it stands, is or is not in their favor and why (analysis)? Could you tell them the likelihood they would prevail in court (conclusion)?
Bar exams test whether you are ready to competently advise a client who comes into your office seeking help. Just like in the fact patterns, potential clients don’t come to you saying they have a negligence or a due process problem. They come to you explaining, blow by blow, how they have been or feel wronged. It is up to you as their attorney to IRAC their problem, so to speak, and clearly explain to them their options.
Bar exam writers present facts you could, in theory face the very moment you are sworn into your state bar. Read and feel those facts as if your client’s life depends on it. Often, bar exam writers make it easy for you to feel the facts because someone or some entity has been aggrieved. Sympathize with the client or not, use the feelings stirred up inside of you as fuel for your “A” in IRAC.
A prerequisite for taking IRAC to the next level is to "get into" the fact pattern. Even if you find a contracts or evidence fact pattern to be a drag, don’t approach it as such. Rather, "get into" it as if a client needs you to be their advocate. This will help you analyze the you-know-what out of the facts presented. Think of the characters as real clients with real problems. Include only analyzed facts in your answers to convince graders you are ready to advocate on behalf of your client.
I hereby grant you permission to release the attorney inside to IRAC with confidence. There will be no magical transformation within you in the months you wait for your score and get sworn in. When you get your bar results and pass the bar exam, you will be the same person you were three months prior when you walked into the exam room.
Step up to the plate! Stun those bar exam graders with your IRAC (kicked up a notch per tips above). Show them you are up to the challenge, NOW.
You’ve got this!
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