As a law student, conducting research is one of the most important activities throughout the entire duration of one’s academic pursuits and even in the legal professional sphere. Good research skills are usually acquired through a constant pursuit of quality searching, reading as well as writing. This is especially important in the legal field because the academic curriculum in this field is extensive and substantial. In addition to this, the co-curricular framework in Indian legal education is fairly dynamic, involving a variety of exercises such as moot court competitions, legal drafting engagements, mock trials, and so on- each of which requires strong inclination and skills in conducting relevant research in a short period.
During law school, conducting research and writing and publishing papers should constitute a significant amount of one’s co-curricular engagements. Needless to say, publishing quality research papers is quite rewarding in several ways:
Writing research papers demonstrates one’s command over that particular issue or field of specialisation as such papers require extensive as well as in-depth understanding of that subject.
Good research papers contribute significantly to the advancement of the academic field and make the author an authority on the issue because of their insight and logical analysis.
Quality publications are often a parameter for recruiters to judge the acumen of the candidate and to test the depth of their knowledge
When your research papers are cited by someone else, it gives a feeling of satisfaction as it is a form of validation of the hard work and effort that went into drafting the paper
This article seeks to highlight the basics of writing research articles/papers with special emphasis on the IRAC method which is widely used for structuring such pieces, etc.
The IRAC method, which is now globally considered a standard for legal analysis or reasoning, is believed to have originated in the United States in around the 1960s. (Source: American Bar Association)
IRAC stands for Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion.
This rule is often utilised by individuals who are new to the legal field and are yet to develop the acumen where they can effortlessly create and structure a complete and logical argument without any glaring flaws. It is an extremely useful tool for organising any law-related essay-type answer or even an article. The rule primarily helps the individual in dealing with the issue at hand in a comprehensive manner.
In the next part of this article, we shall examine each aspect of the IRAC rule in greater detail.
Elaborating On The Issue
Stating the issue is the first part of the IRAC method. It is also a crucial part of the analysis and therefore the issue must be laid down crisply and clearly. A reader must be able to learn exactly what the legal controversy is, from a prima facie perusal of the Issue section. The Issue section sets the tone for the rest of the analysis as it creates a bridge between the rule and the facts specific to the legal problem one has identified.
The only way to do this right is through proper identification of the legal problem. This can be done by repeated reading and a wholesome understanding of the given facts. When it comes to drafting, certain terminology is specific to the legal profession and must be used appropriately. For example, in stating a legal issue, one of the common expressions is the “whether, when” structure. However, there are other legitimate expressions as well.
Here are some examples:
Whether the right to privacy can be termed a constitutional right even though the Constitution of India does not explicitly recognise it?
When is Sameer liable for defamation against his friend Ritu even though he did not know his comments would be published anywhere?
Whether the State can take away our fundamental freedoms unconditionally during an Emergency?
Stating The Law (Rule)
Now that the legal issue in question has been laid down, we have to move on to the next step of the process i.e. stating the law that concerns the given issue. The rule and the facts are inextricably linked. This is an essential step before the next part i.e. application because without first identifying the rules, there will be no foundation for any analysis of the issue. In other words, clearly explaining the law makes it possible for the individual to analyse the issue in terms of what can be a legitimate and acceptable outcome.
For stating the rule, one may have to cater to several aspects of the rule or rules in existence which includes the definitions, the elements of the rules themselves, the exceptions to the general rule, limitation or restrictions upon the rule, and lastly, the defences available in case of that law.
Definitions help give the reader a better understanding of the subject matter that the legal issue involves,
The elements of the law clearly state what the rule allows or prohibits.
Exceptions to the general rule create certain special circumstances in which the existing law would not apply.
Limitations upon the rule in question demarcate the jurisdiction of the law beyond which it would not be deemed applicable.
Finally, defences outline certain situations which allow the defendant or accused under that rule to escape liability even though they are guilty under the said rule.
Furthermore, when explaining a legal provision, one must start with the general concepts and then move to specific concepts if any for ease of understanding and coherence. The focus should be on making the reader understand the possible consequences of the rule and how it works in the context of the given facts.
Application Of The Rule In The Given Issue
This is perhaps the important part of the entire process wherein the legal issue is thoroughly examined in light of all the applicable rules to make certain logical and lawfully valid inferences. The line of reasoning that is taken up by the author in this section should be clearly explained without any degree of ambiguity. A comprehensive analysis always mandates a careful and detailed analysis of all the facts available. Care must be taken to ensure that there is no omission of important information, except for cases where such information is entirely irrelevant.
What Not To Write
Sameer, a police officer was giving Ravi a sobriety test, he noticed that Ravi fit the description of an eyewitness to the robbery, giving the police officer probable cause to arrest Ravi.
How To Write This
In this case, Pete the police officer realised that Dan fit the description of the suspect, providing probable cause for the arrest because Dan was extremely tall at 6'4", was wearing a green and tan sweater with purple patches and pointy-toed alligator cowboy boots, fitting the description provided by the eyewitness to the robbery.
In this last part of the process, one must summarise the issue, rule, and especially analysis briefly and crisply. The conclusion seeks to highlight the outcome or inference of the analysis to provide a logical answer to the legal issue in question.
Example Of IRAC Method
Under generic American state law, Lucy is guilty of leaving the scene of an accident but is likely justified in doing so due to the nature of the injury she sustained.
Under Public Act 9.98 “it is illegal for any involved party to leave the scene of a vehicular accident before the police arrive”; Smith v. Smith held that “an involved party is defined as any person driving or riding in a vehicle involved in an accident”.
Furthermore, the Public Act 9.99 states that “an involved party is justified in leaving an accident if seeking immediate & necessary medical treatment”. Another landmark case, Jones v. Jones, lays down that “necessary medical treatment is any treatment that a reasonable person would deem necessary”.
Lucy was driving a car down a rural road and got hit by another vehicle that was exiting a driveway. Lucy suffered a sprained wrist that developed severe swelling. A passerby drove Lucy to the nearest hospital before any police arrived on the scene.
Because Lucy was driving a car that was involved in an accident, she is an “involved party” under Smith v. Smith. Because she is an involved party and left the scene of the accident before police arrived, she meets the elements of PA9.98 and is likely guilty unless her actions are justified under PA9.99.
Arguably, immediate medical treatment was not necessary for Lucy’s sprained wrist, thus she would not be justified in leaving the scene under PA9.99. Because Lucy’s wrist experienced severe swelling, she has a strong argument that she reasonably believed that her injuries were much worse than a sprain, and thus she was justified in leaving the scene under Jones v. Jones. Therefore, this may come across as a logical and reasonable defence to Lucy’s actions that result in non-liability.
Although Lucy meets all elements of PA9.98, leaving the scene of an accident, she will likely be deemed justified in leaving that scene due to the severe appearance of her injuries. If the court does not accept her argument, that she reasonably believed the medical treatment was immediately necessary, she will be found guilty.
Some Do’s And Don’ts Of Writing A Research Article
Ideas and concepts should be explained in a precise way. Writing stories in an elaborated way is not good for a useful paper.
Mention all the research techniques and methods used in the paper and justify each of them with specific reasons.
The findings of the research and the ideas proposed by you could match up with another researcher in the future so always be very accurate while mentioning the results.
Never write any false or misleading statement as it reduces the effectiveness of the paper.
Refrain from writing unnecessary stuff to lengthen the paper. Always use sufficient data to frame the point.
Do not exceed the recommended word count as it shows that you have trouble following the guidelines and do not know how to manage within the specified limits.
Citing blogs and Wikipedia is a strict no-no as they are unofficial information and undermine your credibility as a researcher. Always use authorized papers or articles for citing.
Plagiarism in your research paper directly or indirectly affects your credibility level. So always proofread the documents multiple times.
The IRAC method is a critical tool used by lawyers and legal scholars for in-depth analysis. It can be used to draft legal documents and to complete law school assignments and assessments. It allows the users to dissect difficult legal cases into more manageable portions and helps them to write or communicate their ideas in an effective, yet concise manner. Since legal issues are complex, so are legal writings. The IRAC methodology provides an organized approach to the writing task, helping to simplify arduous concepts.
LEGALBOTS wishes you all the best!