Monday, November 21, 2016

Tools of Analysis: Proving the IRAC - A Request for Comments

IRAC is a familiar construct to law students.  It is a method for analyzing a fact pattern in the context of potentially applicable law.  It consists or identifying the elements of a fact pattern and playing them against the elements of a law, tort, contract, and so on.  IRAC stands for:
  • Issue - the issue within the fact pattern that you wish to test
  • Rule - the rule or element of law against which you want to test the issue
  • Analysis - Your analysis of the Issue in the context of the rule that you've selected
  • Conclusion - Your conclusion based upon your analysis
While this is very common fare in law school, it almost never is used by lawyers except as a way of seeing things based upon years of using it in school.  In short, it is a way of looking at the law that becomes subconscious habit after "IRACing" hundreds of fact patterns.

As we move forward with our development of a cyber jurisprudence, we will be analyzing issues - cases, law, and so forth, formally.  In formal analysis we need a set of starting points.  We call those axioms.  When we can prove a proposition to be formally - i.e., mathematically or logically - correct we can apply it axiomatically.

We need a starting point for the logical framework that we will develop and I have chosen the IRAC because of its universal applicability to our deliberations.  Using IRAC we can develop theories, test hypotheses and, in short, arrive at a framework for applying the law to cyber science. What follows is a proof of the IRAC.  Once we have established its correctness, it becomes available for us to use as our Axiom 1.

I should add, at this point, that, as far as I know, nobody has done this so it is quite conceivable that I am wrong in one or more steps.  If you believe that to be the case, please ring in with your proposed correction. I am viewing this as a draft at this point so feel free to pick nits.

IRAC Proof


·        I = Issue
·        R = Rule
·        A = Analysis
·        C = Conclusion

The terms “plaintiff” and “defendant” in tort or contract law equate to “prosecution” and “defendant” in criminal law for the purposes of this proof.

Proposition 1:

A conclusion may be drawn as to the legal consequences for a plaintiff or a defendant by analysis of a rule applying to an element of a fact pattern.


S1.  An issue is an element of a fact pattern.
S2.  If an analysis of the issue shows that there is a rule that applies to the issue, the issue has legal relevance.
S3.  A conclusion as to legal consequences may favor a plaintiff or a defendant.
S4.  A conclusion cannot favor both the defendant and the plaintiff simultaneously. (Impossibility thesis)
S5.  If the relevant actions by the defendant are described by a rule, the defendant may bear the legal consequences.
S6.  If  the relevant actions by the defendant are not described by a rule, the defendant may not bear the legal consequences.
S7.  Therefore, based upon analysis of an issue in light of a rule, a conclusion may be reached (from S1, S2, S3)
S8. Therefore, analysis of the relevant rule and the issue enables a conclusion that favors either the defendant or the plaintiff. (from S2, S3, S4)
S9.  Therefore, if analysis of the rule relevant to the issue concludes that the rule describes the defendant’s actions in the fact pattern as culpable is true, then that the defendant must bear the legal consequences is true. (from S3, S4, S6, S8)
S10.  Therefore, if the conclusion is that the defendant must bear the legal consequences is true, the conclusion that the plaintiff must bear the legal consequences is false. (from S4, S8, S9)

This does not take into account extensions such as shared liability. Those are for further proof once the IRAC as it sits is established as our Axiom 1.  Axioms should be as simple as possible to allow for universality without losing the capability of specificity.

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