What question must be answered in order to reach a conclusion in the case? This should be a legal question which, when answered, gives a result in the particular case. Make it specific (e.g. “Has there been a false imprisonment if the plaintiff was asleep at the time of ‘confinement’?”) rather than general (e.g. “Will the plaintiff be successful?”)
You may make it preferable to the specific case being briefed (e.g. “Did Miller owe a duty of care to Osco, Inc.?”) or which can apply to all cases which present a similar question, (e.g. “Is a duty owed whenever there is an employment relationship?”) Most cases present one issue. If there is more than one issue, list all, and analyze all issues raised.
Rule: The rule is the law that applies to the issue. It should be stated as a general principle, (e.g. A duty of care is owed whenever the defendant should anticipate that her conduct could create a risk of harm to the plaintiff) not a conclusion to the particular case being briefed, (e.g. “The plaintiff was negligent.”)
Application: The application is a discussion of how the rule applies to the facts of a particular case. While the issue and rule are normally only one sentence each, the application is normally paragraphs long. It should be a written debate – not simply a statement of the conclusion.
Whenever possible, present both sides of any issue. Do not begin with your conclusion. The application shows how you are able to reason on paper and is the most difficult (and, on exams, the most important) skill you will learn.
Conclusion: What was the result of the case?
With cases, the text gives you a background of the facts along with the judge’s reasoning and conclusion. When you briefcases, you are basically summarizing the judge’s opinion. With case problems, the editors have given you a summary of the facts of an actual case, but have not given you the judge’s opinion. Your job is to act as the judge in reasoning your way to a ruling, again using the IRAC format.