When you file a motion in court, one of the documents usually required is a Memorandum of Law (also known as Memorandum of Law in Support of the Motion).
Your Memorandum of Law is where your legal arguments are located. This is where your persuasive skills are applied. Thus, it is important to know how courts expect your Memorandum of Law to be organized.
A well-organized Memorandum of Law will have a macro IFRAC and an IRAC for each heading in the analysis/argument section. Let’s take a look at both of these.
IFRAC is Your Memorandum of Law Outline
At the macro level, the entire Memorandum of Law is organized as IFRAC:
IRAC is Your Outline for Individual Issues
Under your Analysis/Argument section, you will have headings, and each heading should be followed by you writing in the IRAC format:
Motion Memorandum Outline Example
Let’s review an outline example. The framework for your Memorandum of Law in Support of the Motion would be something like the outline below. In this outline, we assume you have three issues to address.
- Rule (e.g. standard for summary judgment)
- Issue #1 Heading
- Issue #1 (summary statement or paragraph)
- Rule (law that applies to your issue)
- Analysis/Argument (law applied to the facts of your case related to your issue)
- Conclusion (summary of your argument on this issue)
- Issue #2 Heading
- Issue #2
- Issue #3 Heading
- Issue #3
- Issue #1 Heading
- Conclusion of Memo (summarize why the court should grant your motion)
Notice how the entire document follows the IFRAC format. IFRAC is the same as IRAC but IFRAC also has a fact section because this is a required section in a Memorandum of Law.
Notice also how each issue/heading in your macro Analysis/Argument section has its own IRAC. For example, for Issue #1, your heading might be something like this: “Mary had a duty to act as a reasonable person would and not smoke while filling her car with gas.” You would follow that heading by citing the statutes or cases (i.e. Rule) that apply. Then you apply the Rule to the facts of your situation. Then you conclude. After competing IRAC for Issue #1, you write a new heading and tackle Issue #2 with another IRAC.
Why IRAC Matters
Usually, a judge’s law clerk will read your Memorandum of Law before the judge. Judicial law clerks usually have strong skills in legal writing and often have background on law review or other legal journals. Both judges and law clerks are familiar with IRAC and expect attorneys to use this format unless there are important reasons to deviate. For this reason, a poorly organized Memorandum of Law can undermine your credibility with a law clerk and judge.
Examples of IRAC
A good way to see IRAC (or IFRAC) in action is to review a few well-written motions. You can find these online or by asking a librarian at your local law library.
Another option is to review the example in the Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style, which was prepared by one of the best legal writers of our time, Bryan Garner. For law students and litigators, I consider the Redbook to be one of the essential tools of the trade (along with the Bluebook).