Many bar exam takers leave points on the table because they approach the essays like a student rather than an attorney. Perhaps it is because they have heard bar exam essays are not an accurate representation of how attorneys write in the real world. It is true – attorneys do not always have the luxury of using IRAC with the engineer-like precision a bar exam demands. However, fact patterns demand to be approached exactly how an attorney would approach them.
Bar exam writers present facts you could in theory be presented with the day you are sworn into your state bar. Bar exams test whether you are ready, prepared, and capable to advise a client who comes into your office seeking help. Similar to the fact patterns, clients do not 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.
IRAC is what attorneys do, perhaps intuitively, in real life every time a client comes in seeking advice. The difference is it does not have the catchy label or a methodical order like it does on the bar exam. 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 their legal problem? 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 will prevail in court (conclusion)?
Release the attorney inside to elevate your IRAC to the next level so you can earn more points on the written portion of the bar exam. One way you can do this is to think of the characters in the fact pattern as real clients with real problems. Read and feel those facts as if your client’s life depends on it. If your client’s life depends on it, you will not present a wishy-washy analysis. Bar exam writers make it easy for you to feel the facts because someone or some entity has been aggrieved. Use the feelings stirred up inside of you as fuel for your “A” in IRAC. Even if you find a contracts or evidence fact pattern a drag, do not approach it as such. Rather, get into the facts as if a client needs you to be their advocate. This will help you analyze the you-know-what out of the facts presented and earn more points.
Finally, I hereby give 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 exam results and pass the bar, you will be the same person you were three months prior when you walked into the exam room. Show bar exam graders with your IRAC skills (kicked up a notch) that you are up for the challenge now.
So step up! You’ve got this!
MEET THE AUTHOR
Yohanna Romero Baca is Founder of Bar Exam Coaching by Yohanna. She is a graduate of the George Washington University School of Law and spent 15 years in private practice in Houston, TX and Miami, FL. Yohanna went from not passing the bar exam to passing it in three states using the points she earned on the written portion of the bar exam. Writing saved her life! Now, Yohanna gets to help hard working individuals who did not pass the bar exam the first time become better writers so they too can pass the bar exam, launch their legal careers, and support themselves and their families. Her mission is to help individuals refine their writing to achieve their goals on the bar exam and beyond. In her course, Elevate Your IRAC, she teaches a simple method to write high scoring answers without the impossible task of creating a model answer. If this is of interest, sign up for her free workshop here.