What’s a FIRAC?

If you have never briefed a case, you have missed the “fun” and frustration of trying to map out a court’s answer to a legal question.  In order to sort out case law, the case brief is used as an outlining tool.  It is an outlining method specific to the legal field.

In the legal field, there are many new vocabulary words, but FIRAC?  Really?

FIRAC actually stands for FACTS, ISSUE, RULE, APPLICATION and CONCLUSION.  It is a method of briefing cases, which is something every student of the law must attempt on some level.

The method that I have found easiest to remember and to use is F-I-R-A-C.  The “F” stands for “Facts.”  You need to outline both the procedural and legally significant facts (those necessary to the court’s reasoning and holding).  The procedural facts are things like prior hearings, prior order, prior history on appeal.  Legally significant facts are the facts the court looked to in making its decision.

The “I” stands for “Issue.”  The issue is the legal question presented.  It is the question being asked of the court.  A case may have (usually does have) more than one issue.

The “R” stands for “Rule.”  This is one of the areas where the novice case briefer can get confused.  The rule is the precedent – the judicial opinions that have come before which are binding on the court making this decision.  The rule is typically a quotation from a prior case which is usually given away by the quotation marks and the citation.  There may be more than one rule per issue, so don’t write down only the first one that you come across; keep looking.

The “A” stands for “Analysis” or Application.”  This is the section that outlines the court’s reasoning, how the court reached its decision in the pending case.  It should be quoted in the brief but will probably not be in quotations in the case itself.  Often policy discussions, economic balancing and discussions of the intent of the legislature will be included in this section.  It will also include an application of the rule (precedent) to the facts of the pending case.

The “C” stands for “Conclusion.”  The conclusion is what the court did with the lower court decision (e.g. affirmed, remanded, reversed) as well as the real life result.  I like to make sure that I understood the case result by stating in clear and concise terms what happened to the people involved in the case.

Briefing is core to the training of any legal professional’s mind.  It is a skill involving higher reasoning and analysis, so it is not acquired without some effort and practice.  Keep on briefing!  It will get easier.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for posting. Excellent brief explanation of FIRAC

  2. thank you this is very helpful to law students. keep on posting, we’ll surely learn a lot…

  3. thank u nw i know what FIRAC is and how it work


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