Navigating this Blog

There are countless ways to style legal writing. In this blog, you will find various approaches to legal writing that I have found to be effective. Take it all with a grain of salt.

I hope some of this helps. Good luck!

Analysis - CREAC

There is no one way to approach your legal analysis.  I strongly recommend the approach outlined below, referred to as CREAC, whereby you start your analysis of the legal issue by telling the reader the conclusion that you have reached and then proceed to explain to the reader your rationale for how you reached that conclusion.

CREAC (Conclusion, Rule, Explanation of Rule, Analysis, Conclusion) is a common approach to organizing analysis of a specific legal issue.  CREAC begins with your conclusion.  That is, you will tell the reader your opinion on the legal issue from the outset, and you will then proceed to demonstrate your reasoning.

IRAC (Issue Rule Analysis Conclusion) is another common approach to legal writing, where, instead of starting with your conclusion, you merely state what the issue is.  I view IRAC as being more akin to a mystery novel than an informative memo because, instead of coming out and disclosing your conclusion from the outset, you are keeping the reader in suspense until the end of your section.  But we are not writing mystery novels.  We are instead just trying to communicate our opinion in a direct, easy to understand fashion.  By stating your conclusion from the start of your section, your reader will better understand your analysis and why you reached that conclusion.

One CREAC per element/sub-issue.  If your legal issue includes a four-part rule, then you should probably have four sub-sections within your Discussion section, one for each element of the rule. Each one of those subsections will be its own CREAC.

CREAC Structure.  As mentioned above, CREAC stands for:

Explanation of Rule

In terms of actually laying out your CREAC analysis, I recommend the following:
  1. Heading (Conclusion): Use your Conclusion as the heading to your subsection.  Remember, this Conclusion should only speak to the particular sub-issue that you are analyzing.  Thus, if your memo addresses whether your client could be held liable for a tort, your overall conclusion might be, "Defendant Jones can be held liable for the injuries that the Plaintiff suffered as a result of the automobile accident."  However, if you divided your memo into three sections to address the three main elements of the tort i.e., (1) duty, (2) breach of duty, and (2) damages, then your heading would be limited to the specific element that you are analyzing within that section.  For example, your Conclusion to Section one might read: "Defendant Jones breached his duty to provide safe travel to the Plaintiff by driving the school bus under the influence of a narcotic."  
  2. First Paragraph (Rule, Explanation): The first sentence of the first paragraph of your section should clearly state the relevant Rule. Remember, as with the Conclusion, this Rule should speak only to the specific sub-issue that you are analyzing (i.e., "To hold the Defendant liable, a jury must find that Defendant Jones breached his duty of care to the Plaintiff.").  Following your single sentence rule, your second sentence should provide the reader with an Explanation of the Rule, which could be anywhere from a single sentence to many sentences.  Ideally, your Explanation would include a list of factors/considerations that you plan to discuss in the remainder of your subsection when analyzing the issue.  If you include such a list, then you should organize the remainder of your subsection according to that list of factors.  For example, "In making this determination, the court will consider (1) the amount of hydrocodone that Defendant Jones consumed, and (2) whether Jones was aware of the impact that the narcotic would have on him while operating a school bus."
  3. Analysis Paragraphs: Following your introductory paragraph, you should separate your Analysis into individual, thematic paragraphs, hopefully corresponding to the list of factors that you articulated in your Explanation of the Rule above.  In each of these paragraphs, you should, if possible, start with a topic sentence that indicates the topic that you will be discussing within that paragraph, followed by a discussion of relevant case law, which you will compare and contrast to your client's circumstances.  
  4. Conclusion: Restate your Conclusion at the end of the subsection in a one or two sentence paragraph.  
Follow the links below for more detailed tips on drafting each element of CREAC.
C (Conclusion)
R (Rule)
E (Explanation)
A (Analysis)
C (Conclusion)