August 11, 2017

Law School Legal Analysis: CREAC vs. IRAC

Wondering what's the difference between IRAC and CREAC? Wondering what is a CREAC for law school? I have your answer here! |

My whole 1L year, I heard nothing but IRAC so that's what I did. It's how I briefed my cases and how I tackled my essay responses on my finals and it worked just fine for me. But then my 2L year I had a professor explain to us at the beginning of the year that he preferred CREAC so that's what we practiced all semester so we'd be ready for his final. He went to Syracuse and apparently the New York Bar prefers CREAC and that's where he got this from. So head's up NY students— this post will be helpful! 

Related: An example of IRAC

Basically what CREAC is Conclusion, Rule, Explanation of rule, Analysis, and Conclusion. The best way to explain how to use CREAC is to just show you an example. Just like with IRAC, you can use this method for both briefing cases to be prepared for class and for answering essay questions on your tests. FYI, what I'm going to do is a very watered down and simple answer just because no one wants to read a full on answer (they usually can take up a few pages). 

Related: How to tackle practice essays


Paul sues Dan, saying that Dan was negligent. Paul works for Dan as a painter and one day Paul fell off of the ladder. Paul claims Dan knew that the ladder was in bad shape and about to break at any moment, but still let Paul use it. Is Dan liable to Paul?


Because Dan had a duty to Paul, Dan breached his duty to Paul, Dan's breach of duty caused Paul's harm, and Paul has actual damages from the harm, Dan is liable for his negligence against Paul.


Usually the R and E can be combined into one paragraph. 

To be held liable for negligence, a party must have breached his duty. 

Explanation of rule

There are four elements to negligence: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages (and then explain what each of these are).


Pro tip: spend the majority of your time on the analysis! It's where most of your points will come from so try to make it your longest section.

Dan employed Paul, and Paul was within the scope of his employment when he fell, so Dan had a duty as Paul's employer to warn Paul of dangers that he knew about. Dan had commented to his secretary the day before Paul's accident that he had noticed that the ladder had some cracks in the side and some screws loose, but he was too lazy to replace it. When Dan knew that the ladder was faulty but still allowed Paul to use it while painting houses, Dan breached his duty to Paul to warn Paul of any danger that he knew about on the job. Paul's accident was a result of Dan's negligence; if Dan had warned Paul, no one would have been hurt. Paul did nothing wrong here and was only hurt because of Dan's failure to warn. Paul has a $8,000 hospital bill from his broken leg that resulted from falling off the ladder. Because all four of the elements of negligence have been met here, Dan was negligent.


Dan had a duty to Paul, which he breached when he let Paul use a ladder that he knew wasn't in working condition. Because Dan breached his duty to Paul and therefore was the cause of Paul's injury, he was negligent and is liable for Paul's harm.

Other tips

In your CREAC, the Conclusions are the least important and can be the shortest. Just make sure that your Conclusion isn't half-empty. A lot of people will lose points because they'll just have a conclusion that says Dan is liable. A good tip to keep you from falling into this trap is use the word because. Using because will help make sure that you're giving a complete answer. 

When it comes to the Rule and Explanation part, write as much as you can remember about the rule. Are there elements or factors to consider? Write those. Is there a majority and a minority rule? Add that. Same for if there is a common law rule and a statutory rule. Or if there's a traditional rule and a modern rule. Sometimes there's even an English rule and an American rule. Another common thing that almost all rules have are exceptions, so make sure you mention those as well.

For the analysis, make sure that every single thing you put in the R and E part are talked about here again. If there's three exceptions but none of them apply, don't just skip these! That's how you can end up losing points to your classmates. A simple sentence or two reiterating that there are exceptions and quickly explaining why each don't apply here can get you major points! Another thing, you might notice that I used a lot of names and not a lot of pronouns. This is because you want to make it super clear to your professor who you're talking about. If I had accidentally somehow made it seem like Paul was the one who had a duty to Dan, this obviously would've been wrong and could've been counted against me. In a final, you'll most likely be strapped for time. A lot of professors understand this so they're totally okay with you using P for Paul or D for Dan if you just start out by saying Paul (P) so that they can know your code. You can even use it for more than just names and say negligence (neg) the first time and neg every other time after that.

If your fact pattern is more complex, then your CREAC will be a little different. If it's 3 different employees all suing Dan for 3 different reasons, then each one of these cases will get its own CREAC. But if Dan did multiple things that made him liable to Paul, besides just not warning him about the faulty ladder, then you also could do C (for overall), REA (for first bad thing Dan did), REA (for second bad thing Dan did), REA (for third bad thing Dan did), C (for all 3). 

You don't always have to make each letter a separate paragraph. So don't worry about squishing a rule, explanation, and analysis all together in one paragraph. If it helps your reader (professor) follow your arguments better, this is totally okay! Good luck out there my little 1L's!!


  1. Nikki, your blog is awesome. I love all the detailed information you provide, I'm considering going to law school.

    1. Thank you so much Chad!! I hope my blog has convinced you to go to law school :)