Best Approach to Law Problem Questions

Best Approach to Law Problem Questions

Table of Content

  1. Introduction
  2. Answering Law question based on IPAC
  3. Answering Law Question based on IRAC
  4. General Notes


Throughout your life journey as a law student, you shall always hear the rhythm that law students have a kind of question called problem question. Meanwhile, its logical to deduce that the phrase “Problem Question” was coined from the notion that lawyers are indeed saddled with the enviable responsibility of resolving problem in the society, so from their first foot match in their various faculties of learning, they are usually welcomed into the group of problem solvers.

This piece is going to provide you with the best approach to attempting law problem questions in Examinations. It should not also be forgotten with ease that problem question is usually couched in story format with the name of the parties and the legal issues embedded strategically in it.

However, before unleashing out the various methods of attempting problem question, it shall be germane for you to understand the following tips:

Understand the question

It’s a pertinent point that before you will delve properly into a law problem question that you are required to understand the question and the needed answer as expected by the lecturer. Under this stage, you won’t be exonerated by speculation or guessing. If you don’t know the expected answer or you are not sure of the right answer, its our humble advice that you should leave the question and move on to another question.

Statistics have established that the best way to understand a question is to understand the expectation of the Lecturer. All the students are usually expected by the Lecturer to answer the question and to provide him with his answer. Here the lecturer has the answer to the question already, all that you should do is to provide the lecturer with the answer that he has or a different answer with a better logical conclusion.

Check if you have the needed arsenal to attempt the question

Its should be imperative to understand that problem questions require some legal arsenals to tackle the problem and provide the needed solution as expected by the lecturer.

Check if you have the legal authorities as contained in the area of the law asked by the lecturer. The arsenals as mentioned here include but not limited to law cases and the statutory provisions.

Prepare and arm yourself with the authority and please don’t guess on the authorities.

Check if you still have enough time to raise and attempt the whole questions

Time management is also imperative and important while answering law questions, so try and consider the available time and it can also be advised that you should start with your best question or the question that you know most.

Time is important and should always be considered while answering law problem questions as some problem questions usually have embedded in them more than one legal issue and it’s the requirement that you must raise and attempt the whole legal issues as contained in a problem question.


In course of history many students have approached law problem questions with different methods but time has proven that problem questions can best be addressed using either IPAC method or IRAC Method. The two methods are similar with a bit difference. We shall explain the two methods in different brief sentences.

IPAC is an acronym which stand for:

  1. I –        Legal Issue
  2. P –        Legal Principle
  3. A –        Legal Argument
  4. C –        Conclusion

Legal Issue: The legal Issue has to do with the “Bone of Contention” between the parties. Its usually advised that for you to attempt problem questions properly, you must thrive to raise the right issues and attempt resolving them properly. Issues are those legal problems or differences existing between the parties. It must be legal and not just based on morality.

The issues are usually couched in “whether or not”. However, we shall sincerely advise you to adopt the method of raising legal issues accepted by the lecturers as some lecturers usually prefer it when issues are raised in their preferred format.

Note: A problem question can most definitely contain more than one legal Issues.

Legal Principle: The Legal Principle has to with the principle of Law that covers that particular area of law. Generally, we have many principles of law and different principles of law cover different areas of Law. It would be most imperative that you apply the right principles of law.

Here, you can ordinarily state the principle of Law with either the case or the statutory provision establishing such a principle and then you will stop there. Its advised most explicitly that you can decide not to provide the facts of the cited case under the principle or not to provide the full provision of the cited statutory provision. However, what’s needed here is the principle of law established under the case with the citation of the case.

Argument: The “A” acronym stands for Argument while some writers usually baptise it with application, however we are going to use it for argument.

Argument here stands for applying the principle of law cited above to the facts in issue. You are meant to use deductive argumentative method while doing this. State the general principle as cited above under the legal principle and if possible cite a brief fact of the case cited under the principle and then marry it up with the case at hand. When you are done apply the general principle to the case at hand, the next thing is for you to proffer an optimal solution to the case at hand by giving a logical conclusion.

As a recap, under the argument; state the general principle with the case cited under the legal principle above and give the brief facts of the case and then apply the principle to the case at hand and give the possible logical conclusion.


The last but not the least is the Conclusion. It has been stated severally that a write up without conclusion is like a building without roof. So, it shall be crucial for you to give your answer the most befitting conclusion as to answer the problem question, you’re attempting.

Your conclusion in the other hand can also come inform of advice. It most problem questions, the Lecturer will end the question with “advise the parties”. If the lecturer ends it with adcise the parties, then your answer is going to end in advisory format. For example: “I therefore advise you, Mr. Anya not to institute a legal action against Mr. Iteh…”.

Your conclusion shall best befit the answer if it flows from the principle and argument.

Best Approach to Law Problem Questions using IRAC

  1. Legal Issue
  2. Rules
  3. Legal Argument
  4. Conclusion

It would be deduced with ease that the only difference between what we have in IPAC and IRAC is just ‘P’ and ‘R’.

‘P’ is the acronym that stands for Principle while ‘R’ stands for Rules. Principle strictly aside the detailed explanation provided for it under this piece in IPAC stands to cover statutorily provisions while Rules stand to cover Case Laws.

However, some writers usually abridge this difference by using either IPAC or IRAC in solving their problem questions.

The Both of them aside the above mention disparity have every other thing in common.


  1. You are not required to give the full citation of the cited cases, for example: Cole v. Cole (No need of adding the full citation)
  2. Always answer the Legal issues, in the negative or affirmation.
  3. Don’t abbreviate words
  4. Don’t cite wrong cases instead cite the name of one of the parties.
  5. You can Use Alphabet to represent the name of parties in illustration. For example: if Mr. A and Mr. B agreed on a business plan.
  6. Be time minded
  7. Always conclude your answers to problem question. Its an agreed fact that an answer without a conclusion is like a building without roof.
  8. Always raise the necessary issues and forget the unnecessary ones.

Thanks for reading this piece; Best Approach to Law Problem Questions.

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