n Journal for Juridical Science - Observational critique of FIRAC as a tool for legal analysis - chronicle

Volume 44 Number 2
  • ISSN : 0258-252X



The most basic legal analysis requires students to identify the relevant principle and apply it to a set of facts. In simple terms, legal analysis entails effective and insightful reading and application of court decisions, legislation, academic writing, and transactional documents such as contracts. It is also the foundation for the process of learning legal writing. Legal analysis also requires that law students have a good command of the language of the discipline, mostly English in South Africa. Greenbaum submits that a poor command of the English language is fatal to students engaging with lecturers in a “critical or argumentative way”.

To this end, the Faculty of Law, University of the Free State (UFS), mostly uses FIRAC in an effort to embed strong cognitive and critical thinking skills in its Bachelor of Laws (LLB) programme. FIRAC is an acronym for the famed – or perhaps notorious – “facts”, “issue”, “rule of law”, “application” and “conclusion” thinking formula. Over the past seven years, we have taught approximately 5,500 UFS law students on the introduction to legal science and legal writing courses. Our experience causes us to doubt the effectiveness of FIRAC to teach cognitive and critical thinking skills.

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