Writing a Case Brief
If you have chosen to study law, you hear the term “briefing a case” almost every day. A case brief is a summary of the case’s structure. It is vital to filter out the information and write or type only the necessary information. Briefing a case does not necessarily have to be done in a live court proceeding. It may also be done, for example, from the books where previous sessions were recorded.
A traditional brief includes the following information:
- Parties’ names
- Judge’s name
- Procedural history
- The court the ruling or opinion came from
- The facts
- The issues brought up
- The holding
- The legal reasoning
- The reason why this particular case is included in student’s task
- The questions left after reading the case
All these requirements for the live briefing relate to the book brief as well. These requirements are the basis of all kinds of brief. However, they differ a little on a book. What is important, a book brief generally has a reference, which is the book itself. If you are a law student, it is vital to know how to identify the critical sections, which contain the main points.
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Here are two main ways to identify them:
- Use of consistent colors to identify various requirements. For instance, a green color can be used in the names of the people in the case. This helps identify the requirements at first glance.
- Minimal highlighting. When there is too much information highlighted, it means that the entire book is important. In this case, only the crucial points should be highlighted.
If you are a new law student, case briefing can be quite difficult for you at the beginning, but you will improve your skills with time. It will help you get prepared for classes and exams. Both types of briefing work good, but every student has his/her own preferences that determine the way he/she performs. Later in exams, you will require just the three elements to fully remember the case: facts, procedural history and judgment of the case.
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What is the best way to identify the relevant information? You can include all the information that you consider relevant and that helps you to recall the case. Remember that a case brief is just a short summary. Long case briefs cannot make much sense because it is tiring to peruse over them. They are not so easy to skim through if you have to get prepared for a class or a test. And on the contrary, too short briefs are often not very helpful as they include just the minimal information.
Remember that case briefing is just a skill that you can always improve. The more practice you have, the better you become at it.
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