« on: June 10, 2005, 06:53:13 AM »
I agree with LawGirl, although for pure exam prep you could probably get away with using canned briefs, commercial outlines, and E&E books.
But I'd also add that you have to develop the skill of reading cases, finding the holding, understanding the reasoning, and determining which facts were relevant and which weren't to the holding. These skills are essential when you have to research an issue (a question of law) using cases and write and support your postition in memos, court briefs, etc. You probably won't write out a classroom style case brief for every case you look at during your research, but you will need to "mentally" brief cases you find to see if you can use them and what parts to use. It's tough to develop those skills without going through the process of writing out briefs, at least at the beginning.
Once you are comfortable writing out briefs, you can book brief. Book briefing is merely putting the information you would have put in a written brief in a summary form in the margins of the book and noting where the words in the textbook are, as opposed to writing them on a separate piece of paper. You still need to read the case and find the relevant portions; the process is the same, but you document it for your reference in the book.
Canned briefs are OK in a pinch (i.e. you couldn't prepare for a class) or as a guide to check your written or book brief. But I wouldn't rely on them exclusively very often. Also, I've found sometimes they aren't quite correct, or leave out facts, etc. that your professor might think important. Also, some professors know what is and isn't in them, so you can be asked about facts, etc. that are in the case but not in the brief.