Law School Discussion

To Brief or Not To Brief???

To Brief or Not To Brief???
« on: August 25, 2005, 10:29:45 PM »
I am wondering whether you current students recommend briefing all of your assigned cases(as recommended in "How to Ace Law School) or to utilize an alternative to briefing approach as suggested in the book "Law School Confidential." Any responses will be greatly appreciated!!


Re: To Brief or Not To Brief???
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2005, 10:45:37 PM »
IMO, if you are taking a legal writing/research class, I say go with how they advise you to brief.  Then, as time goes on and you become better at pulling out the facts, procedures etc from the cases, modify your briefs to how they work best for you.

Re: To Brief or Not To Brief???
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2005, 05:16:37 AM »
I offer a strong vote against the Law School Confidential multi-color highlighter scheme.  Perhaps it worked well in the pre-laptop era, but even then only for the limited purpose of handling Socratic method.

The rainbow method is unnecessarily time consuming (why bother with more unnecessary confusion - should I count the opponent's arguments as "facts" or "reasoning" or "procedural posture? What about the dissent?  etc etc).  Most importantly, it's not helpful in the long run.  At the end of the semester, you have a very pretty colored casebook, but you can't do anything with it.

Re: To Brief or Not To Brief???
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2005, 05:28:42 AM »
I would strongly recommend it for 1L (at least the first semester). As tedious as it may seem, it is beneficial in general to prepare for classes, especially if you are one without a photographic memory (although law school will cured me of that). Everyone will be different, but I experimented with briefing and then later book briefing and I definitely retained the material better when I used briefs. It also helps once you get to research and writing. 

Re: To Brief or Not To Brief???
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2005, 05:59:42 AM »
I think briefing also helps you get some of the things that could be important, but you might miss if you're just reading. For example, procedural posture.

Now I generally make notes in margins (rarely highlight), but even that exercise helps me dissect a case a lot better than reading alone.

Re: To Brief or Not To Brief???
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2005, 06:11:08 AM »
I agree with Lawgirl.  Brief your first year as much as you can.  It gets faster as you get better at it.  I switched to book briefing and did not retain nearly as much material.  In fact, as a 2L I'm now briefing the major cases (when you get past 1L you learn which cases are the set-ups and which cases are the meat).  The set up cases get a brief-brief consisting of a one or two liner on the facts, the rules, and a note on what counted in the reasoning.  The major cases get a full-on brief. 

Highlight and margin note as you read. You'll find during the Socratic method the prof will ask pointed questions on details that aren't necessarily in your brief.  Notes and highlights will help you find the answers quickly.

For the sake of time you'll be tempted to skip briefing.  But I noticed that the students who did better in my classes always had a case brief up on their laptop screens.

Another point in favor of briefing is the immense help it will give you when you outline.

Some students can get by just fine with book briefing.  Unfortunately, you won't find out if you are one of those students until your first exam!     


Re: To Brief or Not To Brief???
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2005, 10:12:34 PM »
Here's a thought. Our Civ Pro prof has told us the only thing we can bring into the exam is our required textbooks and a copy of the FRCP, but no outlines or briefs or classnotes. What that told me was to mark that book up with as many notes and highlights as possible, even fill in info around the table of contents to make a mini outline.

Sh-t, don't tell me you're gonna make a lawyer out of me and then expect me not to bend rules.

Re: To Brief or Not To Brief???
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2005, 09:53:25 AM »
R.I.P. Briefing.  ;)