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Author Topic: CASE BRIEFING: What elements are critical? Is Westlaw right?  (Read 7063 times)

taplinb

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Hey all, I start in August (section one),

Please disregard this if you don't talk to newbies. According to Westlaw, the elements listed below in BOLD are essential to law school case briefing. Is this true at William Mitchell? If not, why, and for which courses? I hope to be very prepared for class. This is kind of a one-way street for me, giving up a career in IT and borrowing six figures to start over.

The [line maximum] notes are rough estimates from other sources, my goal being to become concise where it counts, e.g. in Certiorari briefs. Not that I know anything about all that. WRAP scares me as much as the next guy.

The stuff below the line is output from a web service I have in which I can fill in fields, then hit submit and have the results emailed to me and concurrently stored in a database. I think it's slick, but is there anything I might miss (other than in the event of an Internet failure)? I'd only use this approach for briefing. I might favor OneNote for outlining and WordPerfect for longer writing (that's a separate discussion).

Advice welcome.
-Brad


---- partial results of a test submission ----

CAPTION: Case, Court, Year of decision, Page in casebook
FACTS: [67 lines max] Legally relevant
PROCEDURAL HISTORY: From filing of suit to case's appearance in the
 court that wrote the opinion
ISSUES: [23 lines max] Factual and legal questions, broken down into
 parts
HOLDINGS: For each issue a "yes" or "no" then the legal principle on
 which the court relied
RATIONALE: For each issue, describe the court's chain of reasoning
DISPOSITION: Who won? What remedy? If appellate, did the court affirm
 in whole or in part?
CONCURRING and DISSENTING OPINIONS: Included in a casebook [for]
 interesting alternative analysis
READY FOR FINALS: No

Do or do not. There is no try. -Yoda

JohnnyAwesome

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Re: CASE BRIEFING: What elements are critical? Is Westlaw right?
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2007, 05:32:25 PM »
I don't go to WM but i'm sure briefs are simlear everywhere you look. For the beginning it is good to have a strict format for your briefs. I think I used, Parties, Facts, Procedural History, Issues, Holding Rationale. However your line estimates are way off. 67 lines for facts is more than you will likely see in the case itself. Looking at an old brief from Torts, my facts were 7 lines my issues were 2 and my holding and rationale was 8. If you want the brief i can send it to you. But remember briefs should be very brief, so the information is available quickly when you need it. If it's longer than the case, it's worthless information.

brewha

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Re: CASE BRIEFING: What elements are critical? Is Westlaw right?
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2007, 05:51:11 PM »
The MOST essential elements from that list are (1) Caption (page, parties, year, etc.; (2) Procedural History, and (3) "Ready for Finals?".   The fact that this web source included these as elements of a brief (Who the hell briefs anyways?), immediately alerts me to the fact that it is a grade-A resource. 

pudding is delightful

taplinb

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Re: CASE BRIEFING: What elements are critical? Is Westlaw right?
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2007, 10:04:48 AM »
Thank you for those helpful tips. I will shorten my entry fields.

I am using Insite Creation 2007 to build and maintain the form, an ASP.NET web system (about $80) that stores data in SQL Server 2005. That probably sounds more complicated than it is. Unfortunately, it doesn't let me specify other recipients of the output, only my database and one email address. That precludes sharing my form with others. I instantly get emailed a copy of whatever I enter, which may prove handy on my Blackberry during (or en route to) class the next day.

It's for my own use, but anybody could duplicate this with a good web provider and some effort and know-how. I'm using GoDaddy.com, which is affordable and OK, though setup took extra effort. Luckily, the support guy(s) at Insite Creation have been very helpful, and I don't need the features that I had trouble with, like Newsletters. All I want for this is online briefing, a forum for my study group, a blog that lets me upload files, and somewhat granular user security. Got all that.

If you want to see it, email me.
-Brad

Do or do not. There is no try. -Yoda

paintboy

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Re: CASE BRIEFING: What elements are critical? Is Westlaw right?
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2007, 12:15:47 PM »
WMCL rising 2L here...
The Mitchell Library has a bunch of resources and lists, including the following list of sources with briefing advice...
http://www.wmitchell.edu/library/documents/briefcase.pdf


While I think it is a good idea to get familliar with briefing before classes start and develop a system ahead of time, be aware that you will most likely need to adjust and adapt once you are in the day-to-day. Over time, parsing the signal vs noise becomes more second nature. A few profs are gotcha types who might quiz you on the semi-obscura to check for slacking and/or to keep the class on its toes, but I believe the vast majority of the faculty at wmcl tend to be concerned with the core parts of a case that made it worthy of inclusion in a casebook to begin with. If you happen to have one of the gotcha types, you'll learn that soon enough, and can adjust accordingly. As you go, revisit your previous briefs, and ask yourself if they...
(A)were helpfull at the time (in-class discussion of that case/theory)
and
(B) likely to be helpfull at the end of the semester (or whenever tested)

function trumps form

TheNewGuy

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Re: CASE BRIEFING: What elements are critical? Is Westlaw right?
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2007, 12:58:51 PM »
WMCL rising 2L here...
The Mitchell Library has a bunch of resources and lists, including the following list of sources with briefing advice...
http://www.wmitchell.edu/library/documents/briefcase.pdf


While I think it is a good idea to get familliar with briefing before classes start and develop a system ahead of time, be aware that you will most likely need to adjust and adapt once you are in the day-to-day. Over time, parsing the signal vs noise becomes more second nature. A few profs are gotcha types who might quiz you on the semi-obscura to check for slacking and/or to keep the class on its toes, but I believe the vast majority of the faculty at wmcl tend to be concerned with the core parts of a case that made it worthy of inclusion in a casebook to begin with. If you happen to have one of the gotcha types, you'll learn that soon enough, and can adjust accordingly. As you go, revisit your previous briefs, and ask yourself if they...
(A)were helpfull at the time (in-class discussion of that case/theory)
and
(B) likely to be helpfull at the end of the semester (or whenever tested)

function trumps form

I've worked on the Delaney book a bit and found it helpful

taplinb

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Re: CASE BRIEFING: What elements are critical? Is Westlaw right?
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2007, 05:40:52 AM »
Based on my first WRAP (legal writing, etc.) class meeting, I have trimmed my online case briefing form to the following. All line limits are soft, as in the form expands any section automatically, but if I stick to more or less these limits the briefs will be nice and brief and print, even from the form, on single pages.

CAPTION - 2 lines
FACTS - 5 lines
PROCEDURE - 5 lines
ISSUE - 5 lines
HOLDING - 5 lines
RULE and REASONING - 12 lines
CONCURRING and DISSENTING - 2 lines
READY FOR FINALS - picklist: no, partly, almost, or yes

The form spits the output into Google Docs, where I organize and pretty up the results. Then I can get to and edit the work from anywhere, e.g. lab computers in the library, my wife's Mac at home, a laptop at a coffeehouse...

Do or do not. There is no try. -Yoda

Peaches

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Re: CASE BRIEFING: What elements are critical? Is Westlaw right?
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2007, 08:15:39 AM »
Be aware that many of your classmates are not briefing at all or are only taking notes in the book.  I think that your briefing version may actually put you at a disadvantage.  First, it's not brief (boiling a case down to esential facts).  Second, it includes elements that will not be on the exams.  Remember that looking good in class (often worth 0%) and looking good on paper for exams (often worth 100%) are different.

I'm not preparing for class.  I'm preparing for the exam.

jacy85

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Re: CASE BRIEFING: What elements are critical? Is Westlaw right?
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2007, 08:43:46 AM »
Be aware that many of your classmates are not briefing at all or are only taking notes in the book.  I think that your briefing version may actually put you at a disadvantage.  First, it's not brief (boiling a case down to esential facts).  Second, it includes elements that will not be on the exams.  Remember that looking good in class (often worth 0%) and looking good on paper for exams (often worth 100%) are different.

I'm not preparing for class.  I'm preparing for the exam.

Says the 1L with 3 days of experience.