Law School Discussion

1L Case Briefs

1L Case Briefs
« on: July 25, 2007, 05:54:15 PM »
Can somebody provide a useful case brief outline??? Also, if one is to include Procedural Details in their outline what kind of stuff should be included??? Thanks!!


Re: 1L Case Briefs
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2007, 11:27:50 AM »
The answer is no.

There are places online that you can see (bad) samples if you wish, but its  your own creation.  Part of the law school process is learning (painfully) things on your own and figuring out what's important and not important.  As such, that's a decision no one else can make for you. 

To get you started, I'll give you a small sample of the contents, which will duly be criticized by everyone who reads this post.

Caption - case name, citation, court, year, page in casebook.

Facts - what happened (a lot of students don't realize how important these really are)

Procedural history - what happeend in the lower courts, who won in the lower courts

Rule - what's the legal principle at the heart of the case

Issue - what is the (current) court deciding in this case?  (Look for the word "whether")

Holding - how the court applied the rule of law to the facts of the case

Rationale/Analysis - What made the court decide the way it did?  What legal or policy justifications did the court invoke?

Synthesis - What now?  What will the policy ramifications of this decision be?  How will society change as a result?  Who is the winner, who is the loser?

If you want, go find yourself a little case, read it very thoroughly, brief it, and pm your brief to me and I'll give you some feedback.

The important thing to remember is, case briefs are for your own good - professors just don't give a crap if it sucks because they don't read or otherwise look at them.

good luck.


  • ****
  • 2715
  • "i keeps it reeaal!"
    • View Profile
Re: 1L Case Briefs
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2007, 12:36:47 PM »
i took a UG class called legal methods and analysis or something like that, we did case briefs the exact way the previous poster described. i didn't find it particularly hard or difficult got an A in the class. i know it was a UG class but i've seen a few law school case briefs and don't see anything different. is there something about case briefs in law school that makes them harder?

Re: 1L Case Briefs
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2007, 01:18:02 PM »
You can get them on Lexis. They aren't bad, but you still have to read the case.


Re: 1L Case Briefs
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2007, 06:10:00 AM »
I'll show you mine, so you've got another sample to compare:
CASE NAME AND CITATION - self-explanatory
PARTIES - who's the P, who's the D
PROCEDURAL HISTORY - what happened below, how did the case get here?
DECISION - simply "affirmed" or "reversed" or "for P" or "for D" or something
FACTS - facts of the case
ISSUE - the legal question
RULE - this should usually be a quote from the case, where the court states the rule of law that applies
APPLICATION - how does the court apply the rule to the facts?
CONCLUSION - this is sometimes the same as "decision," but it can be longer
My notes and questions: - if there's something i don't get, or don't like, or something.  just miscellaneous comments i might have.

What I would do (what I did) is just pick a template - either mine, or Tyrone's, or something you found somewhere else, or just something you think will work, and don't worry about it too much.  Then, if you find that it doesn't work well for you, adjust it - don't get tied to anything if it doesn't work.

ProTip: Create a MS Word macro for your case brief template.  When I need to brief a case, all I have to do is ctrl-alt-b, and I'm ready to go!

Re: 1L Case Briefs
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2007, 09:22:23 AM »

This seems like a decent how-to on creating macros.

Thanks for the tip.  I think that things like this help you focus on what's important.  I'm all for automating repetitive tasks that don't teach anything new.

Re: 1L Case Briefs
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2007, 10:19:06 AM »
Our legal methods department sent out in the pre-orientation packet a recommendation to read:

"Law School without Fear:  Strategies for Success" by Helene Shapo and Marshall Shapo. 

In it is a chapter on briefing a case.  I found it very informative.  I actually found the whole book informative.  The writers are actual law professors who used the experience of one of the children attending law school, and their own experiences of teaching to craft this book.  I highly recommend it.

I actually feel pretty confident about briefing.  In undergrad, I took a Con Law class, where the prof was a recent grad of a law school.  She made us brief each and every case.  It's not very mysterious.

Re: 1L Case Briefs
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2007, 10:57:44 AM »
Thanks for all of your input guys!!!!! I will attempt it and see how it works out. The comment about creating a template for case briefs is very cool. I didn't think about it but it's a great idea!!

Keep the advice coming!