How important are cases

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are cases important?

yeah-supplements are most useful to supplement your reading
36
68%
no-supplements and the rest teach you everything
17
32%
 
Total votes: 53

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underdawg
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How important are cases

Postby underdawg » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:38 pm

It's funny how a lot of study guides think that cases are relatively useless in figuring out the law. I think the exact opposite. Cases show application of law to the facts in action. You can see reasoning, policy, all that good shit. Now briefing is still useless (who gives a crap about procedural history, for example), but I fail to see how people can do well without understanding the reasoning at least in the vast majority of cases. Supplements are all well and good, but I still think the casebook teaches the law, and even the much-maligned questions that casebook ask are good (if often sort of impossible to answer).

So I'm wondering what everyone else thinks. Are cases important?

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wiseowl
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Re: How important are cases

Postby wiseowl » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:56 pm

there should be a third option - depends on the class and the professor

mrmediocre
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Re: How important are cases

Postby mrmediocre » Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:10 pm

i learned this the hard way, being unable to verbalize the reasoning behind my intuitions on law school exams cost me dearly (though I know the law as well as anyone at my school)

cases

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steve_nash
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Re: How important are cases

Postby steve_nash » Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:12 pm

.
Last edited by steve_nash on Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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tome
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Re: How important are cases

Postby tome » Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:47 pm

I read all the cases, and I write a paragraph or two on each. I thought it was key, as it gives a context for the BLL.

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rayiner
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Re: How important are cases

Postby rayiner » Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:53 pm

During the semester, I just read the cases and case notes carefully and book-briefed. Before finals, I put together my outlines from the casebooks, but referenced to supplements to make sure I got the BLL down right. For Civ Pro and Contracts, I did some of the MC questions in the supplements to tighten my understanding of the BLL.

Then again, my learning style is such that I can't really remember a rule without all the context given by the case. If you have a better memory, just reading the BLL from the supplement and doing hypos is probably more efficient.

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20160810
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Re: How important are cases

Postby 20160810 » Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:55 pm

I think they're pretty important. I would argue that it's at least beneficial to know the rules and a general overview of the fact patterns, because I found that some of my profs made final exam hypos that closely followed cases we'd studied. But I don't think I'd have done as well if I'd JUST read the cases. I also think that reading hornbooks to see the cases put in the broader context of the law was really helpful to me.

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Aeroplane
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Re: How important are cases

Postby Aeroplane » Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:57 pm

If you're the kind of person who learns from examples (me), cases are invaluable. I could never learn law from a hornbook, and honestly my eyes glaze over just paging through one. I tried it very early in the semester and ditched it immediately. Also, I can't memorize stuff, so like rayiner, I need the context of the case to remember the rule by.

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tome
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Re: How important are cases

Postby tome » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:01 pm

betasteve wrote:I will also say that I think it is important to read the case in light of why that case is in the textbook.


This is key. I forgot this a few times and ended up wasting time.

I hardly ended up using supplements at all. But I think my professors were pretty straight-up about what they wanted us to understand.

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PDaddy
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Re: How important are cases

Postby PDaddy » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:19 pm

underdawg wrote:It's funny how a lot of study guides think that cases are relatively useless in figuring out the law. I think the exact opposite. Cases show application of law to the facts in action. You can see reasoning, policy, all that good shit. Now briefing is still useless (who gives a crap about procedural history, for example), but I fail to see how people can do well without understanding the reasoning at least in the vast majority of cases. Supplements are all well and good, but I still think the casebook teaches the law, and even the much-maligned questions that casebook ask are good (if often sort of impossible to answer).

So I'm wondering what everyone else thinks. Are cases important?


But in some cases, wouldn't procedural history impact the reasoning? For innstance, if you have a federal case defendant raising Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata as affirmative defenses due to the results in state court, but the federal court case raises issues that weren't actually litigated to a conclusion, wouldn't procedural history (including state court appeals) be important, especially if the state court made errors that prejudiced the case that the defendant won? Procedure becomes an "issue", right?

It seems to me that procedural history reinforces different ways of spotting relevant issues.

Ignatius J. Reilly
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Re: How important are cases

Postby Ignatius J. Reilly » Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:43 pm

Cases. You have to read the cases to put the rules in context. Also, the cases are invaluable for getting the policy behind the rules, which can earn you extra points on the exam. Lastly, and most practically, you have to read the cases in case you are called on in class. You're not going to get the facts or procedural posture of a case from a supplement.

traydeuce
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Re: How important are cases

Postby traydeuce » Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:43 am

Cases are important. For a very simple reason. No supplement perfectly mirrors what your professor's said in class, or the limited range of cases you've covered. Any supplement you look at is going to (a) say things you didn't learn and (b) not say things you did, and in many cases (c) contradict what you learned. Even my Civ Pro professor's own supplement, authored by him, in some cases contradicts what he says in class and constantly simplifies what we talked about in class to the point where it's really more suitable for, I don't know, studying for a 30-minute pop quiz than a law school exam. On another practical note, many law school exams repeat the facts of a case you've read - with certain changes, of course. Now, it can be dangerous to say, "that's just like the case we read, it should come out the same way," but in those situations they are looking for you to hopefully remember the case and talk about why their fact pattern is different, if it is different in some relevant way. Besides that, I don't think that you can really understand how to apply the rules you see in supplements without cases, or learn how to recognize fact patterns to which those rules apply without reading cases. I also think that you learn rules better when there's a story in your mind that accompanies them. For contracts I essentially derived my outline straight from the cases; the only thing I used a supplement for was to look at their examples and explanations. Again, a supplement might contain a much more nuanced version of the mailbox rule, for example, than what you learned, and don't assume that your contracts professor whose real specialty is shareholder rights is aware of that more nuanced version. He reads the cases he assigned you and that's it.

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underdawg
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Re: How important are cases

Postby underdawg » Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:57 am

PDaddy wrote:
underdawg wrote:It's funny how a lot of study guides think that cases are relatively useless in figuring out the law. I think the exact opposite. Cases show application of law to the facts in action. You can see reasoning, policy, all that good shit. Now briefing is still useless (who gives a crap about procedural history, for example), but I fail to see how people can do well without understanding the reasoning at least in the vast majority of cases. Supplements are all well and good, but I still think the casebook teaches the law, and even the much-maligned questions that casebook ask are good (if often sort of impossible to answer).

So I'm wondering what everyone else thinks. Are cases important?


But in some cases, wouldn't procedural history impact the reasoning? For innstance, if you have a federal case defendant raising Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata as affirmative defenses due to the results in state court, but the federal court case raises issues that weren't actually litigated to a conclusion, wouldn't procedural history (including state court appeals) be important, especially if the state court made errors that prejudiced the case that the defendant won? Procedure becomes an "issue", right?

It seems to me that procedural history reinforces different ways of spotting relevant issues.

ok smartypants

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Who32
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Re: How important are cases

Postby Who32 » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:39 am

Most important reason why I read cases is so I can pay attention in class. Without reading the cases it's hard to follow along, and if you don't follow along in class you miss the way the prof wants things done/worded. I switch it up between book briefing and normal short briefs depending on my motivation. But, overall, I don't find the cases to be extraordinarily important. I did well in a few classes without reading cases, mastering BLL and doing hypos.

VincentChase
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Re: How important are cases

Postby VincentChase » Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:07 pm

Who32 wrote:Most important reason why I read cases is so I can pay attention in class.


This is a big reason that I read the cases and brief the reading, as well. It helps me be an active participant in class - not active as in raising my hand and gunning, but supplementing my notes as we go, filling in gaps, etc., etc.

Titus
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Re: How important are cases

Postby Titus » Mon Jan 25, 2010 6:34 pm

wiseowl wrote:there should be a third option - depends on the class and the professor


I agree with this. My torts and criminal law professors were on total opposites of the spectrum. My torts professor LOVED policy analysis and had no limits on his answers whatsoever. My criminal law professor has distinct word limits and takes off points for going over. The word limits are so small, given the hypos, that an exam answer would need to read. "Sam is guilty of crime. [Citation, if needed] If there was an ambiguity, point it out, state an opinion and move on.

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rayiner
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Re: How important are cases

Postby rayiner » Mon Jan 25, 2010 6:47 pm

So an additional data point. I just had a conference with my professor who taught the class I got the lowest exam score in. This was the one class where I used a supplement as a replacement for reading the cases carefully and taking good notes in class, instead of just references to check that my understanding of the law was correct. I lost a substantial number of points by stating points of law that the supplement brought up, but that were not covered in the class and were incorrect statements of the law in an MPC jurisdiction.

Of course the supplements didn't lead me astray, per se, but all those extraneous things I'd learned in the supplement kind of just blended together in my head during the exam and I made mistakes as a result.

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PSLaplace
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Re: How important are cases

Postby PSLaplace » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:09 pm

It really does depend on the class and professor.

For professors that go over many cases, but somewhat superficially, all you're interested in is extracting the rule from the case; this can be done by reading supplements. However if the professor covers few cases, but examines them closely, he is probably expecting you to make arguments from analogy; in these classes, reading the cases becomes much more important.

And for Civil Procedure, I think studying the E&E as a substitute to reading/briefing the cases can't hurt you (this is what I did after the first couple of weeks; I got an A). There is an oft-quoted remark that trying to learn Civ Pro by reading cases is like trying to learn the rules of Monopoly without the board.

VincentChase
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Re: How important are cases

Postby VincentChase » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:33 pm

It almost feels like the only reason there is even a casebook for Civ Pro is because of some obligation to 1L year tradition. It's a waste.

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wiseowl
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Re: How important are cases

Postby wiseowl » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:55 pm

VincentChase wrote:It almost feels like the only reason there is even a casebook for Civ Pro is because of some obligation to 1L year tradition. It's a waste.


sorta true, but you have to have cases for SMJ and PJ
Last edited by wiseowl on Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sperry
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Re: How important are cases

Postby sperry » Tue Jan 26, 2010 5:08 pm

VincentChase wrote:It almost feels like the only reason there is even a casebook for Civ Pro is because of some obligation to 1L year tradition. It's a waste.




My Civ Pro exam focused almost entirely on the cases.

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tome
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Re: How important are cases

Postby tome » Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:33 pm

sperry wrote:
VincentChase wrote:It almost feels like the only reason there is even a casebook for Civ Pro is because of some obligation to 1L year tradition. It's a waste.




My Civ Pro exam focused almost entirely on the cases.


Ditto. How can you meaningfully answer any Civ Pro question without looking at how the courts interpret the FRCP--not to mention jurisdiction and choice of law.

CCA
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Re: How important are cases

Postby CCA » Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:18 pm

I have to disagree about the cases being unimportant for civ pro. My professor was very into cases, and it made the class and federal rules much easier to understand. I never looked at any supplement and it turned out to be my best grade. As for torts, that is a class where I regret wasting time reading the cases.There was too much variety for cases to be useful.People in the class who looked only at hornbooks did much better than me in torts. If I could do torts over again, I would have looked at supplements only.

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edcrane
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Re: How important are cases

Postby edcrane » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:13 pm

rayiner wrote:So an additional data point. I just had a conference with my professor who taught the class I got the lowest exam score in. This was the one class where I used a supplement as a replacement for reading the cases carefully and taking good notes in class, instead of just references to check that my understanding of the law was correct. I lost a substantial number of points by stating points of law that the supplement brought up, but that were not covered in the class and were incorrect statements of the law in an MPC jurisdiction.

Of course the supplements didn't lead me astray, per se, but all those extraneous things I'd learned in the supplement kind of just blended together in my head during the exam and I made mistakes as a result.


This is one of the primary reasons that I don't use supplements. It's just too easy to go beyond the scope of your class and, at best, waste time learning things that won't be tested or, worse, accidentally misapply things that weren't taught.

VincentChase
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Re: How important are cases

Postby VincentChase » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:33 pm

CCA wrote:I have to disagree about the cases being unimportant for civ pro. My professor was very into cases, and it made the class and federal rules much easier to understand. I never looked at any supplement and it turned out to be my best grade. As for torts, that is a class where I regret wasting time reading the cases.There was too much variety for cases to be useful.People in the class who looked only at hornbooks did much better than me in torts. If I could do torts over again, I would have looked at supplements only.


I think this goes to the heart of what somebody said earlier.

Depends on the professor. I know that's not the answer people like, because they want to hear the One True Key to conquering law school, some sort of unifying theory, but it really is the truth.

For most classes, though, I would heavily suggest reading the cases and internalizing them. A lot of times - the Dukeminier Krier Property casebook comes to mind - the best policy and BLL material is actually within the written case opinions.

The average student could probably get by without case reading and still land in the vast middle. I think it would be very hard to finish top of the class without scouring the cases with a fine tooth comb. I know that I wouldn't want to take the risk to figure out if I was the kind of student who could do it without spending time and energy on cases.

My best case advice would be to try to stay a day or two ahead so that you can read slowly and surely every time instead of just rushing to finish, which really is a waste of your time because you're just preparing for cold calls.
Last edited by VincentChase on Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.




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