Briefing method....

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tram988
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Briefing method....

Postby tram988 » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:43 am

Hi Guys,

OL here who looking for some advice. I've recently begun reading law school confidential and have found their method of briefing cases enticing. LSC recommends that students use mulit-color highlighters to brief the cases as they unfold in the case book. For example, blue would signify the facts of the case while red would denote the reasoning and so forth. Can any current or past law student comment on this method? My SO (who is not in law school) casually suggested using this method in combination with my own-- AKA using Word the standard way.

Thanks so much everyone

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thesealocust
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby thesealocust » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:59 am

edit: n/m
Last edited by thesealocust on Sun Jun 27, 2010 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

lawschool7777
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby lawschool7777 » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:12 am

i just finished 1L year and am yet to brief a case...i am in the top 10% of my class, so I dont think briefing is really that helpful...all i did was write "holding", "rule", "procedure" etc in the margins so when i was called on in class, I would have the answers

tomwelling
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby tomwelling » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:39 am

lawschool7777 wrote:i just finished 1L year and am yet to brief a case...i am in the top 10% of my class, so I dont think briefing is really that helpful...all i did was write "holding", "rule", "procedure" etc in the margins so when i was called on in class, I would have the answers


Similar to me. I just underlined important stuff in the case so I would be prepared if called on.

I do know several people who used the multi-color approach and liked it a lot, but I just didn't think it was necessary. The only reason to brief is so you are ready for class, and I don't think it takes a lot of case briefing to be ready for class.

tram988
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby tram988 » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:58 am

tomwelling wrote:
lawschool7777 wrote:i just finished 1L year and am yet to brief a case...i am in the top 10% of my class, so I dont think briefing is really that helpful...all i did was write "holding", "rule", "procedure" etc in the margins so when i was called on in class, I would have the answers


Similar to me. I just underlined important stuff in the case so I would be prepared if called on.

I do know several people who used the multi-color approach and liked it a lot, but I just didn't think it was necessary. The only reason to brief is so you are ready for class, and I don't think it takes a lot of case briefing to be ready for class.


Thanks so much everyone. I'm trying to figure out some helpful methods now so I'm not too unprepared come Fall. So it seems like underlining and the highlighting are essentially the same concept. I may use the highlighters, albeit sparingly.

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feeblemiles
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby feeblemiles » Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:07 am

One easy trap is to highlight more than you need to. Whatever your method, try to keep things concise. A few sentences, bullet points, or highlights for each case should suffice. More will probably just slow you down as you try to review for finals.

06072010
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby 06072010 » Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:12 am

lawschool7777 wrote:i just finished 1L year and am yet to brief a case...i am in the top 10% of my class, so I dont think briefing is really that helpful...all i did was write "holding", "rule", "procedure" etc in the margins so when i was called on in class, I would have the answers


Yup. I also highlighted these things because I'm super lazy and the act of highlighting usually forces me to read it.

tram988
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby tram988 » Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:18 am

feeblemiles wrote:One easy trap is to highlight more than you need to. Whatever your method, try to keep things concise. A few sentences, bullet points, or highlights for each case should suffice. More will probably just slow you down as you try to review for finals.

I definitely agree. I don't plan on highlighting more than a sentence or two for each. While I was reading LSC, the highlighting method just seemed so perfect and easy, at least in theory.

ChewbaccaDefense
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby ChewbaccaDefense » Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:20 am

lawschool7777 wrote:i just finished 1L year and am yet to brief a case...i am in the top 10% of my class, so I dont think briefing is really that helpful...all i did was write "holding", "rule", "procedure" etc in the margins so when i was called on in class, I would have the answers

I think my method will look something like this. I'm a 0L, but like you, I'm thinking about this early. I've been out of school some time, so I'm taking some time to figure out how to be a student again.

While I can see briefing cases to be helpful in the very beginning, I'll probably have an Excel sheet setup to keep it clean, concise, and only what I need for the exam.

In the end, it's gotta be what works for you, and while I'm lining out what *might* work for me, I doubt it'll look exactly like what I'm envisioning now. I'd recommend combing these forums with a fine-toothed comb, read LSC, GTM, PLS, take all of the methods together, and pick and choose from all of them.

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RUQRU
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby RUQRU » Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:35 pm

While everyone is mentioning books, I'll put in a vote for Thane Messinger's

Law School: Getting In, Getting Good, Getting the Gold

    Paperback: 384 pages
    Publisher: Fine Print Press (October 10, 2008)
    ISBN-13: 978-188896080

Law School presents six major topics in the first year alone, each with dozens of cases and hundreds of additional sources. For most law students, understanding the meaning of even the most simple of legal concepts results in confusion, frustration, and even failure. Law students are smart, but unfamiliar with the terminology and reasoning of the law, as well as the framework of how each subject fits into a broader legal framework. Law schools operate on an inductive basis, while most students rely on informal, deductive learning. This book bridges the gap between the two. Further, it instructs law students how to learn the law on a deeper level of understanding - but with less unproductive and even wasted effort. In short: how to learn the law in less time and with better retention, comprehension, and genuine understanding.


Thane definitely thinks the rainbow method of briefing is a total waste of time. He is a very helpful author who sometime posts on this forum.

Tave
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby Tave » Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:15 pm

I found that I needed to brief cases at the beginning of the year to help me understand the way judges think and the law operates. About midway through first semester I had stopped briefing except for one particularly gnarly teacher.

Second semester, I briefed a couple of our early cases just to shake off the rust of X-mas break, and to cover my ass until I got a feel for each teacher's teaching style. Our Con law professor was very demanding, and I continued to "margin-brief" that class for the rest of the semester. When I say I did that, I don't mean that I wrote down "rule" and "procedure" in the margins--I mean I would write "rule" and "procedure," write summaries of every paragraph in the margins, underline important passages, and write down anything else that I could think of that was germane to the topic. That is probably more excessive than anything you'd need to do for Con law, but like I said, our teacher was really demanding. I spent more time on that class than any other, although I did extremely well on our final.

I also did extremely well on Contracts, and I didn't brief a single case and zoned-out for most of our discussions. Go figure.



Once you get in the swing of things, you'll get a good feel for how much information you can retain just doing the reading, how much briefing does/doesn't help you, and how well you understand the material in general. Don't sweat it--just do what you need to do.

solidsnake
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby solidsnake » Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:52 pm

Everyone I know inside the top 5% book briefs. Writing/typing out a brief is a waste of time, and, in law school, you don't have time to waste.

Tave
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby Tave » Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:10 pm

solidsnake wrote:Everyone I know inside the top 5% book briefs. Writing/typing out a brief is a waste of time, and, in law school, you don't have time to waste.


I know a few people at the top of my class who just book brief, or don't brief at all, and I know a few who brief cases like it's their job. I think it really depends on the individual.

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RUQRU
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby RUQRU » Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:10 am

tram988:

You might find this book, by Professor John Delaney helpful. He gives a good introduction to what legal reasoning is all about and then show you how to analyze cases. He has some videos on YouTube if you want to get an idea of his teaching method. He is retired now, but taught for many years at NYU and CUNY.

His insights into legal reasoning are far more sophisticated than feel good rainbow highlighting advocated by some.

Learning Legal Reasoning: Briefing, Analysis and Theory (Delaney Series)

ImageImageImage

This widely used book in many printings begins with answers to forty commonly asked questions of first-year law students. It specifies a six-step approach to briefing a case with specific guidelines for accomplishing each step. The process of briefing cases is then demonstrated with excellent and poor briefs of increasing complexity. Emphasis is placed initially on the techniques of briefing as an introduction to the learning of legal reasoning, the first priority of the first year of law school. In addition, the book also demonstrates the relevance of more advanced modes of legal reasoning, including positivist, pragmatic, policy oriented, natural-law and other perspectives applied in decoding and understanding cases. In its introduction of jurisprudential perspectives, Learning Legal Reasoning transcends the typical technical/positivist orientation of most first-year materials.


Professor Delaney has published some helpful info on his website:

http://www.johndelaneypub.com/catalog/professors_advice.php?osCsid=aaebf07ad929efdf0737dcb507d455b4
http://www.johndelaneypub.com/catalog/professors_advice.php?&tempid=6
http://www.johndelaneypub.com/catalog/professors_advice.php?&tempid=3
http://www.johndelaneypub.com/catalog/professors_advice.php?&tempid=2

legends159
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby legends159 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:49 am

Make sure to take detailed class notes. Usually class notes are much more important than your reading notes, though reading the cases and understanding them will help you understand the class discussion more.

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Cavalier
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby Cavalier » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:07 am

Briefing cases is pointless, unless you want to be super prepared for cold calls (which is also pointless). Personally, I used two highlighters - one for facts, and one for everything else (holdings, dicta, policy arguments, etc.) But two isn't necessary - you could easily get by with one, or even just by underlining with a pen. If I came across something that I thought might be relevant to a cold call, I would write down a word or two in the margins. For instance, I might "procedure," or "holding," or "rule," or "rationale" where appropriate.

That said, after you've discussed a case in class, you might want to combine the highlighted parts in your casebook with your notes from class to form a somewhat detailed description of it in a Word document. That way, in the event that a question about the case comes up on an exam, you'll have more than just a one-sentence rule from the case in your outline.

jetlagz28
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby jetlagz28 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:07 am

I did the multicolored approach for some time first semester. The last month or so I stopped doing it. It helped a lot at first.

tram988
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby tram988 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:25 am

Thanks everyone for the helpful posts! I think I may check out those Delaney books; it couldn't hurt right? Any good books on outlining?

Unbiasedfanboy
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby Unbiasedfanboy » Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:40 am

tram988 wrote:Thanks everyone for the helpful posts! I think I may check out those Delaney books; it couldn't hurt right? Any good books on outlining?


Hi Tram,

I think you are in the correct mind set to work hard 1L year, but I don't think a book on outlining can help you before you start law school. Briefing and outlining is something you have to learn by doing. A book may help, but you need experience briefing/outlining for any book to be really meaningful. I would recommend spending the summer relaxing before the storm.

I, personally, skimmed Getting to Maybe the week before 1L year and thought that the quick look helped me focus my notes the first week. However, I would have actually gotten something out of the book if I read it a month or so into school.

Good luck!

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thexfactor
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby thexfactor » Thu Jun 10, 2010 3:58 pm

+1
My method is kinda the opposite of what you SHOULD do. I read an online brief of hte caeses we are going to discuss the next day. Then during that class, I pay attention for the whole hour. Yes.. that means no FB or gmail chat.....
Then every weekend, I review the stuff we discussed in class.
Also, making your own outline is useless. Why re invent the wheel?
memorizing your outline is necessary but it is not sufficient in you getting a good grade. The key is to figure out how to apply all the material you just learned.

Cavalier wrote:Briefing cases is pointless, unless you want to be super prepared for cold calls (which is also pointless). Personally, I used two highlighters - one for facts, and one for everything else (holdings, dicta, policy arguments, etc.) But two isn't necessary - you could easily get by with one, or even just by underlining with a pen. If I came across something that I thought might be relevant to a cold call, I would write down a word or two in the margins. For instance, I might "procedure," or "holding," or "rule," or "rationale" where appropriate.

That said, after you've discussed a case in class, you might want to combine the highlighted parts in your casebook with your notes from class to form a somewhat detailed description of it in a Word document. That way, in the event that a question about the case comes up on an exam, you'll have more than just a one-sentence rule from the case in your outline.

Miniver
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby Miniver » Thu Jun 10, 2010 4:08 pm

...
Last edited by Miniver on Wed Jul 07, 2010 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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stab master arson
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby stab master arson » Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:31 am

I found LSC useful in a number of ways, but its approach to briefing is not one of them. Waste of time and money, and quite messy to boot. Absolutely useless for classes where cases are tested on the exam, like con law and civil procedure. To that extent, I view a terse, effective case brief as another potential arrow in my quiver of Stuff I Can Mention In My Answers Because Many Professors Like That Shit If You Can Apply It.

Yeah, there's a general framework for it -- facts, issue, holding -- but like others have said, everyone develops his own style. (I do NOT recommend copying and pasting Westlaw or Lexis summaries, which I find to be lacking. Skipping reading the case entirely: also a really, really bad idea.) For my briefs, I started a separate tab in OneNote for cases, dividing them by topic. I set up MOST of the briefs so they'd be scannable on the exam (where the exam was open-note). Each looked a little like this:

TOPIC OF LAW
Smith v. Jones (1974): No more than two short sentences about the facts. The basic facts are worth being familiar with because many professors like to model their exam questions on cases discussed in class, usually with a slight variation to test your ability to apply the holdings. What is the legal issue in this case? A summary of the court's rationale, no more than three or four sentences. I try to keep it short, but I usually pull relevant parts of quotes from the court's opinion that provide a terse summation of the holding. Plus some professors have a hard-on for "terms of art" the judges come up with in some of these cases. One brief sentence with the case's rule, which I paste into my outline in the appropriate place, assuming the case is "good" law that hasn't been overturned.

For class-preparedness, I did this and also underlined in the casebook stuff like the parties' basic arguments, key facts that ended up being determinative to the court's decision, the court's view of the law from another case (if one is discussed at length in the opinion), policy statements, etc. It really depends on what the prof likes to grill his class on.

Earlier, I said I do this for MOST cases. Some cases -- especially in con law -- are so important that the court's analysis IS THE LAW on a given topic and you will have no choice but to have read and taken notes on them. Perfect example: the Youngstown case on separation-of-power questions. Another one: Hanna v. Plumer for "Erie" questions in civ pro (don't ask).

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jp0094
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Re: Briefing method....

Postby jp0094 » Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:05 am

I finished 1L in the the top 10%. I think I briefed most every case. My brief basically consisted of a very very short summation of the facts, the issue, the holding, the rule, and then random bits of rationale as I thought were important. I feel typing it out helps me to remember it. It also pays off towards the end of a semester in compiling an outline because you don't necessarily have to crawl through your book for the important information. I never use highlighters and just underline or star next to important paragraphs. I think most students will decide within the first month or two whether briefing is valuable to them and move on from there. I would agree with one of the posters above that briefing is "completely useless" for some people, but for others can be valuable.




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