Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

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lawgod
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby lawgod » Fri Aug 12, 2011 6:08 pm

arvcondor wrote:I'm a 0L getting a little nervous for classes begin in a week. I've read every article in the "Collective Wisdom on How to Succeed in 1L" megathread, and every single one seems to advise against briefing cases. I understand the rationale that they're a huge time sink, but I don't get why you wouldn't want every piece of a case's ruling in your notes. In preparing for whatever curve balls may be thrown at you on an exam, wouldn't it be advisable to know all the motivations behind a judge's ruling, all relevant information for when it may apply to some cases and not to others, the facts of the case in the event that there are parallel cases on an exam, etc?

I'm assuming the answer is "No", but I'm still exactly unsure as to why.

Thanks for any help. I'd like to start off classes without flipping shit.


Correct. Because you have no idea what law school is.
Sure, start off briefing cases, and stop after a week. Just like we all did.

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kapital98
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby kapital98 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:22 pm

flcath wrote:I think you should do it, and phase it out right as you're starting to incorporate supplements and practice exams (both of which I think should be reserved for exam prep).

FWIW, there's a strong middle ground here that comes in the form of doing partial summaries (just enough to 'remind' you of the facts and law of a case).


This sounds like really good advice. I'll probably follow it regarding briefs.

I disagree with the supplements and test prep. They should be used throughout the semester.

kaiser
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby kaiser » Fri Aug 12, 2011 7:26 pm

I did full formal briefs for about 2 or 3 weeks before I realized how much more effective it was to just highlight and take notes in the margins. The point of briefing is to break down the essential components of the case. Once you learn to internalize this, and once you are better at picking this stuff out (which happens very quickly), you only need to write down a few quick notes to orient yourself.

People have a habit at the beginning of "losing the forest for the trees" in that they focus on the minutia of a case and can't filter out the things that aren't important from the stuff that is crucial to the holding and needs to be committed to memory. And almost everyone has a point of realization when they say "wow, nearly all the things im writing down aren't discussed during class or even seem that relevant to what the professor was focusing on". Then you realize how much time you could save by just noting the important things. Sure, until you hit that point, do some briefs and see how it works for you. Most people stop pretty quickly.

P.S. It does NOT matter how you look during class. Although never unprepared completely, I certainly made myself sound stupid and confused during cold calls. Unless your professor explicitly says that they grade on participation, do NOT worry about this. The exam is ALL that matters, not how eloquent and smart you sound during class.

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shepdawg
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby shepdawg » Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:01 am

I briefed every case. First semester I briefed before class, but second semester I book briefed before class and wrote out my briefs during class. I did better than 280 of my classmates, but I can't attribute that only to briefing.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:37 am

MY ADVICE:

Fully brief at first, because you don't know anything about the law at first. Do it until you have run through a month of classes and you begin to see what the professor is interested in. You will find - eventually - that you can look at a court opinion and see the structure. There IS a logical structure to *most* opinions. Eventually, you will begin to realize that you don't have to paraphrase the opinion - you can book brief - meaning making notes in the margin identifying "issue," "facts," "rule," "rule element discussion," "HOLDING (this one is important)," etc. - its organic, so don't be rigid, make useful notes as you feel you need them.

This is also why I recommend - despite the price - buying new books. Used books will be pre-highlighted and pre-annotated by some other student who was thinking different things than you - or worse, was an IDIOT. You cannot remove the emphasis placed by a prior student in a used book - those visual cues from the former students are VERY distracting, and, subconsciously, may interfere with your de novo review of the opinion. You will think - well, that student highlighted this part, it must be relevant - but it could be completely unimportant or only tangentally relevant.

I also NEVER used highlighter, only pencil. Why? Highlighter in permanant - but what if you highlight something not relevant? Now, if you ever go back, that irrelevant part will POP out at you, you can never de-emphasize highlighter, whereas pencil underlining can be erased and, at the least, doesn't overly signify importance.

Start briefing at first, evolve into book briefing when you are confident that if called on in class you can identify the relevant parts of an opinion. Eventually, if you are good, you can read an opinion and KNOW what the professor is going to be interested in.

As a TEST - listen in class. Is the professor pointing out parts of an opinion that you noted was important? When the professor is done pontificating, did you have to update your book brief? Or were you able to add stars to your notes to indicate you were right? If so, congratulations, you are winning. If not, pay attention and try and learn why you didn't see it.

I was #1 first semester 1L year, so I seemed to have figured out the game pretty well.

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JusticeHarlan
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby JusticeHarlan » Sat Aug 13, 2011 9:01 am

kapital98 wrote:I disagree with the supplements and test prep. They should be used throughout the semester.
How would you know? Why don't you go through at least a semester of 1L before giving advice on how to do it?


To OP, you should start out briefing, see if you find it helpful. It doesn't have to be a big time sink for most cases, once you get into a rhythm. Drop it if you think you don't need to. Some people brief the whole year and do well, others stop midway through and do just as well. But I say give it a shot.

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arvcondor
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby arvcondor » Sat Aug 13, 2011 3:53 pm

Thanks to everyone so far for chipping in. There's some really helpful stuff here.

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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby kaiser » Sat Aug 13, 2011 4:45 pm

JusticeHarlan wrote:
kapital98 wrote:I disagree with the supplements and test prep. They should be used throughout the semester.
How would you know? Why don't you go through at least a semester of 1L before giving advice on how to do it?


+1

Kapital, who the fuck are you to "disagree" with what would work or not work given that you have all of zero days in law school under your belt? Its one thing to question whether certain advice is sound (assuming you just want explanation or clarification), but quite another to tell a current student that he is incorrect. I'm so glad that you know how supplements and test prep "should be used". Law school has a way of humbling people, as I'm sure you will quickly learn.

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arvcondor
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby arvcondor » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:10 pm

Now that I've actually started reading/semi-briefing cases, I just want to clarify: The procedure is absolutely not important, correct?

Also, should dicta appear with the holding at all?

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beachbum
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby beachbum » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:26 pm

So I've been briefing for a week now and I'm about tired of it. Just seems like too much of a time-sink for too little reward, especially when there are fairly good briefs available online for most cases.

I think my new strategy is going to be to book brief (using different colors of highlighters to signify different elements of the case, a la Law School Confidential) and to review my work against online briefs for accuracy/thoroughness. I figure I'll do this for a week and see how I feel. Once I gain more confidence, I may just skip the canned briefs entirely in favor of highlighting and making notes in the margin. But we'll see how it goes. Right now, it just seems like too much of a workload to be writing up my own brief for every case.

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Naked Dude
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby Naked Dude » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:31 pm

betasteve wrote:
NotMyRealName09 wrote:MY ADVICE:

Fully brief at first, because you don't know anything about the law at first. Do it until you have run through a month of classes and you begin to see what the professor is interested in. You will find - eventually - that you can look at a court opinion and see the structure. There IS a logical structure to *most* opinions. Eventually, you will begin to realize that you don't have to paraphrase the opinion - you can book brief - meaning making notes in the margin identifying "issue," "facts," "rule," "rule element discussion," "HOLDING (this one is important)," etc. - its organic, so don't be rigid, make useful notes as you feel you need them.

This is also why I recommend - despite the price - buying new books. Used books will be pre-highlighted and pre-annotated by some other student who was thinking different things than you - or worse, was an IDIOT. You cannot remove the emphasis placed by a prior student in a used book - those visual cues from the former students are VERY distracting, and, subconsciously, may interfere with your de novo review of the opinion. You will think - well, that student highlighted this part, it must be relevant - but it could be completely unimportant or only tangentally relevant.

I also NEVER used highlighter, only pencil. Why? Highlighter in permanant - but what if you highlight something not relevant? Now, if you ever go back, that irrelevant part will POP out at you, you can never de-emphasize highlighter, whereas pencil underlining can be erased and, at the least, doesn't overly signify importance.

Start briefing at first, evolve into book briefing when you are confident that if called on in class you can identify the relevant parts of an opinion. Eventually, if you are good, you can read an opinion and KNOW what the professor is going to be interested in.

As a TEST - listen in class. Is the professor pointing out parts of an opinion that you noted was important? When the professor is done pontificating, did you have to update your book brief? Or were you able to add stars to your notes to indicate you were right? If so, congratulations, you are winning. If not, pay attention and try and learn why you didn't see it.

I was #1 first semester 1L year, so I seemed to have figured out the game pretty well.

I co-sign this. Briefing was helpful at first as an exercise, but when you can distill the reading without this tool (and you will be able to), then you an choose to no longer use it and switch to book briefing.

Also, remember that cold calling basically counts for nothing on you grade (even when they say it does). If you've read the material, it is highly unlikely you will be so bad that would merit a grade drop. Don't worry about being embarrassed... It doesn't matter. God, I got called out on numerous occasions and was the butt of a couple of professorial jabs... but my GPA turned out quite alright. I just didn't care about people thinking I didn't know what I was talking about. My friends knew I was up to speed, that's all that vaguely mattered to me.


Book briefing? How about a couple sentences or something? I am not a fan of margin notes/highlighting in general

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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby Oban » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:47 pm

The curve is the curve, people at the top middle and bottom brief, did not briefed, etc. Just try something, and if your fall grades aren't to your liking switch it up, but most of your grade comes down to exam performance, not preparation for class. A good outline > briefing. Time spent with old exames and learning what your proof wants is time better spent than briefing.

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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby MrPapagiorgio » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:56 pm

beachbum wrote:So I've been briefing for a week now and I'm about tired of it. Just seems like too much of a time-sink for too little reward, especially when there are fairly good briefs available online for most cases.

I think my new strategy is going to be to book brief (using different colors of highlighters to signify different elements of the case, a la Law School Confidential) and to review my work against online briefs for accuracy/thoroughness. I figure I'll do this for a week and see how I feel. Once I gain more confidence, I may just skip the canned briefs entirely in favor of highlighting and making notes in the margin. But we'll see how it goes. Right now, it just seems like too much of a workload to be writing up my own brief for every case.

+160. In all of my classes you can see students with pages of notes for a single assignment/case, but I don't think it will last. I think it is simply because we've only have a few classes and it is what they kids feel like they "should" be doing and don't want to sound stupid.

Except in contracts. First day the prof is like "when you read the cases, know the facts. Even the dates!"

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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby traydeuce » Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:03 pm

I am of a view opposite to that espoused by the people above. While I stopped formally briefing cases in September of my 1L year, the entirety of my exam prep, more or less, consists of a nuanced understanding of the cases. So yes, stop at book briefing (whatever that means, I don't know what book briefing is - writing notes in your book?), but don't do anything less than that. It's my opinion - admittedly, an unsupported one as I haven't experimented working the other way - that memorizing a bunch of rules in an acontextual fashion is the path to mediocrity. What I do in virtually all of my exams, and it's worked because I'm in the top 1% of Georgetown, is I'll say something like (the following is a paraphrase of an answer on an exam that won me a best exam award - the facts were that an anonymous informant told a cop a teacher would be carrying a gun into the school where he worked in a battered briefcase, and the officer stopped and frisked the teacher):

"in Florida v. J.L. the Court said anonymous tips could only give rise to reasonable suspicion if they're predictive, except in cases of great dangers. [That's the holding, the part that everyone throws onto their outline.] But what did the Court really mean by predictive? Well, they say that saying a guy's going to be on the corner wearing a plaid jacket and carrying a gun at 4:00 is not predictive; the plaid jacket, the Court wrote, only went to identity. What matters is predicting the criminal conduct. So here, in your fact pattern, when you say the informant said Teacher Larry would be carrying a gun in a battered briefcase, that's on the borderline, because in part it's a prediction about criminal conduct, but on the other, Teacher Larry may well just carry a briefcase around every day, so we could just see this as a piece of info about identity, like the plaid shirt. The latter's probably the better view; otherwise, any tip becomes "predictive" if you say someone will be carrying a weapon/contraband in a bag they carry all the time, when all that really shows is that you know they carry that bag. And what about the great dangers exception? Isn't carrying a gun to a school a great danger? Well we know that's not the case, because in J.L., the guy was supposedly carrying a gun, and the Court said that wasn't a great danger. However, just maybe, bringing a gun to a school, rather than a high-crime street corner where everyone's often shooting each other anyway, changes the analysis. But probably not, given that the Court's one example of a great danger is a bomb; the Court seems to be thinking in terms of large acts of terrorism, and guns would bring in a whole lot into the exception. If, however, the informant specifically said Teacher Larry was bringing the gun to school to shoot all his students, that would probably qualify. But a gun, standing alone, doesn't become a great danger just because of where you take it."

But what if you didn't remember all those facts, and all the Court's analysis? A whole lot could go wrong. If you just have the rule in your outline, and then you're confronted by this "prediction" that a teacher will carry a gun in a briefcase, you could say, "sounds predictive to me," and stop there, as predictive is a vague term and the Court's really using it in a peculiar way. Now, hopefully you're a better outliner than that, and you have read the case closely enough, in your outlining process, to make a note of what the Court means by predictive. But even then, what will you do with the gun in the school if you don't remember that J.L. itself was a case about a gun, and that the Court specifically mentioned bombs? Just grope around at the meaning of great danger. The moral of the story is that you can never talk sensibly about a rule unless you know the context from which it came. Rules are usually stated so generally that it's impossible to know what they mean until you see how they've been applied.
Last edited by traydeuce on Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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kalvano
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby kalvano » Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:05 pm

Whatever helps you understand "why this case" and how it relates to what you're studying.

traydeuce
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby traydeuce » Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:10 pm

arvcondor wrote:Now that I've actually started reading/semi-briefing cases, I just want to clarify: The procedure is absolutely not important, correct?

Also, should dicta appear with the holding at all?


Put dicta where you like, but there are supremely important dicta in a lot of cases that you'll read, and after a while you'll start to get a sense of which dicta those are. Procedure doesn't matter except in Civ Pro cases; there, what the case is actually about barely matters, and the procedure's all-important.

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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby shoeshine » Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:17 pm

traydeuce wrote:I am of a view opposite to that espoused by the people above. While I stopped formally briefing cases in September of my 1L year, the entirety of my exam prep, more or less, consists of a nuanced understanding of the cases. So yes, stop at book briefing (whatever that means, I don't know what book briefing is - writing notes in your book?), but don't do anything less than that. It's my opinion - admittedly, an unsupported one as I haven't experimented working the other way - that memorizing a bunch of rules in an acontextual fashion is the path to mediocrity. What I do in virtually all of my exams, and it's worked because I'm in the top 1% of Georgetown, is I'll say something like (the following is a paraphrase of an answer on an exam that won me a best exam award - the facts were that an anonymous informant told a cop a teacher would be carrying a gun into the school where he worked in a battered briefcase, and the officer stopped and frisked the teacher):

"in Florida v. J.L. the Court said anonymous tips could only give rise to reasonable suspicion if they're predictive, except in cases of great dangers. [That's the holding, the part that everyone throws onto their outline.] But what did the Court really mean by predictive? Well, they say that saying a guy's going to be on the corner with a plaid jacket at 4:00 is not predictive; the plaid jacket, the Court wrote, only went to identity. What matters is predicting the criminal conduct. So here, in your fact pattern, when you say the informant said Teacher Larry would be carrying a gun in a battered briefcase, that's on the borderline, because in part it's a prediction about criminal conduct, but on the other, Teacher Larry may well just carry a briefcase around every day, so we could just see this as a piece of info about identity, like the plaid shirt. The latter's probably the better view; otherwise, any tip becomes "predictive" if you say someone will be carrying a weapon/contraband in a bag they carry all the time, when all that really shows is that you know they carry that bag. And what about the great dangers exception? Isn't carrying a gun to a school a great danger? Well we know that's not the case, because in J.L., the guy was supposedly carrying a gun, and the Court said that wasn't a great danger. However, just maybe, bringing a gun to a school, rather than a high-crime street corner where everyone's often shooting each other anyway, changes the analysis. But probably not, given that the Court's one example of a great danger is a bomb; the Court seems to be thinking in terms of large acts of terrorism, and guns would bring in a whole lot into the exception. If, however, the informant specifically said Teacher Larry was bringing the gun to school to shoot all his students, that would probably qualify. But a gun, standing alone, doesn't become a great danger just because of where you take it."

But what if you didn't remember all those facts, and all the Court's analysis? A whole lot could go wrong. If you just have the rule in your outline, and then you're confronted by this "prediction" that a teacher will carry a gun in a briefcase, you could say, "sounds predictive to me," and stop there, as predictive is a vague term and the Court's really using it in a peculiar way. Now, hopefully you're a better outliner than that, and you have read the case closely enough, in your outlining process, to make a note of what the Court means by predictive. But even then, what will you do with the gun in the school if you don't remember that J.L. itself was a case about a gun, and that the Court specifically mentioned bombs? Just grope around at the meaning of great danger. The moral of the story is that you can never talk sensibly about a rule unless you know the context from which it came. Rules are usually stated so generally that it's impossible to know what they mean until you see how they've been applied.


This just blew my 1L mind.

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bceagles182
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby bceagles182 » Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:21 pm

There are two problems with the advice you are soliciting:

1. Different things work for different people, and all people on here can give you is advice based on what worked for them.
2. You don't even know if any of these people giving advice did well.

I graded onto law review, so I'll give you my thoughts, but please do keep in mind #1 (i.e. you ultimately need to figure this out for yourself).

If I were doing it again, I would start out briefing cases and phase it out later in the semester when you must. Briefing will help with any anxiety you have about coldcalling initially and give you a feel for the general layout of a case. When things pick up later in the semester, you won't have time to do everything, and at that point, you should not take time away from other things to continue briefing cases.

Briefing is not, generally, an efficient use of time. With that said, school will be a blur for the first few weeks and you briefs will help to gain your bearings. Of course, even if you do brief, MAKE SURE YOU STILL TAKE GOOD NOTES IN CLASS.

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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby Peace of Mind » Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:49 pm

relevant to my interests :)

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arvcondor
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby arvcondor » Wed Aug 24, 2011 11:59 pm

^^ Glad to see you're back.

traydeuce wrote:Big response
Thank you for the excellent, thought-out advice.


Would it be fair, then, to say assume that one doesn't need a multi-page brief to accomplish this? Would a few hundred words that encapsulate the crucial aspects/nuances of the case achieve this just as easily and more efficiently?

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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby Naked Dude » Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:08 am

traydeuce wrote:I am of a view opposite to that espoused by the people above. While I stopped formally briefing cases in September of my 1L year, the entirety of my exam prep, more or less, consists of a nuanced understanding of the cases. So yes, stop at book briefing (whatever that means, I don't know what book briefing is - writing notes in your book?), but don't do anything less than that. It's my opinion - admittedly, an unsupported one as I haven't experimented working the other way - that memorizing a bunch of rules in an acontextual fashion is the path to mediocrity. What I do in virtually all of my exams, and it's worked because I'm in the top 1% of Georgetown, is I'll say something like (the following is a paraphrase of an answer on an exam that won me a best exam award - the facts were that an anonymous informant told a cop a teacher would be carrying a gun into the school where he worked in a battered briefcase, and the officer stopped and frisked the teacher):

"in Florida v. J.L. the Court said anonymous tips could only give rise to reasonable suspicion if they're predictive, except in cases of great dangers. [That's the holding, the part that everyone throws onto their outline.] But what did the Court really mean by predictive? Well, they say that saying a guy's going to be on the corner wearing a plaid jacket and carrying a gun at 4:00 is not predictive; the plaid jacket, the Court wrote, only went to identity. What matters is predicting the criminal conduct. So here, in your fact pattern, when you say the informant said Teacher Larry would be carrying a gun in a battered briefcase, that's on the borderline, because in part it's a prediction about criminal conduct, but on the other, Teacher Larry may well just carry a briefcase around every day, so we could just see this as a piece of info about identity, like the plaid shirt. The latter's probably the better view; otherwise, any tip becomes "predictive" if you say someone will be carrying a weapon/contraband in a bag they carry all the time, when all that really shows is that you know they carry that bag. And what about the great dangers exception? Isn't carrying a gun to a school a great danger? Well we know that's not the case, because in J.L., the guy was supposedly carrying a gun, and the Court said that wasn't a great danger. However, just maybe, bringing a gun to a school, rather than a high-crime street corner where everyone's often shooting each other anyway, changes the analysis. But probably not, given that the Court's one example of a great danger is a bomb; the Court seems to be thinking in terms of large acts of terrorism, and guns would bring in a whole lot into the exception. If, however, the informant specifically said Teacher Larry was bringing the gun to school to shoot all his students, that would probably qualify. But a gun, standing alone, doesn't become a great danger just because of where you take it."

But what if you didn't remember all those facts, and all the Court's analysis? A whole lot could go wrong. If you just have the rule in your outline, and then you're confronted by this "prediction" that a teacher will carry a gun in a briefcase, you could say, "sounds predictive to me," and stop there, as predictive is a vague term and the Court's really using it in a peculiar way. Now, hopefully you're a better outliner than that, and you have read the case closely enough, in your outlining process, to make a note of what the Court means by predictive. But even then, what will you do with the gun in the school if you don't remember that J.L. itself was a case about a gun, and that the Court specifically mentioned bombs? Just grope around at the meaning of great danger. The moral of the story is that you can never talk sensibly about a rule unless you know the context from which it came. Rules are usually stated so generally that it's impossible to know what they mean until you see how they've been applied.


Yeah this pretty much confirms for me what I learned from LEEWS about the necessity of contextualizing the cases so you can then analogize with the rule/bll or something like that. If I remember correctly, Miller says to basically ignore procedure (unless it's civ pro obviously) and only look at issue/holdings to the extent that they teach you how to apply something, but that the facts are essential in seeing how rules are applied and predicting what exceptions there might be if the facts are changed around. I dunno.

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ilovesf
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby ilovesf » Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:53 am

arvcondor wrote:
Would it be fair, then, to say assume that one doesn't need a multi-page brief to accomplish this? Would a few hundred words that encapsulate the crucial aspects/nuances of the case achieve this just as easily and more efficiently?


:shock: I'm a silly one week 1L, but our LWR prof told us they shouldn't be more than a page.. I don't know how they would get to be so long, I thought your issues and rules can only be a sentence, unless it is a really complex case (which I'm sure we haven't gotten to yet because we are starting out on the easy side.)

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kalvano
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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby kalvano » Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:57 am

If you insist on briefing, they should look like these -

http://www.lawnix.com/cases/

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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby 071816 » Thu Aug 25, 2011 12:58 am

arvcondor wrote:Would it be fair, then, to say assume that one doesn't need a multi-page brief to accomplish this? Would a few hundred words that encapsulate the crucial aspects/nuances of the case achieve this just as easily and more efficiently?


Holy shit. All my briefs thus far have been half a page or less. I think, generally speaking, anything more than that would be overdoing it.

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Re: Still don't get why I shouldn't brief cases

Postby Naked Dude » Thu Aug 25, 2011 1:07 am

my briefs have been even shorter than half a page. i feel like shorter is better, because if you're not boiling it down for yourself, you're not doing as much mental work, and it's just more text to slog through later.




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