What matters from a case for the final exam?

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TLSNYC
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What matters from a case for the final exam?

Postby TLSNYC » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:18 pm

A couple of weeks into law school, I'm beginning to realize that the classes are not structured to reflect the exams. Judging by my professors old exams, they (like every other law prof) want you to apply the law to a fact pattern. My question is how is briefing cases helping me?

From what I understand, all I really need for the final is some 2-3 sentence version of the issue, rule, holding for each case that can be incorporated into the outline. For landmark cases, I may need to include context on what makes them so cool. Is this generally accurate or am I missing stuff that's significant?

If the above is true, then how should I be spending my time in law school? Briefing cases to look smart in class is unimportant to me. But it's too early to start outlining and way, way too early to take practice exams. Should I be reading any supplements (if my profs have recommended them) to flesh out my understanding of the course?

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ph14
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Re: What matters from a case for the final exam?

Postby ph14 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:21 pm

TLSNYC wrote:A couple of weeks into law school, I'm beginning to realize that the classes are not structured to reflect the exams. Judging by my professors old exams, they (like every other law prof) want you to apply the law to a fact pattern. My question is how is briefing cases helping me?

From what I understand, all I really need for the final is some 2-3 sentence version of the issue, rule, holding for each case that can be incorporated into the outline. For landmark cases, I may need to include context on what makes them so cool. Is this generally accurate or am I missing stuff that's significant?

If the above is true, then how should I be spending my time in law school? Briefing cases to look smart in class is unimportant to me. But it's too early to start outlining and way, way too early to take practice exams. Should I be reading any supplements (if my profs have recommended them) to flesh out my understanding of the course?


I have the same questions. I'm starting my 3rd week now, and I think that briefing for the most part is a waste of time. I think I will write briefs myself if I can do it quickly, but if it's a long or complicated case (ie, Pennoyer), i'll just get a brief from online.

Still trying to figure out myself what supplements I should be reading and when. As well as when and how to outline.

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dood
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Re: What matters from a case for the final exam?

Postby dood » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:33 pm

ITS NEVER TOO EARLY TO START OUTLINING BRO

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Aberzombie1892
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Re: What matters from a case for the final exam?

Postby Aberzombie1892 » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:41 pm

I've already started outlining...

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holdencaulfield
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Re: What matters from a case for the final exam?

Postby holdencaulfield » Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:19 am

OP, you are not incorrect; but I think reading and understanding the cases is vitally important. Knowing the reasoning behind the ruling/rule and the reasoning behind it can prove valuable and/or necessary on the exam and in practice; if you accomplish this, you'll have your 2-3 sentences while also being able to competently discuss the case since both require knowing the basic facts in addition to the rule.

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5ky
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Re: What matters from a case for the final exam?

Postby 5ky » Tue Sep 13, 2011 1:06 am

1. Solid understand of the facts underlying the dispute. Do not get this confused with thinking you need to know the factual complexities of each case. Oftentimes the cases give in-depth treatment to background information to familiarize the reader with what is going on. This is less important than understanding the facts that directly led to the dispute.

2. Arguments of either party. I always found it helpful to include a brief sentence or two with the arguments that each party was proffering. Applying law to fact is key for law school exams, and one way to do this is to compare/contrast arguments from prior cases to the hypothetical to explain why that would apply in this particular case (explaining how the factual situations are similar), or why it would not (explaining how the factual situations are different).

3. Holding. Basic stuff you should probably have down, i.e. for which party the court ruled. Need to know this to make use of 1 or 2, or 4.

4. Court's analysis. Very similar to 2, and often overlaps heavily. This is more important to know than the individual party's arguments, but most people will know this for any given case. What they might not know is some of the more minor/arcane points that prior parties raised, which you can raise on your exam.

uci2013
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Re: What matters from a case for the final exam?

Postby uci2013 » Thu Sep 15, 2011 11:02 pm

In my experience, the rule(s) is the most important thing to take away from the case. Where there is a majority and a minority rule you might want to pay more attention to the reasoning, which courts are saying what and how the rule is evolving over time. And where the rule seems to be applied inconsistently you might want to look at the facts of the different cases more carefully to see if you can reconcile the interpretations and then on a final fact paper show how your facts is more like one case or another.

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Flips88
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Re: What matters from a case for the final exam?

Postby Flips88 » Thu Sep 15, 2011 11:09 pm

We just had an outlining seminar today and the prof recommended waiting a few more weeks and to condense your notes and outline when you reach the end of a section in class i.e. when you finish personal jurisdiction in civ pro or finish remedies or formation or whatever in Contracts. She stressed the important takeaway from the briefs were the rules, including whether they are an expansion of a precedent or an exception to a former rule. You want to tease the rules out into concise elements as much as possible. You can have some hypos showing the application of the rule (I think this is where fact patterns from case briefs would be useful) She also suggested having a part covering the policy implications of the rule and your professor's view on it if they indicate one so you know how to gear your argument on the exam.

mrloblaw
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Re: What matters from a case for the final exam?

Postby mrloblaw » Thu Sep 15, 2011 11:57 pm

TLSNYC wrote:A couple of weeks into law school, I'm beginning to realize that the classes are not structured to reflect the exams. Judging by my professors old exams, they (like every other law prof) want you to apply the law to a fact pattern. My question is how is briefing cases helping me?

From what I understand, all I really need for the final is some 2-3 sentence version of the issue, rule, holding for each case that can be incorporated into the outline. For landmark cases, I may need to include context on what makes them so cool. Is this generally accurate or am I missing stuff that's significant?

If the above is true, then how should I be spending my time in law school? Briefing cases to look smart in class is unimportant to me. But it's too early to start outlining and way, way too early to take practice exams. Should I be reading any supplements (if my profs have recommended them) to flesh out my understanding of the course?


You should know the fact patterns well enough to draw analogies to those presented on the exam. E.g., "In Case X, the court held Y because of Z. Here, because the facts are Z-prime instead, the court might go the other way." The court will often ramble on in dicta about how it would rule were the facts different; this certainly cements your understanding of the rules and helps you draw analogies. That plus the legal rules (including minority rules) and you're probably gold.

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Bronte
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Re: What matters from a case for the final exam?

Postby Bronte » Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:32 am

Your general understanding of the role of cases is correct. This means you should not be briefing because briefing overallocates your time to the cases. You should read cases quickly, writing a sentence or two detailing the relevant facts (there are usually less than two sentences of relevant facts) in the margin and highlighting the primary holding and key points of reasoning. You should go to every class and pay very close attention, taking scrupulous notes.

You should start outlining in the last third of the semester. An outline should contain all the blackletter law, derived in whatever manner necessary (from the cases, classnotes, Restatements, statutes, or supplements, depending on the way the class is run). Beyond the blackletter law, you should be understanding the policy concerns and most importantly the reasons why every case you read is provocative, controversial, questionable, or wrong. Almost every case is selected for one of these reasons. The point is to understand the blackletter law and then be very critical of the blackletter law.

Then you should take a lot of practice tests.

Sandro
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Re: What matters from a case for the final exam?

Postby Sandro » Fri Sep 16, 2011 12:40 am

I'd say most ppl harp on not outlining right now. is there any harm to gathering my pages and pages of raw notes into more specific subheadings (keyed to book chapter/section maybe?) right now ? I cant imagine waiting until end of october to parse through hundreds of pages of class notes when if I have a little extra time right now could make it a little easier

?

waxecstatic
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Re: What matters from a case for the final exam?

Postby waxecstatic » Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:07 pm

Sandro wrote:I'd say most ppl harp on not outlining right now. is there any harm to gathering my pages and pages of raw notes into more specific subheadings (keyed to book chapter/section maybe?) right now ? I cant imagine waiting until end of october to parse through hundreds of pages of class notes when if I have a little extra time right now could make it a little easier

?


There's no formula for which you are required to abide by. Do what works for you.

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rdcws000
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Re: What matters from a case for the final exam?

Postby rdcws000 » Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:35 pm

Sandro wrote:I'd say most ppl harp on not outlining right now. is there any harm to gathering my pages and pages of raw notes into more specific subheadings (keyed to book chapter/section maybe?) right now ? I cant imagine waiting until end of october to parse through hundreds of pages of class notes when if I have a little extra time right now could make it a little easier

?


There's nothing wrong with outlining right now. The reason most people say to wait til the last third of the semester is because the further you get through the course, the more you understand the landscape of the different topics and how they fit together. You also understand more of what is important, so you are able to exclude much of what you wrote down in class.

That is all correct. That being said, I outline at the end of every week, starting with week 1. It takes me 1 hour or less per class per week to keep this "running outline" going. As long as you understand that your "running outline" will not immediately become your final product once you reach the end of the semester, you'll be fine. At the end of the semester you will still need to consolidate, synthesize, and potentially reorder or restructure your outline. For me, this end of the semester consolidation takes 1-2 days per class. I usually take my semester long (30 page) outline and condense it down to 14 pages or less.

The difference here is, at the end of the semester I am adding almost nothing to the outline and I am not creating it. I am basically fine tuning, deleting, and reordering.

This formula has worked for me so far through 2 semesters and 1 summer.

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20160810
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Re: What matters from a case for the final exam?

Postby 20160810 » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:28 pm

Make briefs you'll actually be able to use on the final or in your outline. Don't write out page-long turds, shorten it to something like

A v. B (SCOTUS, 1989) --> Case w/ tomato sauce --> No duty of care owed to unforeseeable clown




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