Should you make case briefs in law school?

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Re: Should you make case briefs in law school?

Postby Icculus » Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:48 pm

I basically briefed the first two weeks so I could get a handle on how to spot issues/rules, etc and then stopped. In retrospect, I briefed about one week too long.

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Re: Should you make case briefs in law school?

Postby TatteredDignity » Fri Dec 07, 2012 3:51 pm

NotMyRealName09 wrote:
TatteredDignity wrote:My answer is no. I can make the argument acecdotally and analytically.

I didn't brief any of the cases after the first week of law school, and I'm at the top of my class at a highly-ranked school. So I can tell you first-hand that it isn't necessary. Caveat 1: people have different learning styles, and I can't be in everyone's shoes to know how well this would work for them.

But analytically, I just think it's a huge waste of time. There are two things you need to do in law school: 1) learn the material, and 2) apply that knowledge on the exam. Outside of TLS every single bit of advice you get goes toward #1. Briefing cases can't possibly help you with #2 (exam-taking is a skill learned through practice, not through reading cases). So the question is, does it help you with #1? The answer is: sort of. But it's about the least efficient way to go about learning the material. Why? Because, come exam time, you'll be juggling anywhere from 50 to 100 cases, and the only thing that will matter from those cases is the legal rule, or holding, that came from them. And unless you just don't pay attention in class, or refuse to use supplements, you'll know what that takeaway is without spending half an hour reading the case.

So why does everyone read cases? One, because most law students are strivers who do what professors tell them to do because they've always respected academic authority. And two, because they're afraid of looking stupid when they're cold-called. This is a very understandable concern: it sucks to not even be able to answer the most basic of questions about the reading material. That's why profs use the socratic method: to scare people into reading. The problem is, if you're reading cases with an eye to all the irrelevant factual minutiae that your prof is going to grill you about, you aren't reading the case properly: i.e. why are we reading the case, and how will this be tested on the exam? Except for some class like con law where the analysis does flow in large part from comparisons to precedent, your typical torts/contracts/civ pro exam will never ever require you to know the facts of any case. In short, you're learning a lot of irrelevant material for a reason unrelated to your grade: pride.

So, feel free to read the cases to your heart's content. I'm not sure that it necessarily hurts anything -- there just isn't a lot of benefit. Buy a supplement keyed to your case book and read the one-paragraph description of the case, if you're really worried about making it through your cold call.

I got off on a tangent there (a very valuable skill on law school exams), and I forgot that the original question was whether briefing cases is necessary. Given that I don't even think reading them is necessary, my answer to the actual question is a resounding now. Skim the cases if you must, for for Pete's sake, don't make painstakingly detailed notes. Just jot down the holding/any rule that comes out of the case.

TL;DR: No, don't brief. You won't need that knowledge come exam time, it's just an aid for class performance, which is irrelevant. Spend the extra time practicing exams.

Or just don't read law school. Good advice. Because its not like reading cases is a skill lawyers (litigators) use with regularity or anything.

I appreciate the insinuation that just because I don't do it regularly, I don't know how. It's not that complex, bro. Our alternate paths to success just demonstrate that it doesn't much matter how you learn the law.

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Re: Should you make case briefs in law school?

Postby 3|ink » Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:16 pm

I use my briefs in my outlines. It saves me the time and effort of re-reading the entire case.

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Re: Should you make case briefs in law school?

Postby laxbrah420 » Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:44 pm

disclaimer: 1L, no grades yet

Started off (a) reading and then briefing, moved to (b) reading then looking at online briefs and marking them up/adding shit, then moved to (c) reading only briefs and marking them up with class discussions, the moved back to (b. B is by far the best method. Reading briefs is not a substitute for reading the cases. Anyone who says, "you just need the BLL from the cases" is fucking with you. Reading the cases lets you know why the BLL is the way it is and allows you to understand that shit and where it fits in. When you back to your notes and see the brief with the BLL, you'll be able to place the shit properly. If you just read the BLL from the briefs though, you're unlikely to remember it as well. This is why I only really feel comfortable with torts and admin (because torts and admin cases are fun to read, but my lazy ass skips through the dry as fuck civ pro and contracts cases).

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