Briefing Cases

(Study Tips, Dealing With Stress, Maintaining a Social Life, Financial Aid, Internships, Bar Exam, Careers in Law . . . )
PotLuck
Posts: 119
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:53 pm

Briefing Cases

Postby PotLuck » Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:54 am

Hey All,

I know this topic has been beaten to death, but I want to make sure I've giving myself the best start here possible. The consensus seems to be not to brief. I was just wonder what your notes of a case would be. I have been toying around with it and I usually just write down the following in a 1 or 2 lines each: Facts, Decision, Issue, Rule. Is this too little/ too much? Should I be adding any reasoning for decision? Any suggestions?

Thanks for the help!

User avatar
Bronck
Posts: 2025
Joined: Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:28 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby Bronck » Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:06 am

My "notes" for cases = copy and paste holding/discussion section of canned briefs.

User avatar
barestin
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 10:29 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby barestin » Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:08 am

Just get outlines from upperclassmen who did well in your professors classes. All the pertinent information from the cases should be there.

User avatar
manofjustice
Posts: 1323
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 10:01 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby manofjustice » Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:31 am

Surprisingly, after 1L, after refusing to brief and doing just fine...I say brief.

I don't know why briefing is so time consuming.

Procedural posture.

Facts.

Applied law.

Holding.

Rational.

I guess 0Ls don't really know what these things are. Each should only really take a sentence. But to the extent any individual case contains any law, it is within the boundaries of these five points. You have to know what these five points are or else you are not doing law. Applying a case to answer a legal question, without grasping these five points, is just amateur-hour. It't like wielding a scalpel in surgery without knowing anatomy. Prescribing medicine without knowing the right dose. Etc. etc...

edit: do whatever Saul Goodman does. I am pretty sure it involves Korean hookers.

User avatar
manofjustice
Posts: 1323
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 10:01 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby manofjustice » Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:44 am

Use my five points. I don't like the ones you've picked. Here's the nut of it: the things that matter about a case are the things about the case that can be used by a hypothetical side to argue that he should win, and the things that can be used by the other hypothetical side to argue that the first side doesn't have a point.

Procedural posture--e.g., the case was just a ruling on a motion to dismiss, not a judgement on the merits; your shitty case is still shitty.

Facts--e.g., this case is about landline telephones in the 1970s; your analogy to smartphone internet metadata can suck my cock.

Applied law--e.g., what the fuck are we even talking about? I didn't see "restitution" mentioned in your complaint, so you can take your case about restitution and make a paper airplane.

Holding--e.g., remand with instructions, how great! I suppose you ready the condoms and champagne every time a girl at the bar comes back with "maybe I'll call you sometime."

Rationale--e.g., I am pretty sure Bush v. Gore was about picking a president; I don't think the Supreme Court will give two shits about your congressional race. Count the fucking ballots.
Last edited by manofjustice on Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Void
Posts: 857
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:56 am

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby Void » Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:14 am

I like this briefing system. I was confused by "rational," but then realized you meant "rationale" (right?)

User avatar
manofjustice
Posts: 1323
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 10:01 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby manofjustice » Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:17 pm

Void wrote:I like this briefing system. I was confused by "rational," but then realized you meant "rationale" (right?)


Yep yep.

PotLuck
Posts: 119
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:53 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby PotLuck » Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:27 pm

Thanks for the advice manofjustice. I was really lost on Friday...I was essentially writing out a half page brief. I'm taking it that this method has been really useful for final exams. I'll give it a shot tonight!

User avatar
YYZ
Posts: 139
Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:39 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby YYZ » Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:43 pm

PotLuck wrote:Hey All,

I know this topic has been beaten to death, but I want to make sure I've giving myself the best start here possible. The consensus seems to be not to brief. I was just wonder what your notes of a case would be. I have been toying around with it and I usually just write down the following in a 1 or 2 lines each: Facts, Decision, Issue, Rule. Is this too little/ too much? Should I be adding any reasoning for decision? Any suggestions?

Thanks for the help!



You are very wise to question your approach early in the semester. I agree with your very basic approach to briefing. You would waste too much time typing every fact, argument and court holding in the case.

The main worry that comes up for 1Ls is getting through the socratic method and showing the prof that you were prepared. Obviously, having lots of detail about the case in brief can help, but I wouldn't spend too much time preparing for class. I would say most profs will give you credit for being "prepared" if you know basic things about the case. If you want a good grade, you need to spend way more time reviewing the notes/outlining from past classes than preparing for class. Remember, you need to focus exclusively on what the prof says about the case, not what anyone else thinks is important.

As a general rule, looking smart in class contributes about 0% to your final grade. Studying your notes from class frequently during the semester is the key. If there is something that the prof said you don't understand or need clarification, figure that out NOW instead of waiting until the end of the semester. Ask someone from class or meet with the prof so you're sure you have the material down 100%. Waiting until Nov or so to start reviewing/outlining will put you on par with the rest of the class.

Also, remember that Legal Writing is only one of your 5-6 grades for the semester. So, consider the cost/benefit of spending tons of time on the memo vs. studying/reviewing for your other classes.

User avatar
Totalimmortal
Posts: 55
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:15 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby Totalimmortal » Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:44 pm

> 2013
> Briefing cases
> Top lel

Briefing cases doesn't help with anything. Learn the concepts and how they fit together. Most cases are only valuable as illustrations of that concept, and very few, like Erie, are more or less one and the same.

Void
Posts: 857
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:56 am

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby Void » Sun Sep 01, 2013 2:48 pm

Totalimmortal wrote:> 2013
> Briefing cases
> Top lel

Briefing cases doesn't help with anything. Learn the concepts and how they fit together. Most cases are only valuable as illustrations of that concept, and very few, like Erie, are more or less one and the same.


I was going to say something similar but I think that briefing can be helpful for people who have never encountered case law before, to learn the general structure of cases and what NOT to read. I stopped briefing after my first month or so of 1L but lots of people find it helpful for even longer than that.

PotLuck
Posts: 119
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:53 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby PotLuck » Sun Sep 01, 2013 5:42 pm

On average how long should it take to brief like this?

User avatar
manofjustice
Posts: 1323
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 10:01 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby manofjustice » Sun Sep 01, 2013 6:47 pm

PotLuck wrote:On average how long should it take to brief like this?


I don't really know. I've never done it. I am going to start just like you.

I suppose I did something like this, but less formally, during outlining. I just made a list of points about the case that fit my criteria, i.e.: things about the case that a hypothetical side could use to yadda yadda yadda.

I dunno. Average of 30 minutes a case. One of the things I'd do is read the squib notes and cases after the main case to get a handle on why the main case is in the casebook to begin with. Then with that cue, skim the main case.

It just takes a little practice. Just look for signposts. The holding might be nicely summarized at the very beginning. It is explained toward the end (so skim the end first after checking the beginning.) Look for words suggesting a conclusion or the wrapping-up of a discussion. The rationale and the applied law will be nearby the holding. Although, to really grasp the rationale, it's best to skim before the holding to look for facts that are emphasized. Facts that appear outside the factual dissertation of the case that comes at the beginning are "facts that are emphasized."

The procedural posture comes at the very beginning, always. Keep an eye on what actual question the court is answering.

"The facts" are tricky. "The facts" primarily are just the "emphasized facts." However, a brief glace through the factual dissertation that comes at the beginning is important to catch any obviously significant facts that might be overlooked when the case turns to emphasizing particular facts for the purpose of applying law. For instance, a case about a contract to build a space shuttle for a hundred billion dollars may not announce after its factual dissertation "and now, before we apply the UCC, we must emphasize that this is a really expensive space shuttle." But it may still matter when you want to apply the case to something very different.

Modern cases tend to more lengthy but are more formulaic, so they are easier to skim. They may also have explicit signposts in headings. Old cases tend to be shorter and harder to skim, but old cases that are in a casebook are often paradigmatic fact patterns, so it might be worth digging into them a little bit more. Just avoid using an old case as a supplementary source of law. Old cases will often link to a more modern formulation of a doctrine in a Restatement. Use the modern formulation on exams. But you can use the old cases as illustrations.

Under no circumstances--and I repeat, under no circumstances--should you ever read Pennoyer v. Neff. Don't even think about it.

Your first law school exam is whether you actually read Pennoyer v. Neff. I failed that exam.

User avatar
thesealocust
Posts: 8448
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby thesealocust » Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:53 pm

Simple briefs are helpful, because you'll want to remember what you covered and they make good summaries. I basically did:

1. Case name, page in casebook, jurisdiction, and year

2. A brief summary of the rule in the case (since that's what you need for the exam)

3. Less than a full sentence about the facts (i.e. "woman gets injured in freak train/fireworks accident" for Palsgraff - enough to remind you what it was, not a summary and not to help you ace your cold call)

hiima3L
Posts: 837
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:26 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby hiima3L » Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:24 pm

thesealocust wrote:Simple briefs are helpful, because you'll want to remember what you covered and they make good summaries. I basically did:

1. Case name, page in casebook, jurisdiction, and year

2. A brief summary of the rule in the case (since that's what you need for the exam)

3. Less than a full sentence about the facts (i.e. "woman gets injured in freak train/fireworks accident" for Palsgraff - enough to remind you what it was, not a summary and not to help you ace your cold call)


This.

You should know the rule of the case, its outcome, and enough facts to explain the court's reasoning. For most (but not all, IMO), there should be enough facts or lack of facts that would also let you argue against the case's outcome and/or explain the problem(s) with its analysis.

PotLuck
Posts: 119
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:53 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby PotLuck » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:21 pm

manofjustice wrote:Under no circumstances--and I repeat, under no circumstances--should you ever read Pennoyer v. Neff. Don't even think about it.

Your first law school exam is whether you actually read Pennoyer v. Neff. I failed that exam.


Why is this?

User avatar
mr. wednesday
Posts: 406
Joined: Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:15 am

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby mr. wednesday » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:27 pm

PotLuck wrote:
manofjustice wrote:Under no circumstances--and I repeat, under no circumstances--should you ever read Pennoyer v. Neff. Don't even think about it.

Your first law school exam is whether you actually read Pennoyer v. Neff. I failed that exam.


Why is this?

Some people find it overly confusing, particularly as one of (if not the) first cases you read in law school. Ultimately, it illustrates an important concept but with crazy facts. You can just read the wiki page and you'll be fine.

User avatar
thesealocust
Posts: 8448
Joined: Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:50 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby thesealocust » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:30 pm

As my Civ Pro professor once said "Pennoyer v. Neff is our way of saying 'welcome to Law School, tuition is non-refundable'"

User avatar
NoodleyOne
Posts: 2358
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:32 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby NoodleyOne » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:38 pm

thesealocust wrote:As my Civ Pro professor once said "Pennoyer v. Neff is our way of saying 'welcome to Law School, tuition is non-refundable'"

My civ pro professor didn't assign it (yet). Did I get lucky?

PotLuck
Posts: 119
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:53 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby PotLuck » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:42 pm

I ask because it is the first case we have assigned in civ pro :( I guess ill try the wiki page for it?

User avatar
A. Nony Mouse
Posts: 22888
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:52 pm

NoodleyOne wrote:
thesealocust wrote:As my Civ Pro professor once said "Pennoyer v. Neff is our way of saying 'welcome to Law School, tuition is non-refundable'"

My civ pro professor didn't assign it (yet). Did I get lucky?

When I took civ pro, the prof went in reverse order from the textbook and started with pleading etc., then only did jurisdiction (what P v N is about) second semester. So I'm pretty sure it's waiting to trip you up in future.

User avatar
NoodleyOne
Posts: 2358
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 7:32 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby NoodleyOne » Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:58 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
NoodleyOne wrote:
thesealocust wrote:As my Civ Pro professor once said "Pennoyer v. Neff is our way of saying 'welcome to Law School, tuition is non-refundable'"

My civ pro professor didn't assign it (yet). Did I get lucky?

When I took civ pro, the prof went in reverse order from the textbook and started with pleading etc., then only did jurisdiction (what P v N is about) second semester. So I'm pretty sure it's waiting to trip you up in future.

Damn... we started with pleading.

User avatar
kay2016
Posts: 1121
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:23 am

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby kay2016 » Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:05 am

I must be the luckiest girl in the world...


We skipped P v N and went straight to Shoe! :)

User avatar
sanjola
Posts: 479
Joined: Sun Dec 19, 2010 12:56 pm

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby sanjola » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:29 am

kay2016 wrote:I must be the luckiest girl in the world...


We skipped P v N and went straight to Shoe! :)


That you are!

User avatar
Icculus
Posts: 1421
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:02 am

Re: Briefing Cases

Postby Icculus » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:52 am

NoodleyOne wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:
NoodleyOne wrote:
thesealocust wrote:As my Civ Pro professor once said "Pennoyer v. Neff is our way of saying 'welcome to Law School, tuition is non-refundable'"

My civ pro professor didn't assign it (yet). Did I get lucky?

When I took civ pro, the prof went in reverse order from the textbook and started with pleading etc., then only did jurisdiction (what P v N is about) second semester. So I'm pretty sure it's waiting to trip you up in future.

Damn... we started with pleading.


My civ pro prof never assigned it either. When one particularly annoying student asked what we should say if ever asked about it by an interviewer or someone else, his answer was simple, "Explain it's not good law anymore so who cares about it?"




Return to “Forum for Law School Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests