Case Briefing

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hausofjosh13
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Case Briefing

Postby hausofjosh13 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:58 pm

I'm currently a second semester 1L and was a poli sci/gender studies major in undergrad. Needless to say, my entire undergrad consisted of the "dive in" approach: reading everything, highlighting, annotating, taking notes, etc. I'm finding that this is making it really hard for me to get my homework done in a reasonable time in law school. Specifically, I feel like I'm wasting time briefing all the cases I read. I've read a few articles saying that briefing cases is useless. I'm less worried about having that knowledge when I'm called on in class and more worried about remember key cases when I'm studying for exams.

Does anyone have any tips or suggestions regarding how I can still do my reading, but not waste so much time on briefing and still be prepared for exams?

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patogordo
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby patogordo » Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:59 pm

instead of CASE BRIEFING you should be BRIEF CASING

skri65
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby skri65 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:23 pm

I shouldn't, but i do brief cases in two of my classes because I don't like making a fool of myself when called on. Frankly, I have no idea how so many people can read a case and then answer questions so specifically about a case without having some notes about the case. Even with highlighting, I can't look at the case and pick up acute points while on the spot in the classroom. Many people can, and I wish I had that kind of memory or ability to look at a case and be able to answer questions on the facts without notes of some sort.

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lawhopeful10
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby lawhopeful10 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 5:28 pm

I don't highlight/put pen to paper at all before class and I did really well first semester 1L. If it's important the teacher will go over it. I spend maybe 30 minutes to an hour max doing the reading. Cold calls don't mean shit, only study what you will be tested on.

rambleon65
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby rambleon65 » Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:56 pm

what did you last semester and how did you do last semester?

hausofjosh13
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby hausofjosh13 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:27 am

rambleon65 wrote:what did you last semester and how did you do last semester?


Last semester I did pretty well. What I do is i do all of the reading and make highlights and little notes in the margins. Then i go back and essentially brief the cases and as well as take notes on the other material I had to read. I primarily did this so that when i get called on, I am prepared to answer questions. However I'm finding that this is becoming extremely time consuming when my professor just ends up telling us the purpose of the case anyway. I want to be able to have notes to use when I outline, but I also don't want to waste my time doing something that really won't help me that much.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:33 am

I stopped case briefing fairly early on - I just wrote notes in the margins (book brief). That was plenty to be able to answer questions in class (to the extent that matters). Since the prof is telling you what the purpose of the case is, just take decent notes in class and use those to make your outline. If you know the law that the key cases represent, remembering the specifics of the cases often isn't that important anyway.

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sublime
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby sublime » Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:59 am

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reasonable_man
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby reasonable_man » Thu Feb 20, 2014 2:22 am

If you need to prepare a full brief just to avoid looking like an idiot when you get called on, you're not doing it right at all. Highlight some important stuff, throw a few notes in the margin and then think on your feet when you get called on. Case briefing is a mostly useless skill. Law school professors make a big deal about it because they've never practiced law and believe that briefing a case is somehow related to litigation. Stop briefing, start highlighting and taking notes and give it a whirl the next time you get called on. The only way you'll know that you can answer without a case brief is if you answer a question about a case you haven't briefed. You just gotta jump in. The first time I argued a motion, I had never argued a motion before. The first time I questioned a witness, I had never questioned a witness. The first time I argued an appeal, I had not argued an appeal before. That's the way law works - learn by doing. Give it a try. If things work out well - you'll have a long career of firsts. This is just one of them.

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:15 pm

+1 on book briefing - just mark Facts, Rule, Analysis, Holding, etc., in your margins as you read, maybe some random notes, and that's it.

Law school starts off pushing people to full brief because new 1Ls don't know how to read cases, they are strange beasts to the uninitiated. By now you should know how to read a case, and if you're good you should be able to guess which part of the case your professor will want to highlight (which is a good self-assessment test - did you highlight the part the prof touched on? If not, why not?). You may even surprise yourself with your ability to think on your feet.

hausofjosh13
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby hausofjosh13 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:24 pm

Thank you everyone for all of your suggestions! Today, I tried highlighting and annotating in the margins and just using that and it definitely helped a lot more than stressing out over briefing every case.

In addition, did you guys take notes on substantive stuff like doctrines/rules/tests/etc. your textbooks talked about or was anything you read only highlighted/annotated and the only time you took notes was in class?

NotMyRealName09
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby NotMyRealName09 » Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:30 pm

hausofjosh13 wrote:Thank you everyone for all of your suggestions! Today, I tried highlighting and annotating in the margins and just using that and it definitely helped a lot more than stressing out over briefing every case.

In addition, did you guys take notes on substantive stuff like doctrines/rules/tests/etc. your textbooks talked about or was anything you read only highlighted/annotated and the only time you took notes was in class?


I only took notes in class. Then when I'd begin outlining a few weeks before exams, I'd have my textbook open with my margin scribbles and my class notes, maybe a prior student's outline for reference, and then I'd outline. But its really all personal style. If you're going to take substantive notes along with your reading, may as well just outline as you go and revise the outline after class if needed.

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reasonable_man
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby reasonable_man » Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:58 pm

As best I can recall, first year I took notes on my computer and highlighted/made notes in my textbook. Key points in the textbook got highlighted as well. My notes became my outline, I'd simply cut out the irrelevant/extra stuff and skim the notes in my textbook margin and insert any helpful key points from the book. Then I'd primarily study from the outline I made (i.e. my condensed notes) and some past exams from the professor.

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TTRansfer
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby TTRansfer » Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:53 pm

Briefing everything is a complete waste of time and you are doing yourself a disservice by doing that.

Skim the case and maybe make a few highlights and use canned briefs to refresh your memory.

lawman4
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby lawman4 » Sun Feb 23, 2014 7:17 pm

It comes down to the the type of learner you are.

I am currently in the top 15% and I case brief every case and annotate my briefs as the professor talks and as people ask questions. Most of the people who finished high do the same as well. There are a couple geniuses that don't do much and do well.

However, for the most part, it seems like the median students are typing the whole entire class whereas the top students are jotting down notes every now and then and asking questions because they already have them down and memorized.

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sublime
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby sublime » Sun Feb 23, 2014 7:19 pm

..

whatsEwingdoing
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby whatsEwingdoing » Mon Feb 24, 2014 2:38 pm

second semester 1L here. I know, still a baby. However, I did really well first semester. I don't 'brief' cases per se, but I have found my approach useful. For starters, I mark up my book, heavily. I highlight issues and rules, and bracket out with a pen the facts, holding, and procedural history. I take notes along the sides of the margins while I read through the case, then jot up a nice little issue/rule plotline in my outline that I keep up with throughout the year. Works for me, but hey, everyone is different. The only thing we all have in common on this board is that we made the mistake of going to law school. :lol:

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hmlee
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby hmlee » Tue Feb 25, 2014 2:48 pm

You know a lot increased speed in reading/briefing cases comes down to experience. The more cases you read, the easier you find it to spot critical components, and the faster it becomes to write a brief. This is also why many 2Ls and 3Ls brief less and less as time goes on. And also why many of them (as well as us graduates) might tell you that briefing cases is useless.

Problem is, this doesn't help if you still are relatively new when it comes to comprehending cases, as most 1Ls are. The other negative to briefing everything, of course, is the reality that most of the elements of a typical case brief aren't going to be what shows up on your exams (as you've probably figured out by now). Exams typically only care about the black letter law - the rule statements, and the reasoning that goes behind them. So, theoretically, you can learn the law for a class through E&Es or old outlines.

In my experience in law school, though, my recall on exams was always better for classes in which I had read cases (and briefed or took notes on) than in those classes where I relied mostly upon supplements or outlines. And of course supplements and outlines don't really help you much when it comes to class discussion.

What others have said about book briefing is true. I tried both book briefing and creating standalone briefs on my computer when I was in law school and book briefing was certainly faster. The downside of book briefing is that all of your notes and highlights are in your book, which makes creating an outline at the end of the semester tedious.

If you happen to be a student at one of the school that my company supports, you can alleviate this problem by doing your book briefing online at our website, LearnLeo. We've done research on briefing methods and using our site is faster than traditional book briefing or creating your own briefs. And it's free. (If you have any questions about the site, I'm always available to talk via PM)

If you attend a school that we don't yet support, then I would suggest book briefing and outlining as the semester goes on to make your end-of-semester crunch less horrible.

Skump
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Re: Case Briefing

Postby Skump » Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:05 pm

Long briefs eliminate the (marginal) value of briefing. The relevant skill that briefing builds is the ability to quickly extract the key "point" of a case from a particular legal perspective (Civ Pro, Tort, Contract, whatever your area of concern is). You shouldn't be briefing "thoroughly," but rather "precisely." What is the essential holding of the case? If necessary to make the holding meaningful, what is the essential reasoning behind the holding?




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