Should you brief cases in law school?

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stavand
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Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby stavand » Mon Mar 24, 2008 5:53 pm

I feel silly asking the question, but a bunch of sources, like PLS, say that you shouldn't brief cases at all, but instead focus on black letter law. Other sources say know how to brief a case, but don't do it.

What do you think. I talked to some law students, and they seem to think that briefing cases wasted a lot of time.

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themillsman22
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby themillsman22 » Mon Mar 24, 2008 6:12 pm

a bunch of sources, like PLS, say that you shouldn't brief cases at all,


I'm not sure that's what PLS says. He does say you don't really need a casebook, but I don't know if he ever completely advocates not briefing. He falls more along the lines of the "learn how to brief, but don't necessarily spend all your time on it" camp.

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ks2pa
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby ks2pa » Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:31 pm

Briefing is a very small part of my study habits. Taking the time to brief helps you sound smart in class but I don't think it helps much on the exam. I often used canned briefs (I still read the case) and pay close attention to what the professor concentrates on in class. I spend much more time going over supplements.

On the whole I think it is overrated and more for people to do that want some sort of evidence that they are "working hard."

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Ipsa Dixit
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby Ipsa Dixit » Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:54 pm

You should do whatever helps you understand the material. Learning to brief will help you understand how to pull the rules and reasoning out of a case.

I read all the cases, but I rarely type my briefs anymore. I mark up my text book as I read the cases though and sometimes make little diagrams or flowcharts to organize info when a part of a case is confusing.

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thedogship
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby thedogship » Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:09 pm

I'd say briefing is important for the first semester 1L, and particularly at the beginning of the semester. Since at that point you're not familiar with reading cases, making yourself brief them forces you to read them closely, focus on the different parts of the case, separate the court's holding from dictum, etc... Can be very useful, especially that first few times you get called on in class. By second semester, you are much more comfortable with what the professor is looking for, what you need to pay attention to in the case, how to extract the law, etc; you sort of get a better overall sense for the case and stuff is more easily clear since you have a better context too from the previous semester's cases. I don't really brief any cases anymore, unless I am really confused about what's going on in one, but that is rare. But I do read all the cases, and I do put notes in the margins as I go thru as quick reminders about important facts or points of law so that if I do get called on in class or need to review the casebook for any reason, I don't have to spend time re-reading, it immediately jogs my memory. As you get more of a "big picture" concept of the class, briefing the cases becomes less important because you can see where the law is coming from and where it's going in the class. And especially in classes like torts where you deal with a million cases, briefing can be absurd. With that said, there are plenty of over achievers that will have absolutely everything over-briefed, which seems to me to be a waste of time at a certain point, considering you won't have time and it won't be productive to review all those pages come exam time on top of your class notes, outlines, etc...

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stavand
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby stavand » Tue Mar 25, 2008 1:25 pm

I understand reading cases to see how law is put together.

Does reading cases really help you on tests. From what I understand, tests are about black letter law.

Do you actually need to memorize which case said what for exams. If you know the black letter from say E&E, do you need to really do more than read canned briefs.

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orangeswarm
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby orangeswarm » Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:22 pm

stavand wrote:I understand reading cases to see how law is put together.

Does reading cases really help you on tests. From what I understand, tests are about black letter law.

Do you actually need to memorize which case said what for exams. If you know the black letter from say E&E, do you need to really do more than read canned briefs.


1. The cases try to teach you the black letter law or how that law is applied. So they do help if you pay attention to how the rule is used and applied by courts.

2. Heck no you don't need to memorize what the case says. You don't even have to know the names of them. If you want to refer to a case on an exam you can just say "like in the case where X did Y..." (unless the case is a landmark case like Pennoyer v. Neff or International Shoe). So no, you don't have to do anything more than read canned briefs. The only caveat is that you miss some of the reasoning and analysis by not reading the actual cases that may prove useful on an exam.

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thedogship
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby thedogship » Tue Mar 25, 2008 2:37 pm

I'd like to amend the above poster's entry. How much you need to know about specific cases largely depends on your professor for that class. I had professors that didn't care if we mentioned a single case on the exam as long as we knew the relevant law and how to apply it, and I had professors that had requirements about how many cases we needed to use in our answers, including case name and short description and relevant ruling. I would say that while learning black letter law and using E&E is very important ultimately, reading the cases is as well because the law doesn't mean much if it doesn't have a context or you can't see its application in a variety of differing scenarios. The better law schools focus more on theory of law than on learning just black letter, meaning at those schools it's not just a call and response of the black letter. Understanding courts' reasoning is important and often more important in some classes than ultimately what the "right" answer or ultimate conclusion is. You're setting yourself up for dangerous study habits by not reading cases from the start. While some people can get away with it, like some people can get away with cramming the last two weeks before exams, I wouldn't recommend it for most people, because it will bite you in the ass, and you're likely not as smart as the kid who can cram it all in and ace the exam. On top of that, you're paying thousands and thousands of dollars for teachers to teach you this stuff. Why wouldn't you spend the time each day to maximize that experience and know what the hell they are talking about and maybe try to contribute in class?

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ktlulu1
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby ktlulu1 » Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:04 pm

I didn't brief last semester and it worked out fine for me. I just focused on black letter law. This semester I have one prof who is completely case obsessed, so in my study group (again, something I avoid like the plague but this class is awful) all we do is go slowly case by case and brief and figure out what he wants us to say about the case. So, I suppose my advice is to get a feel for your profs, but most of the time you don't really need to brief so long as you get the basic law.

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MTal
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby MTal » Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:14 am

I imagine class can be uncomfortable if you don't brief, particularly if you're called upon, no?

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MissVirginia
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby MissVirginia » Fri Mar 28, 2008 1:54 am

I misread the title as "should you [have] briefcases in law school?".

I guess that means it's time for bed.

Alexandria
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby Alexandria » Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:08 am

MTal wrote:I imagine class can be uncomfortable if you don't brief, particularly if you're called upon, no?


Uh, no. I briefed for maybe the first week. Maybe the first two days?

I found it excruciatingly time consuming and not very helpful in class. I don't even book brief. I just read and highlight. No problems in class. There were two classes for which I make/made sure to read the cases the day before instead of getting further ahead, so that they were fresh in my mind. Those profs want a lot more detail than most.

First semester, I had two profs who told us for the final that they really don't care about cases. This semester, I have one who wholeheartedly does care very much, but briefs are much more detailed than what you need to know for the exam. You just need to know the rule of law and some basic factual background to help you understand it. And, of course, how it fits in the greater scheme of things.

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aguyingeorgia
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby aguyingeorgia » Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:14 am

Thanks all for the advice.

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sbjohnsn
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby sbjohnsn » Sat Mar 29, 2008 10:03 am

I still brief every case. It really helps for outlining because when you go to create your outline, you have your reading notes, your class notes, any annotations you made in the margins, and your supplements if you need them. I feel like if I didn't have my reading notes there's a good chance I could miss something coming out of the case, especially if the professor only talks about it for a couple of minutes in class.

SecondTimeAround
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby SecondTimeAround » Sat Mar 29, 2008 7:17 pm

I stopped briefing. Now to help me in class I just note the major parts of the decision in the margin. I hope this tedious concentration on the particulars of these cases will stop in upper-level classes.

jmo7
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby jmo7 » Sun Mar 30, 2008 11:12 pm

I've never briefed a case. Then again, briefing it would require me to actually read it.

prettypithy
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby prettypithy » Sun Mar 30, 2008 11:19 pm

jmo7 wrote:I've never briefed a case. Then again, briefing it would require me to actually read it.

Class rank? :lol:

jeff2486
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby jeff2486 » Mon Mar 31, 2008 3:44 pm

I don't brief any cases. I only read cases for criminal law, everything else I just use supplements and get the professors ideas from class. Last semester I briefed in the books. I think it was helpful for the first semester because I was not good at ready such dense material, however it comes much easier now.

jmo7
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby jmo7 » Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:53 pm

Class rank? :lol:


lol, they don't rank at duke... let's just say when I got my grades back, I felt like I had gotten away with stealing. This was re-iterated when my buddies started telling me their grades (especially in civil procedure).

prettypithy
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby prettypithy » Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:59 pm

jmo7 wrote:
Class rank? :lol:


lol, they don't rank at duke... let's just say when I got my grades back, I felt like I had gotten away with stealing. This was re-iterated when my buddies started telling me their grades (especially in civil procedure).


Congrats!

jmo7
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby jmo7 » Mon Mar 31, 2008 5:02 pm

Congrats!


I will admit, I lived in the library for the last month, cursing myself for being so lazy the first 2 months... So it wasn't like I just "get" law school or something, I just don't read the cases, and when I'm outlining the last month, I just skim them and try to get the main points into my outline. Seemed to work ok for me.

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marymcq
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby marymcq » Thu Apr 03, 2008 12:49 pm

Generic disclaimer: do whatever you need to do to be successful in law school.

I know I stand alone among my classmates when I say that I briefed all my cases last semester and I have been briefing all my cases this semester. Here are a few reasons why:

1. At my school, professors can add or detract up to three points on your final exam grade based on your class participation. It'd be a horrible feeling to know that you had worked your ass off to get one of the top exam grades but hovered around top 25% of your class based on final grade because the two times you were called on in class, you flubbed your way through.
(Specifically, I think about my old-school torts professor who makes us stand up in class and do 20 minute recitations. Seriously.)

2. In my own way of studying/memorizing (my exams are closed book), it's much easier for me to remember rules and how to apply rules if I have a story to remember. And to me, cases are just stories. Shoot, I even draw pictures in my outline to jog my memory about a funny/weird/interesting fact pattern from a case that led to a new/divergent rule of law.

3. More of a sidenote than a reason: my briefs have become significantly more efficient and succinct that, say, my first week of law school. To do 25-30 pages of reading, including briefing the cases, probably takes me an hour and a half. Then in my outlines, I just briefly mention the case (bare necessity facts and holding). This method worked out very well for me last semester, and, like they say, "if it ain't broken, don't fix it!"

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GodSpeed
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby GodSpeed » Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:17 am

I dont understand why you need to write out the facts and issue and whatnot. How can you forget them? I have a terrible memory, but it's pretty hard to forget what happened. You spend 2-3 hours discussing the case in class, reading about them in commercial outlines, see them applied in practice problems and then you (presumably) re-read (or in my case read) them before the final. For just about every case, I can tell you everything you need to know in about 5 sentences. I don't get the formality of briefing.

RTR10
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby RTR10 » Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:47 am

jmo7 wrote:I've never briefed a case. Then again, briefing it would require me to actually read it.


HAHA! Same here! I've read only for the days I've been on call...and sometimes not even for those days.

blacwolve
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Re: Should you brief cases in law school?

Postby blacwolve » Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:49 am

Are you supposed to go into law school knowing how to write a brief? Because I don't.




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