"Law School Confidential" briefing method

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Masternater9
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"Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Masternater9 » Fri May 29, 2009 2:06 pm

For those of you who have read "Law School Confidential", especially current students, what do you think of his suggested method with the highlighters? Is this effective? Is it just personal preference? Or am I going to get to class day one and be the only one without six different colored highlighters sitting on my desk. Thanks for the input. Trying to get a rough idea of how I'm going to be studying and note taking before school starts.
Last edited by Masternater9 on Fri May 29, 2009 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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JuryDueT1000
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby JuryDueT1000 » Fri May 29, 2009 2:09 pm

Masternater9 wrote:For those of you who have read "Law School Confidential", especially current students, what do you think of his suggested method with the highlighters? Is this effective? Is it just personal preference? Or am I going to get to class day one and not be the only one with six different colored highlighters sitting on my desk. Thanks for the input. Trying to get a rough idea of how I'm going to be studying and note taking before school starts.


I've run this by many people, current law students and professors alike. "Book briefing" as it's called, is highly discouraged among 1Ls. Mostly because of the legal analysis that takes place when you write your own briefs and put it in your own words. Apparently, you're doing yourself a big disservice by practicing this method.

However, once you have mastered briefing cases the long way, you could possibly get away with book briefing in 2L if not your 3L year.

After I read Law School Confidential, I was all gung ho about book briefing and all the time I was going to save. Alas, reality has taken the wind from my sails...

EDIT: I should also mention, I've read about four books just like Law School Confidential, and all of them recommend against book briefing except for Law School Confidential, the oddball. My conclusion is that it's not a good idea.

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dkelch317
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby dkelch317 » Fri May 29, 2009 2:13 pm

bump

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reasonable_man
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby reasonable_man » Fri May 29, 2009 2:20 pm

I used this method in 1L and supplemented it by hand writing in notes in the margins. Then during class, I would take notes on the aspects of the case that the professor zoned in on. Fully briefing cases is generally a waste of time and not overly helpful. Understanding the basic premise of the case is really the point. Then being able to use the holding in the case to support your position when needed.

If I'm writing a brief, I'll do this (taken from something I recently submitted) This is where all of this good stuff leads... Being able to utilize the cases to support your point:

Determining whether personal jurisdiction exists requires a Court to strike a balance between judicial power and a defendant's personal liberty interest in not being made to defend a case in a foreign forum. Insurance Corp. of Ireland, Ltd. v. Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 702 (1982). The restrictions on a state’s power to exert jurisdiction over foreigners emanates from the Federal Due Process Clause and its protection of individual liberty. Id. The seminal case on this issue, International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945), sets forth the constitutional framework within which states may enact and utilize long arm statutes to obtain jurisdiction over foreigners. A state court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant in accordance with the Federal Due Process-International Shoe requirements only when, 1) the state has enacted a long arm statute relevant to the instant controversy; 2) the defendant has minimum contacts with the forum state; and 3) maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and justice. Id. In the present case, none of these requirements are satisfied.



Don't get overly burdened by knowing every fact of the case... Know the basic premise of the case and what it stands for. Know the very basic facts and be able to articulate why the facts (in a hypothetical before you) are controlled by the law set forth in a specific case. Then use that to argue the point in both directions. If we use my example above, which was taken from a motion, not a memo, I would want demonstrate why the case before us presents a situation where a court might properly assert in personam jurisdiction over a defendant and then I would also want to argue why the court should not do so. At the end of the day, the conclusions you reach are secondary to the analysis you demonstrate. Do what it takes to put as many analysis tools in your warchest as you can and you will do fine. As long as your briefing method, whatever it might be, allows you to do this, you are getting the job done.

PS.. After you graduate, briefing a case is a long lost memory I promise.
Last edited by reasonable_man on Fri May 29, 2009 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Masternater9
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Masternater9 » Fri May 29, 2009 2:30 pm

Thanks for the input reasonable_man.

Has anyone who has tried this method found that they thought it was disadvantageous?

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JuryDueT1000
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby JuryDueT1000 » Fri May 29, 2009 2:32 pm

Masternater9 wrote:Thanks for the input reasonable_man.

Has anyone who has tried this method found that they thought it was disadvantageous?


You sound like you have your mind already set, so just do it. reasonable_man just validated you to boot.

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reasonable_man
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby reasonable_man » Fri May 29, 2009 2:36 pm

JuryDueT1000 wrote:
Masternater9 wrote:For those of you who have read "Law School Confidential", especially current students, what do you think of his suggested method with the highlighters? Is this effective? Is it just personal preference? Or am I going to get to class day one and not be the only one with six different colored highlighters sitting on my desk. Thanks for the input. Trying to get a rough idea of how I'm going to be studying and note taking before school starts.


I've run this by many people, current law students and professors alike. "Book briefing" as it's called, is highly discouraged among 1Ls. Mostly because of the legal analysis that takes place when you write your own briefs and put it in your own words. Apparently, you're doing yourself a big disservice by practicing this method.

However, once you have mastered briefing cases the long way, you could possibly get away with book briefing in 2L if not your 3L year.

After I read Law School Confidential, I was all gung ho about book briefing and all the time I was going to save. Alas, reality has taken the wind from my sails...

EDIT: I should also mention, I've read about four books just like Law School Confidential, and all of them recommend against book briefing except for Law School Confidential, the oddball. My conclusion is that it's not a good idea.


Keep in mind, I'm a TTT grad here lol.. While I did well, what worked for me might not work at HYS..

Masternater9
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Masternater9 » Fri May 29, 2009 2:37 pm

JuryDueT1000 wrote:
Masternater9 wrote:Thanks for the input reasonable_man.

Has anyone who has tried this method found that they thought it was disadvantageous?


You sound like you have your mind already set, so just do it. reasonable_man just validated you to boot.



I most definitely don't have my mind made up. That's why I'm so anxious to hear what others have to say about it. I just finished reading the book so I'm trying to ascertain if it has been effective for other students. Besides I'm not sure it will work for my personal style of learning anyways.

I appreciate your comments Jury. I just wanted to hear from as many people as possible.

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JuryDueT1000
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby JuryDueT1000 » Fri May 29, 2009 2:41 pm

Masternater9 wrote:
JuryDueT1000 wrote:
Masternater9 wrote:Thanks for the input reasonable_man.

Has anyone who has tried this method found that they thought it was disadvantageous?


You sound like you have your mind already set, so just do it. reasonable_man just validated you to boot.



I most definitely don't have my mind made up. That's why I'm so anxious to hear what others have to say about it. I just finished reading the book so I'm trying to ascertain if it has been effective for other students. Besides I'm not sure it will work for my personal style of learning anyways.

I appreciate your comments Jury. I just wanted to hear from as many people as possible.


I hear ya. But I don't think the writer of that book even book briefed his first year, I think he picked it up after the fact.

JaHerer22
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby JaHerer22 » Fri May 29, 2009 2:44 pm

Book briefing is slightly more useless than regular briefing because trying to flip through your casebook to find the important highlighted material during exam study sucks. But considering how useless regular briefing is I wouldn't say it's a horrible idea if if it saves you a lot of time and you just must brief.

On a scale of 1 to 100 with 1 being worthless and 100 being indispensable I would say...

book briefing= 4
briefing= 8

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TTT-LS
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby TTT-LS » Fri May 29, 2009 4:21 pm

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SteelReserve
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby SteelReserve » Fri May 29, 2009 5:14 pm

Before I say anything, I just wanted to comment how crazy it is to be on the "other side" now that I am a rising 2L. I remember having all these same anxieties and questions and I remember thinking all these different strategies would take me to the top 2%, so it is pretty amazing to see rising 1Ls, to remember what it feels to be so anxious about starting school.

The goods news is that eventually, you will adapt as the first semester goes on and you will learn whatever you need to do, all with plenty of time to do well on finals.

If you opt to go the route I went, which is to use other people's outlines, briefing would be a total waste of time.

But, I did a modified version of the LSC highlighter schtick. Well, I tried to stay loyal to it, but I gradually went from 5 colors to 4 to 2, and by second semester i highlighted maybe 5 lines per case with one color. Briefing is cute if you want to be the guy that can spit out an answer on the spot when you get called on a couple times a semester, but other than that, I just don't see its value.
You're going to develop the skill of spotting the issue, reasoning, holding, essential facts, etc, whether you type out an elaborate brief or not.
You should still read the cases as a 1L though because it is a necessary skill to learn; how to weed through facts and reasoning to get to the critical parts. You will also develop this skill in your legal research class when you write briefs and such.

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RudeDudewithAttitude
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby RudeDudewithAttitude » Sat May 30, 2009 2:40 am

Some TLS posters have said that briefs (and notes) build your outlines. If you don't brief, but you want to start building outlines as soon as possible, how do you do it? Is the emphasis on notes, as opposed to briefs?

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XxSpyKEx
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby XxSpyKEx » Sat May 30, 2009 7:28 am

RudeDudewithAttitude wrote:Some TLS posters have said that briefs (and notes) build your outlines.


Just catch everything you can during class with a profs for classes with an exam (all your 1L classes). Organize it so its easy to review for the exam (omitting the useless stuff that you wrote in class because you didn't know that at the time). And shazaam, you got an outline.

Briefs are mostly useless (but do it at the beginning just to figure out how to read cases), but your class notes should be good. The reason is the casebook is put together to confuse you because it wants to make you think. However it is stupid because the casebook will do things like throw in one case on a doctrine that is such a minority rule that it only applies to that particular state. Then they will usually throw in 2 cases that are in direct conflict with each other. There really is no way you can just figure out stuff like that yourself no matter how smart you think you are, and profs that have been around for a while (i.e. not idiot visiting profs, etc.) will just tell you what the point of shit was and the rules. Write those down, and that will make your outline.

I'm done with my first year but I still "brief". But now its basically become a small paragraph that will have a sentence or two of facts, the application of the rule to the facts (sentence), and the holding. Then I will also take a stab at writing down what the rule was. But 95% of the time I won't use what I wrote down as the rule just will just use what the prof said because either I just got the rule wrong (e.g. minority opinions that aren't followed anywhere but that state) or because the prof dumbed down the rule in a way that it makes more sense and is easier to apply on the exam (probably 90% of the time). But I find it useful to throw that small blurb if with some facts of most or all of the cases into my outlines because you really need to keep the rules in line with the cases. E.g. "substantial" means something different when you are talking about changed circumstances doctrines in contracts in comparison to "substantial" in terms of conversion in torts.

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dkelch317
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby dkelch317 » Sun May 31, 2009 9:33 am

repeat bump

snotrocket
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby snotrocket » Sun May 31, 2009 10:36 am

RudeDudewithAttitude wrote:Some TLS posters have said that briefs (and notes) build your outlines. If you don't brief, but you want to start building outlines as soon as possible, how do you do it? Is the emphasis on notes, as opposed to briefs?

You need to know the basic holdings of cases in order to cite them on exams, but saying that briefs and notes -> outlines suggests sort of an upside-down outlining process. You want to outline from the top down, not the bottom up. When you include cases, they should be only names and brief comments of no more than one sentence or a few words where you might use them as authority for rules of law or arguments on the exam. It may seem more obvious at first, and it's the way lots of people start when trying to outline, to somehow condense a mass of case briefs and class notes down into some sort of summary of the subject. But when a lot of people do this, they hesitate to cut things for fear of leaving out some crucial, golden fact or detail, so they wind up with 90 page outlines that serve no purpose at all on exams.

The exam outline is not a summary of everything you read and discussed in class, or every case that was mentioned. That sort of "outline" will work great as a cheat sheet for someone taking the class next year, who doesn't feel like doing any of the reading and still wants to look like they have a clue in class, or who needs something to cram from at the end. If you want to produce an outline like that as an act of charity for those who come after you, then that's fine, but it's not going to do a single thing for you when you're taking your own exams. Enough people certainly do this, and you can always find outlines like this floating around. They're great time savers for those who want to entirely avoid the work of reading, taking notes, or going to class.

The exam outline is a structured checklist -- it's supposed to be a series of one or two page issue spotting templates that you can rip through while you're writing, and that will help make sure that you spot all important aspects of an issue quickly and accurately. It needs to be short, and it needs to be organized in order to mirror the structure of arguments that you will make on the exam. Your prof's emphasis on certain policies or issues in class determines which sections of your outline get more detail, or which forks on issues you might tend to prefer. Case briefs, to the extent they enter at all, just tell you where to plug in the citations to authority once you have built the issue and argument centered outline.

The simplest way to start on an outline like this is to rip the capsule summary out of a commercial outline style supplement like Emanuels or Gilberts, then just extract all of the bold face lettered and numbered headings as you go through it. This will give you a nice, neat skeleton that you can follow just like a checklist in finding and addressing issues on the exam. Take all the main or top-level headings, and make those into a one-page mini-checklist, so that you can stick that at the front. Go back and add, change, or delete sections where the summary gives less attention to a topic that your prof spent a lot of time on, or omits a certain slant toward it that he liked, or covers a topic that he ignored entirely.

At the end, go back and plug in cites and one-sentence comments for all your major cases, wherever they fit into the issue-oriented structure that you've created. Also dump in a sentence or two on policy considerations that your prof dwelled on, where relevant to particular issues or tests. If you expect a very policy heavy exam, then maybe find and outline a couple of the most recent and relevant law review articles that your prof has written on topics that you covered in class, or any articles along those lines that he included in the syllabus. You can either work the segments of these policy outlines into your issue-oriented structure, or just dump them in a policy section at the end. The latter might be better if you expect a couple of purely policy oriented questions -- the former if your prof gives only issue spotters but expects you to address policy on every issue.

snotrocket
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby snotrocket » Sun May 31, 2009 10:53 am

SteelReserve wrote:You should still read the cases as a 1L though because it is a necessary skill to learn; how to weed through facts and reasoning to get to the critical parts. You will also develop this skill in your legal research class when you write briefs and such.

Legal research and writing seems the better place to work on this skill, because that's the only class where you spend enough time on one line of cases to really figure out what their holdings mean and how they relate to each other. The first year doctrinal courses, on the other hand, mostly suck at providing a setting for you to develop useful skills in reading cases and using them to build a legal argument, because they cover a huge range of issues in no meaningful depth and have you reading a jumble of cases that relate only in marginal ways. LR&W is the one class where you have to find the cases, figure out their holdings, then produce a coherent theory of a whole line of legal reasoning over time. That's much closer to what you do in practice when addressing a particular issue or dispute. In LR&W you're also usually working with the law of a single actual jurisdiction and trying to address facts that resemble a case you would find in practice, so you can relate the cases to each other in a rational, meaningful way, and you can see how the reasoning in different ones conflicts or evolves. Other than Con. Law and Civ. Pro., The law of 1L survey courses is singularly incoherent, because it's a weird mishmash of the laws of every state, or the law of no state. So from that point of view it's harder to connect all of it in a rational way, because most of the cases just amount to anecdotes designed to display a particular rule or policy.
Last edited by snotrocket on Sun May 31, 2009 3:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Snooker
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Snooker » Sun May 31, 2009 12:19 pm

I read the LSC method and it really sounds like the author designed the method as a way to look smart in class. A lot of the book deals with avoiding embarrassment and the briefing method is a typical example of the perspective. But the important thing is to come out on top on the tests and not fall to the bottom. The best pearl of wisdom LSC has to offer about tests is that he had no flipping clue what he was doing on one exam, panicked, walked outside to splash his face with water, then sat down to bullshit at it and he still got a B! (which we know is nothing to be excited about)

Briefing seems to get a lot of acclaim but on the other hand, some indicate it might be too time consuming. On the other hand, I do know that writing down summaries helps you remember information, and that computers can keep it very organized.

If I'm not mistaken, the prevailing advice is - do the full briefs the first few weeks of law school, then crunch down the length of your notes to what is really relevant?

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Mr. T6
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Mr. T6 » Sun May 31, 2009 12:29 pm


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TTT-LS
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby TTT-LS » Sun May 31, 2009 12:52 pm

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orangeswarm
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby orangeswarm » Sun May 31, 2009 12:54 pm

A buddy of mine did the LSC briefing for the first year and a half of law school. He didn't do too great, but I don't know if that has anything to do with the briefing method. I do know, however, that it seemed to take him just as much time to do that briefing method as it would take me to type a full brief in my notes (I like very short briefs).

random248
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby random248 » Sun May 31, 2009 3:46 pm

I thought I'd chime in to say that I used the LSC method during 1L (even with the same colors -- I wasn't original at all) and it worked well for me. That said, I'll reiterate the most important advice that everyone gives, which is that it really just depends on what works for you. However, since that advice doesn't really give much guidance, I'll keep blabbing about what I did.

In first semester, I "book-briefed" for all of my classes, though I didn't highlight very much for each "color"/category. I also made notes in the margin, structured as a short question for each issue, with a few notes where points in the case resolved the issue. In class, I typed up briefs as we went along, generally containing some of the points I highlighted plus points that came out of the class discussions. These ended up being pretty short, and I tried to pull out a one-or-two-sentence "rule" in class/at the end of the week/whenever I had a clear understanding of the case. This made it really easy to outline quickly and then focus on a 'checklist' for the exam and doing practice tests.

FWIW, this did not at all prevent me from saying lots of stupid things in class. I also think that it was the best way for me to get through the case analysis without spending excessive time or taking 500 pages of notes that I'd never be able to get through at the end of the semester. That said, many of my friends (and it sounds like many on here) found it best to study in completely different ways, so to each her own.

In second semester, I only had two classes that were really case-based, so of course didn't do this for the other two. We'll have to see how those worked out...

Good luck to you all in the Fall!

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joyce615
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby joyce615 » Sun May 31, 2009 4:15 pm

book briefing didn't help for me. i wrote the crap out of my book margins and it made me feel more prepared in class, but i never went through the notes during exam time. you probably aren't going to either because it's unlikely you'll flip through every single page of your casebook and it's painful to find that one note you remember as important but don't know where it is. efficient studying involves organization and book briefing is largely inefficient.

random248
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby random248 » Sun May 31, 2009 4:28 pm

joyce615 wrote:book briefing didn't help for me. i wrote the crap out of my book margins and it made me feel more prepared in class, but i never went through the notes during exam time. you probably aren't going to either because it's unlikely you'll flip through every single page of your casebook and it's painful to find that one note you remember as important but don't know where it is. efficient studying involves organization and book briefing is largely inefficient.


Definitely agreed that, if you are going to go with a book briefing method, it is probably a good idea to be organizing the information into actual notes on a regular basis (I went with in-class/after each class... sometimes left it 'til the end of the week). Again, it varies by person, but I can't imagine going back through your book at the end of the semester and looking for highlighting/margin notes. Really, it's an alternative to full briefing before class (if it works for you), but I wouldn't recommend stopping your regular material-organizing there (though I also wouldn't recommend stopping your regular material-organizing at writing up briefs every day, but again, to each her own).

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Merrill
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Re: "Law School Confidential" briefing method

Postby Merrill » Sun May 31, 2009 6:03 pm

I hate highlighters--I think they're distracting. I use pencil to underline and take some notes in the margin. But if you're curious about the highlighting method, try it out. If you hate it, don't use it. I found that I spent much of the first weeks of law school figuring out how to study in the way that was most effective for me. So don't be afraid to experiment, and remember that what works for others may not work for you.

I also want to throw in a counterpoint about briefing. Don't listen to people who say it's worthless--different methods work for different people. I briefed every case I read this year and I did well. Forcing myself to pick out the main rules in a case by writing them in a brief helped me really comprehend courts' reasoning. It also helped me remember the issues and rules better than if I hadn't briefed. I didn't spend much time briefing the facts, though--the issues and reasoning were far more important and useful.




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