During that period I wrote a series of memoranda on various aspects of the student note writing process. The memos cover the subjects of searching for a note topic, evaluating potential topics, organizing a note, preparing an outline of a note, and writing first, second and third drafts of a student note. I am making those memos available here because they may be of use to current members of the Western New England Law Review and law review members at other law schools. The first memo addresses the issue of note topic selection.
How to write a case brief for law school: Excerpt reproduced from Introduction to the Study of Law: This section will describe the parts of a brief in order to give you an idea about what a brief is, what is helpful to include in a brief, and what purpose it serves.
Case briefs are a necessary study aid in law school that helps to encapsulate and analyze the mountainous mass of material that law students must digest. The case brief represents a final product after reading a case, rereading it, taking it apart, and putting it back together again.
Who will read your brief?
Most professors will espouse the value of briefing but will never ask to see that you have, in fact, briefed. You are the person that the brief will serve! Keep this in mind when deciding what elements to include as part of your brief and when deciding what information to include under those elements.
What are the elements of a brief? Different people will tell you to include different things in your brief.
Most likely, upon entering law school, this will happen with one or more of your instructors. While opinions may vary, four elements that are essential to any useful brief are the following: Because briefs are made for yourself, you may want to include other elements that expand the four elements listed above.
Depending on the case, the inclusion of additional elements may be useful. For example, a case that has a long and important section expounding dicta might call for a separate section in your brief labeled: Whatever elements you decide to include, however, remember that the brief is a tool intended for personal use.
To the extent that more elements will help with organization and use of the brief, include them. On the other hand, if you find that having more elements makes your brief cumbersome and hard to use, cut back on the number of elements. At a minimum, however, make sure you include the four elements listed above.
Elements that you may want to consider including in addition to the four basic elements are: In the personal experience of one of the authors, this element was used to label cases as specific kinds e.
This element allowed him to release his thoughts without losing them so that he could move on to other cases. In addition to these elements, it may help you to organize your thoughts, as some people do, by dividing Facts into separate elements: One subject in which Procedure History is virtually always relevant is Civil Procedure.
When describing the Judgment of the case, distinguish it from the Holding. Remember that the purpose of a brief is to remind you of the important details that make the case significant in terms of the law. It will be a reference tool when you are drilled by a professor and will be a study aid when you prepare for exams.
A brief is also like a puzzle piece. The elements of the brief create the unique shape and colors of the piece, and, when combined with other pieces, the picture of the common law takes form. A well-constructed brief will save you lots of time by removing the need to return to the case to remember the important details and also by making it easier to put together the pieces of the common law puzzle.
The simple answer is: But what parts of a case are relevant? When you read your first few cases, you may think that everything that the judge said was relevant to his ultimate conclusion.
Even if this were true, what is relevant for the judge to make his decision is not always relevant for you to include in your brief. Remember, the reason to make a brief is not to persuade the world that the ultimate decision in the case is a sound one, but rather to aid in refreshing your memory concerning the most important parts of the case.
What facts are relevant to include in a brief? You should include the facts that are necessary to remind you of the story. If you forget the story, you will not remember how the law in the case was applied.
You should also include the facts that are dispositive to the decision in the case. For instance, if the fact that a car is white is a determining factor in the case, the brief should note that the case involves a white car and not simply a car.
To the extent that the procedural history either helps you to remember the case or plays an important role in the ultimate outcome, you should include these facts as well. What issues and conclusions are relevant to include in a brief?A law review note is often a law student's first chance to publish something that will enter the record of legal scholarship, and a successful note can be a prized line-item on resumes and CVs going forward.
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ACADEMIC LEGAL WRITING: LAW REVIEW ARTICLES, STUDENT NOTES, SEMINAR PAPERS, AND GETTING ON LAW REVIEW by EUGENE VOLOKH Gary T. Schwartz Professor of Law UCLA School of Law with foreword by JUDGE ALEX KOZINSKI U.S.
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The University of Pennsylvania Law Review Online first began publishing case notes in May Case notes are written by current editors of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. This Case Note discusses the implications of Blair for the criminal defense attorney who accepts potentially tainted funds and proposes a solution to.