Studying law is just not learning what is included in the syllabus of the academic course but is much more than that. To complete a law education, passing exams with good grades is not enough. All the students need to review and analyze the compilation of a few actual legal cases, judicial opinions, and some case laws.
The students need to have a strong opinion and conclusions while studying these cases as it will help to become a successful lawyer in the long run. Not only this, having an experience of analyzing all the elements of the cases will put you in a better position to defend yourself against a Socratic attack. To build a strong foundation for a lawyer, one of the best ways is to pay attention to studying and writing case briefs.
What is a Case Brief?
It is a well-analyzed written summary of a judicial opinion. In legal terms, the word “brief” means to present a persuasive formal argument to a court in support of a client/defendant. But here, we can take law case briefs as a dissection of an actual case as presented in the court with regard to the rule of law. Law students need to have knowledge about law essays and law case briefs. Now, let us delve a little more into the importance of writing it and how to write it.
Importance of Summarizing the Case Brief for Lawyers
These are among the best ways for law students to learn case analysis and objective legal reasoning. Having attained these skills help law students to survive in the legal world outside the university. Not only this, having a treasure of useful cases helps the student to have facts in the discussions in the future legal proceedings. It can be rightly said that these are all about learning the law as a process and way of thinking that stays with you forever.
While briefing a case, the student understands it deeply and then writes its own words. In the long run, it can be used or interpreted in two ways. The first one is the Student Brief, and the second is the Appellate Brief.
Student Brief: A student brief summarises and analyses a case developed for deliberations in the law classes. The summary includes a set of notes presented systematically, including identifying important issues, parties, potential decisions, and the reason behind the decision made by the judiciary and the court. Student Briefs are short, usually 1-3 pages long.
Appellate Brief: Another type of brief is Appellate Brief. It is the opposite of the Student Brief. It is a written legal argument that is presented in an appellate court. An Appellate Brief is premised on persuading a higher court to uphold or reverse the trial’s court decision. Therefore, such briefs are submitted in the court, including all the essential issues involved in the case from one side only.
By now, it is clear the importance of writing a briefcase for law students and its types. Now, let us take a look at the best way to write a good one:
How to Write a Case Brief?
A brief is usually read by you only, and as a practicing lawyer, the lawyer and the judge do not also care about it as long as you competently practice the law. There are different ways to write a case brief, and you can include as many elements as you want. Out of all the elements, below are the essential elements that are essential to have:
- Title and Citation
- Rule of Law
If you add these elements to your brief and leave the rest of them, you will have all the needed information to effectively recall the whole case while discussing it in the class or even after several months in the future.
Title and Citation
The foremost thing to consider in your summary is the case’s title and citations. The title consists of the information about who is opposing whom. It consists of the name of the person who initiated it in the court at first and then the opposite party’s name.
The citation includes the information to locate the reporter of that case.
Rule of Law
Rule of Law includes the legal principle that the court applied to that particular case. It majorly depends upon the legal issue at hand and requires the student to single out the main legal statement that the whole case rests on.
A good case brief includes a summary of the pertinent facts and legal points raised during the proceedings in the most simplified way. It usually contains information about the nature of litigation, who sued whom, all the occurrences, and what happened in the lower courts. Below are some of the important elements that make a good student brief:
- One sentence describing the cause of action, nature of the case
- Identification of the plaintiff and defendant
- A statement of the relevant law usually written in the quotation marks or underlined to highlight the key points
- A clear summary of the complaint or the indictment, relevant evidence, and arguments presented in the court to explain the case
- A complete summary of the actions taken by the courts (lower + higher)
The next part of the summary includes information about the Issues. It is an integral part of the case brief as many students tend to misread them many times as they fail to fail to see the issues in terms of the applicable law or judicial doctrine. The courts usually explicitly state all the issues raised by the facts relevant to a case. Try to capture the provision and all the essential points in your statement. Put these points in quotation marks or underline them to highlight the essential points.
In this section, the information about the court’s decision is included. It would help if you answered the questions in a “Yes” or “No” to the Issues section’s questions.
It can be the last part of your brief. It includes all the reasons that supported the holding. It would be best if you highlighted all the reasons to end the case brief effectively.
A case brief is the summary of the legal opinion. Once you pre-treated a casebook excerpt, you’re ready to brief the case. It is an excellent practice to follow to keep yourself prepared to enter the legal world.