Case Briefing

A case brief is a concise summary of a case that is designed to help you learn and recall the material
you learned in class.

What a Case Brief Looks Like

A case brief contains enough information for you to be able to do the following:

  • Recite the facts of the case
  • Give the rule of law
  • Describe how the judge applied the rule of law to the facts
  • Explain the final decision of the court

Why You Should Brief Every Case

A case brief allows you to synthesize the material into a condensed version that is easy to read and recall. Cases that are found in the notes need not be briefed, but if they are mentioned along with the rule of law that was presented in that case, it's best to include that information in your notes.

Start Briefing Cases From Day One

During orientation, you will receive an introduction to, and some practice with, creating case briefs.  As you begin to prepare for classes, you should be creating case briefs. If you need any help with preparing these case briefs, please do not hesitate to contact the Director of Academic Support for assistance.

You Should Not Use Canned Case Briefs

Canned briefs (such as Legalines and High Court Case Summaries) are not going to provide you with all of the information you need to fully understand a case. These are merely tools, not substitutes for your casebook.

Condense Your Case Brief After Class

Each case presents a rule of law. This rule of law might be the same as, or opposite from, previous cases. This rule of law might also clarify a rule of law from a previous case. Condense the case brief down to the rule of law (and maybe a few facts) and the analysis that the judge utilized. Then, insert that information into your outline. Many students actually insert their full case brief into their outline prior to class so that they have one single document.