Learn How to Write a Case Brief (With Dos and Don’ts)

how to write case brief

One of the most asked for articles is related to the “how to write a case brief” topic. Yes, students from not just the US are asking us to explain the case brief and to write a “how to write a case brief” article. Since we are more than happy to help students get the highest grades possible, we’ve managed to put together an article about the case brief (also known as the brief case).

So, let’s see what the brief case and how to write a brief case. As always, as short, easy guide will be provided. Also, you will find plenty of useful tips and tricks that will help you master this kind of assignment. And remember, you need to be able to analyze the holding in a case brief (it’s not an easy thing to do). You will have to learn how to do this.

What Is a Case Brief and Who Uses It?

Truth be told, thousands of people are looking for more information on how to write a legal case brief. And it’s not just students. We are talking about paralegals and even seasoned legal professionals. There is no case brief template out there. There is no magic formula. You need to learn how to write it and you need to practice. But first, let’s see the case brief definition. What is a case brief?

A case brief is nothing more than an analysis of a court opinion, followed by a short summary of it. In other words, you need to present the issues involved in the case and then analyze the decision of the court. In general, a case brief is between 500 and 1000 words, just like an average essay. Yes, it’s pretty condensed, especially when you consider the fact that a typical court decision is a couple pages long.

The main purpose of a case brief is to show your professor that you understand the court’s decision and what led the court to take that decision. By writing case briefs, you will quickly become accustomed to the legal way of thinking. Frankly, this little writing project is very effective at helping law students understand why a judge took a specific decision, especially when it’s a very important decision. This is probably why law professors love assigning such tasks to their students.

The Importance of a Brief Case

Now that you understand what a brief of a legal case is, you are probably wondering why it’s so important. Of course, we already told you that it helps you understand the court’s decisions. It also helps you understand that most important issues of the case. Here are some other benefits of a good case brief:

  • Dissecting a judicial opinion is the best way to exercise your law skills.
  • A lawyer may be interested in important cases and may require his paralegals to present him with the most relevant cases. Of course, you won’t build an encyclopedia; you will come up with some short case briefs.
  • A brief case easily brings the relevant details of a case back to memory. The reasons for this are varied.
  • Case briefs make reviewing specific areas of law a lot easier. Who has the time to read all the documents of a legal case?

But for the most part, learning how to brief a case is important for your professor. It is, after all, a very effective self-learning technique.

How to Write a Case Brief: Easy Guide

We know you are very interested in an example. So, of course, we developed a how to write a case brief example. Here is our how to write a case brief for dummies guide, plain and simple:

  1. Read your law teacher’s requirements carefully.
  2. Get all the materials you can get. You will need all the documentation from the case you will be studying, of course. You will end up with a lot of materials.
  3. Create a case brief outline. This means you need to read, analyze and summarize the plethora of information found in the court documents. You are interested in the facts of the case, the issues presented, the holding of the court, and the rationale behind the decision. Also, don’t forget that you should include a short history if the case.
  4. Write the case brief, edit and proofread. There is no one case brief format that you need to use. In fact, many writers have proposed various formats over the years. You should write the brief like you see fit, as long as it’s well structured and logical.

To help you with more information on how to do a case brief, here is the typical structure of the final document:

  • The facts. This is where you describe the specifics of the case, the history, and the judgment. It’s like an introduction.
  • The Issues. This section is used to describe the specific issues that are being disputed. Keep is short and concise.
  • The Holding. In this section, you will quote the court’s holding. In other words, this is the sections where you answer the legal question faced by the court. You may want to read more about what is a holding in a case brief, if you don’t know already.
  • The Reasoning. You will have to describe the rule of law in that specific case and then describe the application of the rule. What are the reasons behind the court’s decision?

In some cases, you may need to add up to four more sections: the Dicta, the Dissent (if there is at least one dissenting opinion), and Party’s Arguments, and Comments (these are your own comments on the decision or the reasons for the decision).

Read at Least One Sample Case brief

Before you start writing your brief (or at least trying to write it), we strongly advise you to read at least one sample case brief. You can find some decent samples online, but this is not the best place to get some good ideas from. If you want a truly exceptional brief that you can learn from, we suggest you get it from a professional. For example, a seasoned professional writer with a law degree (or extensive legal writing experience) can help you with a great brief in no time.

By looking at a good example of a case brief, you immediately understand what you need to do and how you need to do it. In most cases, nothing is more effective than looking at a good example! And if the case brief sample has been written from scratch just for you, you can even use some parts from it in your own project. Nobody will ever know that you took some ideas from the example because the sample is 100% original (it doesn’t appear anywhere online or offline).

Learn How to Cite a Case Brief Correctly!

If you’ve read at least one case brief example, you’ve probably noticed that citations are very important. The authors have gone to great lengths to make sure everything is cited correctly and that all sources are authoritative and accurate. Keep in mind that everything must be crystal clear and 100% accurate, especially when it comes to the rule of law. Dedicate some of your time and learn how to cite a case brief correctly. You will need this information.

We can’t stress this enough: learn how to cite appropriately! Errors in citations will attract severe penalties from your professor. Citations in law documents are made following a standardized format. It’s not difficult to learn, so there is no reason for you to make a mistake here. It would be a shame to get penalized for such an error on an otherwise exceptional case brief.

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