You have probably heard students in law class talk about case briefs. But, notably, most of them hate briefs because they are complicated. But it does not have to be a daunting task. This guide is designed to help simplify the process of writing a case brief for you.
What is a Case Brief?
In law, the term ‘brief’ is used to serve different purposes. In this instance, we are looking at the case brief that paralegal students are required to prepare in law class. In other words, it is a summary of the primary points in court decisions. In training, students mainly write briefs on appellate court decisions. Taking a closer look at case brief examples, you will realize that they are short, about one page. Knowing how to brief a case is important because you need to apply it in the final exam.
Sample Case Brief Template
When you are faced with the task of writing a case brief, it can be a challenge even for seasoned students. So how do you go about it? The first step is to understand and draft a good case brief format. This will be your blueprint of what to write at different stages. Here is a sample case brief format.
- Publisher of the report.
- The court that issued the ruling and year.
- Posture procedure.
- State the facts.
- What are the main issues of appeal?
- Arguments by each side.
- Policy implications.
- Rule of law.
- The rationale used by the judge of appeal.
- Dissenting opinions if any.
How to Write a Case Brief
Once you have drawn your case brief template, it is time to get down to the real thing. We are now going to delve deeper into the main components of the template when writing a case brief.
- Title of the case and correct citations
- Procedure posture
- Statement facts
- The issue
- The rule
- Application/ reasoning
The title of your case brief provides the reader with what to anticipate in the write-up. It is your chance to set the legal proceedings wheel in motion. For example, the reader will be able to know the plaintiff, appeal, time, and where to get the detail judgment.
Procedure posture is a clear demonstration of how the case ended up at the appellate court. Therefore, you need to capture, in a summary form, the actions that were taken by the lower courts.
A good case brief should capture the summary of the pertinent facts as well as legal points that were raised during the case. It should demonstrate the nature of the litigation, who sued who and on what basis. Facts are summarized at the start of a published court’s opinion. But it is also possible to get facts in the concurring or dissenting opinion.
This is the main case at the court. Here, it is prudent to appreciate that as a legal question, you need to note the main issue and put forward with precision. The impressive thing about court cases is that they mainly commence with words that identify the issues under consideration. A good example is, “the case we are dealing with today is whether ….” The court will move ahead and point the legal issue. The task before the court is determining who will win the case.
Once the issue in the case is established, your case brief should capture the set of laws that judges used to make their decision. Depending on the complexity of the case under consideration, the judgment might require several rules. Often, judges discuss the rules that capture the main points. You need to highlight these rules as clearly as possible.
When you look at some various briefs, it is possible to find some writers referring to the applications as reasoning/ analysis. In this part, you should elaborate on why the judges took the choices they did. At this point, it is prudent to keep in mind all the facts of the case and the different applicable laws. Notably, the court always indicates what the different parties to the case contend. Therefore, it is prudent to read all the sections of the court’s opinion to show how the law was applied.
If there were dissenting opinions, make sure to also scrutinize them. Also, note how the different parties voted in the case. This is important because it indicates what to anticipate in related future cases.
This is the last section of your brief. It should be a relatively short section that indicates whether the appellate court reversed the case or affirmed the decision by the lower court. Here, it is also your opportunity to indicate who won or lost the case.
- Title of the case and correct citations.
- Procedure posture.
- Statement facts.
- The issue.
- The rule.
- Application/ reasoning.
Most legal opinions always highlight the facts in different cases. But you should avoid the temptation of copying word-to-word of the facts captured in the case. Instead, paraphrase them when writing your brief.
When you have a task of preparing a case brief, the first step is reading the case excerpt. As you read, make sure to highlight, underline, and annotate, the information that will go into the case brief.
A case brief, also referred to as a legal brief, is a summary of legal opinion. It is prepared by paralegal students for educational purposes and not submitted to a court of law.
Special Tips for Writing a Case Brief
Often, how to write a legal case brief is considered complex by students because cases are different and one might require reading different pieces of legislation. To make the process of writing legal briefs simpler, here are some additional tips to consider:
- Read other case brief examples to see how pros did their writing. You can also check how different case brief formats are applied.
- Take time practicing writing case briefs. As a law student, the practice should start early. Therefore, take interest and start learning how to brief a case for dummies as early as possible.
- When you are given an assignment on case brief, you should not wait until the last minute to start working on it. Rather, you should start as early as possible to ensure you have ample time to read the judgment and related legislation.
- Make sure to get all the facts about the case. The facts are crucial because they are the most basic info that you need for the brief.
- Do not ignore anything. This means that you should capture all the details of the case so that readers can understand the procedures, date, verdict, and everything about the case.
- Make sure to be as precise as possible. As the name suggests, briefs are short. Therefore, try to be as concise as possible.
- Proofread your work well. Even if you write a very good case brief but it is laden with mistakes, your trainer will not reward top marks. Therefore, it is prudent to carefully proofread your case before submitting for marking. You could even ask an unbiased friend to help proofread the case brief.
When to Seek Writing Assistance Writing Case Brief
As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, most students find it extra difficult mastering how to write a case brief. Even with a comprehensive guide, some students who have written briefs before still feel inadequate. The best option is seeking writing assistance from experts. But the complexity of the case under consideration is not the only thing that can make writing a case brief stressful.
- A case brief assignment with a very tight deadline.
- Other engagements that leave you with no time to handle the case brief.
- Poor writing skills. If your writing skills are poor, your case brief is likely to get you below average grade.
- Any form of stress that makes it difficult for you to concentrate.
If you find yourself in any of the situations above, do not get stressed about how to do a case brief. Instead, seek help immediately. Case brief writing assistance is offered by professionals with a lot of experience. With experts, you can never go wrong!