Let me be totally frank, I know that you feel case briefing sucks the big one.
It’s time-consuming, frustrating to type or write out, and you wish you could be doing anything else. Right?
Well, I hate to break it to ya, but briefing is a must. Anyone who says they don’t do it, but they still get by in class is *probably* lying. There’s just too much damn information in law texts for someone – without an eidetic memory – to claim they know. Furthermore, being able to recall the case information, is not the same skill as being able to apply the rule of law from said case to another hypo.
To recap, briefing is time-consuming. I understand. But you can make it easier on yourself by working smarter…not harder.
Brief INSIDE your book! No professor is going to say you can’t bring your book to class. [However, you may have some professors that deny you the use of technology in class – which means briefing in your ebook could be a problem).
Since you can bring your giant text to class, you may as well make it useful!
All you need is a set of highlighters, a pen (or two) of your choice, and your casebook!
I recently purchased a set of Sharpie highlighters, and have immediately fallen for them. They don’t smear, even after highlighting a freshly printed document. [You may not care about smudging, but I do]. I also like that these highlighters have a chiseled tip, and are about the width of a line in the text. Perfect highlighting, nearly every time!
1. Make sure you pick at least 4 colors to use in your cases. I say this because using the same highlighter for all parts of your case defeats the purpose of you learning this method. You simply cannot use the same 1 or 2 colors for every piece of your brief; that would be asinine.
These sharpies are my new favorite study find. I found the 4 pack on Amazon, but came across the 8 pack (pictured below) at Office Depot. I recommend the larger pack, simply because the extra color options are perfect for case briefs!
2. Designate a color for each part of your case brief.
- Yellow = Issue
- Orange = Facts
- Green = Reasoning
- Blue = Procedural Posture
- Neon Pink = Holding
- The extra pastel pink & purple are mainly used for argument identification, or particularly interesting opinions from dissenting judges.
I highlight each case in the same manner, and the repetition of colors (when cold-called in class) makes things much easier to find within the case itself. This method also works particularly well when paired with book tabs. I enjoy flipping through a text, and adding pieces of information to my outlines for each class.
At first this method may frustrate you – especially if this is your first time to organize your casebook. I recommend trying it for a few cases before deciding to give up on book briefing with the color-coded sections.
You need to find what works best for you!
Between highlighting and writing in the margins, my grasp of case law continues to improve. This method is, by far, my favorite.
Hope this helps you.