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Case brief example, writing tips, and more

February 18, 2020

If you are a law student, you probably have heard a lot about a case brief. Even if you have no idea of what exactly is it, you surely have heard of that notion at least a couple of times. And we bet this is not your favorite assignment.

It’s not a secret that students mostly hate or are afraid of case briefs rather than love them. But what is the reason for it? Don’t worry, a case brief sounds worse than it really is. And if you are one of those students who struggle with writing a case brief, you came to the right place!

Law students know that the term “brief” may serve for different goals in such an interesting field called law. And this article is about the case brief that is a summary of the main points of the court decision, as a rule, the decision of the appellate court. The paper is usually not long.

And the briefing is aimed to understand the main principles of law and how law can be applied to a certain chain of facts. When you are preparing for your final exams, you should write a case brief, too, so that is why you need to know how to write it exactly

The standard structure of every case brief

Before you even start working on your case brief, you should know what the constituents of such paper are:

  • Title;
  • Publisher;
  • The court and year when it was held;
  • The position of the procedure, i.e. how the case got to the court of appeal;
  • A narrative story with facts statement;
  • The issues decided on appeal;
  • Arguments from both sides;
  • Policy implications;
  • Rule of law;
  • Justification (appeals used by judges when making their decision);
  • Dissenting views.

Let’s write your case brief

We recommend starting with the citation, i.e. writing the names of both parties, for example, “Hoskins versus Norton”. Also, at the very beginning, you should state the source and publisher, the court making the decision under discussion and the date (year) of the publication of the final opinion.

Remember the key constituents of a case brief stated above? Now let’s find out how to write each of them brick-by-brick.

Statement facts

You should get focused on every single fact first. Do your research and distinguish the facts that are the most important for the decision made by the court. You should omit the facts that don’t have any relation to the made decision.

Once you read the facts dealing with the case, you can exclude those that are not connected with the decision made by the court. The facts defined at trial are to be determined, too.

The history of the procedure

In this part, you should answer the core questions, including:

  • What was the path of the case to the court?
  • What court made this decision?

You should identify from what court that case came – the trial court of appeal or another appellate one.

The problem

The problem (issue) is a legal question and the main thing the court doesn’t start panicking right now because modern courts start all cases with defining the related issue, so it is very helpful and you should not even worry about how to do it.

The case has to begin with the words “the issue we face today is…” So, the legal issue is stated by the court and you can know it well. But sometimes the trial is about a personal issue that may be a problem for the court.

If that is the case, it is necessary to find out who wins the case. It is an essential question that should be answered shortly (with one or two words).

The rule

The rule is a choice of law used by the judges for their decision. If the issue is too complicated and consists of more than one problem, there might and should be several rules. Quite frequently, judges follow several different rules subject to the facts. They have a vivid discussion and determine every important aspect.

Application

If you wish, call it analysis and t it is aimed to account for the choice of judges. The facts cannot be forgotten and should be related to the law used in the trial. The court should determine what is assumed by each of the parts. When the parts are read carefully, it is easier to define the way of how the law was applied to the problem under discussion.

Conclusion

This part should be short and precise. Here your task is to write whether the case is affirmed or reversed by the court and held for the appellant, appellee, or defendant. The conclusion will also determine who wins and who loses.

Facts to include

Often, people assume that everything said by the judge is relevant to his conclusion. But don’t hurry up while not everything said by the judge (even if it was relevant to make his conclusion) has to be included in the case brief.

A brief is aimed not to convince everyone that the ultimate decision was right but to determine what the most crucial parts of the case were. Below, you will find those facts that have to be included in the case brief:

  • The facts reminding you of the entire story. In case you forgot the story, you can’t remember the applied law.
  • Reasoning or rationale. Not all things discussed in court can be relevant to the reasoning of the decision. Make sure to include only the main rationale used by the court to make the decision.
  • Relevant issues. It may sound very easy but it is not just because there might be tons of issues discussed in the court. You should learn how to distinguish the issues from the parties’ arguments. Relevant issues are only those that made the court make their ultimate decision.
  • The facts are suitable for the decision in the case. For example, if there is something particularly related to the case, you should state its shape, color, brand, etc. The history of the procedure is very important for the outcome.
  • Remember that a brief has to be short! Long briefs are not helpful at all and too difficult to review, so make sure to make yours short enough. But it should include all the crucial information at the same time. The best length of the brief case would be one page.

If you were assigned a case brief, don’t get too upset or desperate. A case brief isn’t easy to write, it requires your knowledge, skills, practice, time, and, of course, patience. You will master it slowly but you will need to write as many briefs as possible.

The stages of writing a case brief

If you want to write an outstanding case brief, try to follow the steps below:

  1. Read the case at least twice.
  2. Make notes of the facts.
  3. Find the best format for your brief (don’t forget it should not be longer than a page).
  4. Write a plan (it will help you put all your ideas together).
  5. Explain every part of your brief in your own words.
  6. Include another opinion in your casebook.
  7. Stick to your format.
  8. Review your paper and check it for all grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes.
  9. Give it some time and get back to it in a couple of days and reread it.
  10. Track the similarity of the case and other cases.
  11. Say whether you agree or disagree with the decision of the court and why.

Brief cases are aimed to let every student understand the principles of law much deeper and better. If you want to be a lawyer, you have to think, and you will do it a lot. No one can become perfect at once. Practice will make you perfect. And if you want to succeed in your future career, you should write a lot of brief cases.

The steps and tips described in that article should help you write a great case brief of your own. But for that, you should not procrastinate and should devote enough time to writing that paper. We realize that lots of students lack time, have part-time jobs, families, parties, and other more important subjects to study.

So, if you are one of those students who will never find enough time for such an important task, you can always ask for the help of professional writers. In that case, you will have a guarantee of a 100% plagiarism-free and top-quality case brief. If you are one of those students whose time is precious, you can save it and get an outstanding paper written by an expert in the field!

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