Be a 2L amongst 1Ls: Learn how to brief a case before law school starts

how to brief a case

One the most  important things to manage in law school is time. Your first term is about three months long and professors will pack a ton of material into that window. Don’t spend two months learning how to walk while your professors expect you to run.

Knowing how to read and analyze cases early can be a huge advantage in the highly competitive law school environment. We can help you:

  • Avoid problems with traditional briefing;
  • Save time; and
  • Feel more prepared and less overwhelmed during your first semester.

Don’t assume your school will teach you how to brief. The vast majority of schools won’t teach you how to analyze a case. They will just expect you to figure it out yourself.

The problem with traditional briefing

It’s time consuming. For every hour of reading, briefing (the traditional way) can add another 20 to 40 minutes if you’re not good at it. And at first, no one is good at it. That’s how your daily 4 hours of reading just became 6 hours of work. And that’s how you lose valuable time that you could have spent putting together outlines and prepping for finals.

Knowing how to brief a case is important

Structure. When you’re learning how to read cases, briefing gives you a structured approach to reading actively. You’re looking for each case element in every single case. With practice, it becomes second-nature. This is a critical skill for practicing attorneys who need to quickly read a lot of cases, weed out the irrelevant ones, and extract exactly what they need.

Grades. Law school grades are largely determined by:

  • Class preparation;
  • Attendance;
  • Outlining; and
  • Practice exams.

Case briefing falls under class preparation. Getting the most out of class is one of the most important factors when it comes to grades. After reading 10 to 20 cases on any given night, you’ll need your briefs when your professor calls on you and expects you to rattle off specific case elements. Case briefs are also the foundation for your outline, as many outlines start as a combination of your briefs and class notes.

So what should you do?

Start early. Start reading and learning how to brief a case now. This will prevent you from playing catch-up later in the semester when you are under pressure and have no time to learn an entirely new skill.

Practice. While the mechanics of case analysis are easy to learn, getting good at it only comes with practice.  You can use LearnLeo’s free pre-law tutorial now to learn how to identify basic case elements, practice case analysis, and check your work. After going through LearnLeo’s pre-law tutorial in a low-stakes environment before school starts, you’ll be better prepared and less stressed than your classmates who walk into the first day of class cold.

Once school starts, our free case briefing app can save you hours of class prep time every week. For more on preparing for law school, check out other articles in our Pre-Law series:

And keep an eye on the blog for more Pre-Law posts.

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