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How to Write a Case Brief: Rules, Tips & Examples

Home / Blog / How to Write a Case Brief: Rules, Tips & Examples

 Krishna   August 8, 2022  Assignment  0

Legal case briefs help lawyers encapsulate the extensive mass of material about a case and present the essentials in a digestible form. As a law student, you will often be asked to write a case brief that represents the critical aspects of a case. Now, if you do not know how to write a case brief, then things can get all the more confusing for you.

You will have to read the case to take it apart and then put it back together again. Moreover, a legal case brief serves as an instrument that you can use later on for self-instruction and referencing. So, you cannot ignore it altogether.  

Even as a professional lawyer, you will come to realize the value of briefing when you need to have the case at a glance. But to make that happen, you will need to know how to brief a case properly. On that note, let us explore the elements that you need to include in your law case brief. Read on to know what information to include under each of these elements.

How to Write a Law Brief on a Case: Format Essentials

Since you do not know how to write a case brief, the differing rules from different people will confuse you initially. When you get into law school, you may find that the brief format that each of your instructors asks you to follow varies.

Irrespective of that, you will always find four elements in common. They are:

  • the facts, which include the name of the case and the parties involved, the incident that the case is based on factually, along with the judgment

[Additionally, you can divide the segment into separate elements, like - the controversy around the case, the Procedural History that led the case to the court system and the Judgment]

  • The Dispute, that is the issues that amount up to the dispute
  • The Holding the rule of law that has been applied to solve the case
  • The Rationale that states the reasons behind the holding

While these four elements will cover the critical points of a case that you must remember, it is not a hard and fast rule to stick to just these. You need to remember that you write a case brief not for your professor or your client when you enter the professional world. The reason law school professors teach you how to write a legal brief on a civil case is so that you benefit from the habit later on. So, if you want to include other segments, feel free to do so.

Suppose, you are dealing with a case involving a section expounding dicta. In that case, you may create a separate section labelled Dicta in brief. At the same time, do not get swayed and include everything because that will make it cumbersome for you to use the brief. Add those elements only that will help you organize the brief.

Since you do not know how to write a case brief for law school yet, here is a list of elements beyond the four essentials. Use this guide to cut back on irrelevant details that you might have just added.

  • Dicta, where you include the commentary on the decision
  • Dissent, where you note down the valuable points that the dissenting party has stated so that you know what you have to prove wrong
  • Party’s Arguments, which includes each party’s opposing argument concerning the issue
  • Comments, where you include points that you find peculiar or puzzling about the case in question

A well-constructed case brief can save you a lot of time by making it easier for you to put together all the pieces of a law puzzle. Now, knowing the essentials will not teach you how to write a law case brief if you do not understand what goes under each segment. Read on to delve deeper into on that.

How to Write a Case Brief: General Template

You do not learn how to brief a legal case unless you know which parts of a case are relevant enough to include in the brief. For the first few times, you will feel that everything the judge and the jury said was relevant. But you cannot include everything. The focus should be on the key terms that will remind you of the most critical parts of the case.

Consider these factors when writing a legal case brief:

  • Include facts that remind you of the story and how the law in the case was applied.
  • Consider facts that point out results that affect the decision in the case. For instance, a white car is a determining factor.
  • Make sure to include the facts chronologically, as per the procedural history, to figure out how did the court arrive at the outcome.
  • If the court addresses multiple issues, distinguish the issues from the arguments made by the parties. Note down only the relevant issues and their corresponding conclusions.
  • For the rationale, note down the basic reasoning used and the key factors that made the court favor one side more than the other.

Always remember that it is called a case brief because it should be brief! Do not write an overly long brief that it becomes difficult for you to skim when you review your notes. At the same time, do not make it short to the extent that it lacks sufficient information to refresh your memory. The ideal length would be one page. To break down the mass material of a case and organize your legal case brief, you can use annotating and highlighting.

In what follows, you will find a few tips for your legal writing homework that’ll help you write a concise legal brief that covers all the key aspects in an organized way.

How to Write a Case Brief for Law School: Tips and Tricks

When it comes to any form of legal writing, as a budding lawyer, you should adhere to three C’s: clarity, conciseness and crispness. Here are 5 tips that will help will immensely if you do not know how to write a case brief for law school or how you can avail an assignment help on law topics.

  • Use simple English

Make sure that your brief does not confuse you when you read it to revise the crucial facets of the case. While writing the brief as an assignment, this will help you score well when the professor sees that you can convey the required message without using words that a reader does not understand.

  • Understand the problem

Read all the related documents of the case and understand the situation from the perspective of the client. This will help you write a good motion. Try to break the issue into segments and note down the appropriate specifics to write a good research memo.

  • Annotate and highlight

Use a pencil to mark off the different sections and annotate the margins of your casebook with personal commentary. Annotations will serve as a roadmap that will take you to pertinent parts of a case swiftly when you return to it after a while. Highlight using color codes to review the more complicated aspects that are not easy to digest.

  • Explore a lot

Read law books such as Corpus Secundum and American Jurisprudence. Again, do not limit yourself to textbooks and explore digests, indexes and treatizes from books written by well-known authors. For online searches, use Westlaw or Lexis. Alongside, use the advanced search function in Google books for a variety of other resources.

  • Cut out unnecessary sentences

Legal writing and verbosity don’t gel well. So, read your paper and weed out every complicated word that you may have used. Edit the brief using a fine-toothed comb to cut down paragraphs and sentences that you feel are unnecessary. You can also ask a friend or a senior to read through and give a feedback.

Writing legal briefs can be a complex task, that is also indispensable. As a lawyer, you will be spending less time in the courtroom and more time drafting legal documents. So, if you do not know how to write a perfect case brief, study as many samples as possible and practice hard using these tips.

Even after following the tips, if you still face issues while writing legal briefs, do not hesitate to seek law assignment help from online legal experts. 

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