How to Write a Case Brief
A case brief is a paper devoted to a summary and analysis of a specific legal case. The document aims to present the key background facts about the case, as well as the applied rulings. Legal briefs intend to concisely summarize the court’s decision. A case brief can be a valuable resource for students majoring in Law and adjacent disciplines. Check out how these documents can be useful:
- they highlight the most significant aspects of the legal case, thus easing the process of producing information;
- they identify the key legal rules and principles applied to the case;
- they depict how a specific legal case fits within the learned topic or material over the course;
- they prove to be a great tool for studying a specific topic.
How to structure a legal brief? There are different requirements concerning its mode of organization. Different law schools and educational establishments have different standards; so, students often get confused and search for assistance asking to write my case brief. While these requirements may differ, there are some standard rules as to what constituents a case brief should have. Check them out:
- Facts. When providing facts, you should answer such questions as «when,» «who,» «how,» «why,» «what,» «where,» and others. These details provide the setting of events and the essence of the court`s ruling. You need to come up with the most relevant and credible information.
- Issues. You should describe the central issue of the case. Also, you have to formulate the question that the court should address before making the final decision. Some cases may have a few issues, so try to address the most significant ones.
- Holding. This is the answer to the raised issues. For numerous issues, you need to present a separate holding. This part of the legal brief should consist of the court`s decision and its details without your full explanation and analysis of it.
- Rationale. These are a number of reasons that the court should come up with before making a verdict. So, in the rationale part, you should summarize the major reasons as to why the court has taken that specific decision.
Steps in Case Brief Writing
Step 1. Formulate the Title of the Case
At the beginning of the brief, you should come up with a concise title that reflects on the main idea of the hearing. It helps to later identify this particular case. A well-composed title should contain the names of the defendant and the plaintiff, who are conflicting parties to a lawsuit. You have to ensure you make it clear in the very body of the case who sued and who was sued.
Step 2. Identify the Core Facts of the Case
You should state and describe the major facts that are essential to the case. This section plays a key role since it is necessary to define legal principles that derive from the legal situations that occurred in the given case. You have to mention only relevant facts that bear some meaning. You should give preference to those that have an influence on the outcome of the case. If the lawsuit concerns a personal injury that resulted from a road accident, the car color would hardly be relevant to the case outcome. In the case of different versions provided in the court of law by the defendant and the plaintiff, it is necessary to focus on those details that relate to the court`s focus.
Step 3. State the Legal Issue
The central issue of the legal case is your argument, which should present facts provided to the court, as well as the main question posed there. You should formulate it as a legal question that could be unambiguously answered with «yes» or «no». If there are some constitutional rights involved or related to the case, you should address them in the order of relevance.
Step 4. Outline the Law Rulings
You should focus on the legal principles that form the end decision of the court. The court’s legal opinion may involve more than one law principle. So, your task here is to be objective and address one law that is the most closely related to the legal issue. You need to present and describe it in a clear way so that it is comprehensible for the readers with average knowledge. The rule of law should clearly address the question stated in the section on the legal issue with the only difference that it should be modified to the reply form.
Step 5. Provide Holdings and Decisions
In the legal brief, a decision section is devoted to presenting the court’s answer to the central question. When coming up with the decision, judges and attorneys should take into account procedural holdings. They should also refer to the constitution, statutes, or judicial doctrines, and interpret them. The issues described should be clear and concise. Resultantly, the decision made from the issues should be simple and clear too. Overall, the final statement should be simple enough for a law student to understand it.
Step 6. Focus on Reasoning
Reasoning relates to the sequence of arguments that serve as the basis of the court`s verdict. The arguments should be provided in relation to dissenting and concurring opinions. If there is no ample reasoning and solid argument, the court of law does not make the decision since the rules and facts are not highlighted and it is not clear how relevant these are to the problem. In their turn, they are more focused on a detailed and clear outline of the issues and events that are logically presented in the body of the case. This sequence of arguments presented in the proper order acts as a rationale before coming up with the verdict.
Step 7. Make Your Case Brief
As inferred from the very name of the document, the legal brief should be brief. So, avoid providing a detailed and extended restatement of the whole case. You should try to present the main facts succinctly and logically. Maintain a balance between being concise and providing ample details from the reasoning in the court. You have to ensure there are sufficient details to be integrated into your class notes.
Take into consideration that a legal brief is not the type of academic document that students should spend a great deal of time and energy on. You can figure out how to do it with proper guidelines and professional support. In the majority of cases, you need to have sufficient samples and get enough practice. They are informal documents that are aimed at a narrow audience. You should present them in the way that suits you best. The underlying rule about creating an effective brief is to ensure it fulfills its purpose – it presents a logical and short overview of the main opinions and law principles.
With the help of this legal document, you can get a more in-depth and comprehensible understanding of legal principles. If you wish to be successful in your legal writing, you should take into account that your efficacy comes with practice and experience. As such, the more you read, the more skilled you become as a lawyer. With this extensive reading, you can also practice your eye for details and understanding of why the court makes certain decisions.