Lesson 22 of 21
In Progress

5.5: Assessment – Which case information is important?

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Goals

  • To apply what you’ve learned about cases and case reading strategies to help you practice identifying the important information in a case.
  • To practice writing a case brief

Writing a Case Brief

  • Writing a case brief is the process of identifying the information that seems most important in the case and writing it in an organized way that helps you think about the case.
  • What’s “the most important information”?
  • It might be something that feels important to you. It might be what you think will be most important to your professor. If you’re working as a lawyer, it might the information or ideas that are most helpful to your client. Or the information that will persuade a judge.
  • Now that you’ve seen how a professor discusses a case in class, it should help you figure out which information from the case might be important, at least from a law professor’s perspective.
  • In reality, when law students write case briefs, they are guessing at what their professor might consider to be important.
  • Sometimes the guesses are on target, and sometimes they’re not. But over time, all of that guessing helps students develop a better intuition about what information is more important.
  • (Of course, no matter how well you prepare, law professors will always have more challenging questions they can ask you!)
  • In that sense, a case brief is not the end product, but rather it’s part of the process of learning how to think about and understand cases.

Instructions

  1. For each case brief section listed below, in a separate document (on your computer or on a piece of paper) write a short summary of what you think the important information is.
    • This is your first chance to “guess” at the important information. Once you have answered the questions, you will have essentially written a case brief!
  2. After you submit your answers, you can compare your answers to the sample Lefkowitz case briefs (see below.)
  3. Try to notice any similarities and differences between your answers and the sample case briefs.
    • Remember: There is no “correct” case brief, because the audience for a case brief you write is always just you. Every student has their own view of what’s important and what guesses they want to take.
    • But in the beginning, it can also helpful to see what different people focused on after you try to write one.
    • And it can also be helpful to see the kind of language they use. 
  4. Note: You can, of course, just look at the sample Lefkowitz case briefs and copy them and submit them. But then you will deprive yourself of the benefit of learning and building the confidence to actually write a case brief in the future.
  5. When you have finished writing your case brief, email it to your instructor(s).

Questions

Here is a PDF of the Lefkowitz opinion again so that you can use it to help you answer the questions.

  1. What is the case heading for this case?
  2. What is the disposition for this case?
  3. What is the holding for this case?
  4. What is the issue for this case?
  5. What is the important rule or rules for this case?
  6. What are the important facts for this case?
  7. What is the important reasoning for this case?
  8. What is the important procedural history for this case?
  9. Is there anything else you would want to add about the case to help you prepare in case the professor asks you questions about the case? If so, you can write it down here.
  10. Metacognitive reflection questions:
    • Did this process of writing the important parts of the case feel easier than you thought it would be? Or more difficult than you thought it would be?
    • Were there any parts that felt more difficult than others?
    • How confident do you feel in your ability to read and write a case brief for a new case?

Lefkowitz Sample Case Briefs

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