Lesson 22 of 21
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4.0: Introduction to Case Reading Strategies

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Welcome to Case Reading Strategies!

Now that you’re familiar with case briefs and how they help organize and categorize the parts of a court opinion, it will make it a little easier to read cases. With this knowledge, you can now focus on strategies to help you read a case effectively and efficiently.


  • To learn strategies for reading cases that increase comprehension and increase time efficiency


  • Court opinions are often long and complicated, with sophisticated vocabulary, grammar structures, abstract concepts, metaphors, and analogies. They also often require a fair amount of cultural knowledge and other background knowledge to understand the situation.
  • Some cases are shorter, but that does not always mean the case is easier to read. Shorter cases can sometimes be more challenging.
  • And on top of all of that, law students and lawyers often have to read a lot of cases each week, and each day. In fact, one of the biggest challenges reported by international students in U.S. law schools is the amount of reading they have to do. It’s an overwhelming amount even for native English speaking students who grew up in the United States. As a result, it is extremely helpful to learn strategies and tactics that can help you when you’re reading a case.
  • Here’s an important point that will guide you: It’s a lot easier to read a case if you know why you are reading it and what you are looking for. That is, read with a purpose. And by “purpose,” we don’t mean, “Because the professor told us to read it.” We mean, “Why did the professor pick this case? What do they want us to understand from this case? How does this case fit in with the bigger picture? What part of this case could help (or hurt) a hypothetical client I’m representing?”
  • As you work through the modules in this unit you will see that this starting point will help you improve your case reading strategies as student and/or as an attorney reading and discussing US cases.