In short, briefing a case is the process of reading a case and pulling out/synthesizing relevant information into a new, concise document.
Usually, the key components of a brief include 1) name of case, court and year 2) relevant background facts 3) the court’s analysis 4) the rule the court used to reach its decision and 5) the holding (or the outcome of the case). You will ideally brief every case that you are required to read, and then bring these briefs to class to help you during the class discussion.
(ct and year)
Plaintiff (1 sentence description)
Defendant (1 sentence description)
: Brief description—what happened to set this case in motion?
: Describe the main issue (***hint—the subsection in the book will usually categorize the case by the main issue)
: What rule did the court use to decide?
: Were there elements? How did the court apply the facts to each element?
You also want to roughly structure your brief using IRAC (see IRAC link for more information). Using the IRAC format (issue, rule, analysis, conclusion) helps you better and more effectively analyze a case. This also aids in more thorough analysis on an exam.
Whenever you are doing a task in law school, remember to consider the objective of what you’re hoping to accomplish. With briefing, you’re hoping to condense relative material about this case into a brief (yes, brief!) analysis of the case. The case names aren’t as important as the process of briefing; the rules and analysis are then applied to hypothetical fact patterns on an exam. Cases and briefs are therefore tools to aid in your analysis of future fact patterns.
Please click here for more information on briefing.