Academic Writing

Case brief example: Expert hints on writing

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Case briefs help students to analyze and summarize information regarding a specific case, serve as a reference tool and a prompt to participate in class discussions. Thus, it is highly important for law students to know how to write a case brief example. Besides, case briefs are among the most often assigned writing tasks in law schools. Hence, this guide will introduce you to the basics of case brief writing and the sections your case brief should have. 

How long should the case be?

It seems that the words “case brief” speak for themselves. When the case is large, and details are abundant, you may have hard times trying to be brief and concise. You may find it difficult to include only the most relevant facts. Besides, you may have difficulty defending your opinion. You may find too many precedents or have too many details to support your opinion. We strongly advise that your case brief does not exceed 600-700 words. This word count does not include any court opinions.

Let us begin

  • Facts: Your case brief format should begin with a review of major facts. A case may contain dozens of facts. However, your task is to choose the most relevant ones. Make sure that all facts in your case brief are relevant to its outcomes. The main purpose of case brief writing is to provide your readers with an outline of the most influential facts and circumstances. You may have hard times selecting the key facts. However, do not worry. You can do it. Make sure that you have denoted each party of the case. Name the defendant, the plaintiff, and so on.
  • Case history: Here you will describe the way the case progressed until this moment. Include dates of hearings and filings, court rulings, motions, verdicts, and so on. However, do not be too detailed. After all, this is not the most important part of the case narrative. Of course, it may happen that your professor loves procedural details. If that is the case, follow your professor’s requirements.
  • Issue: Now it is time to specify the issue or issues considered in the case. Most of the time, these issues will be framed as questions. You will follow these questions while working on the next sections of the case brief.
  • Holding (ruling): Here you provide answers to the question or questions mentioned in the previous section of the case brief. At first, you answer the question (e.g., yes), and then provide a detailed rationale for the ruling. Sometimes, you may need to scroll the entire case down to find reasons or factors justifying the final ruling.
  • Laws: Sometimes, you will not have difficulty identifying the law or laws used in the case ruling. At other times, you may want to dig deeper in order to understand how and why justices in this particular case made their decisions.
  • Reasoning: Now you have reached the most important and difficult part of the case brief. Here, you will explore and elaborate on the reasons or arguments underlying the court’s ruling. Follow your professor’s requirements. Some professors really enjoy when their students produce a detailed legal reasoning using the laws and regulations pertaining to the case. Some others want their students to go further and explore the policies, procedures, and other documents that might have been relevant in this case. Your professor may want you to look for precedents and cite other court decisions. Your task is to understand and justify the logic of the court. 
  • Opinions: Here you will specify and discuss both the concurring and the dissenting opinions in the case. Do not spend too much time and space when working on this part of the case brief. Specify the most important aspects and the rationale behind each opinion.
  • Importance: Now that you have completed the key steps in case brief writing, you may want to share your opinion of the case and evaluate its implications for law and justice. You may want to predict the impacts the ruling in this case will have on future decisions. Again, try to understand what your professor wants. Follow the steps below to check the consistency of your argument.

11 Steps in Case Brief Writing
01 Read the case thoroughly. You may
need to do it more than twice.
02 Outline the most important facts.
03 See what case brief format you
must follow. Consult your
04 Develop an outline for your case
brief. Follow it while working on
your project.
05 Follow the recommendations
above. Address each point and
include details.
06 Consider other opinions or review
the critique of the case.
07 Do not forget about the importance
of case brief format.
08 Review grammar and spelling.
09 Take a break. Get back to your case
within a day or two.
10 See how the case fits in the
historical and legal context.
11 Express your opinion. Do you agree with the ruling?

When working on a case brief, you should have a clear understanding of the legal principles used by the court. Also, you should understand what you feel and think about the case. The purpose of case brief writing is to improve your understanding of laws and legal principles. Just imagine that you are a lawyer, and you should understand the logic of the court or the judge when preparing the argument. By analyzing these cases, you can capture the logic of legal decision making and use it in your practice. Besides, as you learn from the case, you can use them as precedents in your legal practice. 

Case brief writing: Concluding remarks

As you are working on a case brief, do not forget that it is your reiteration of a legal case. You will need to write dozens of case briefs as you are completing the legal course. You may want to use a textbook sample if you want to structure your case brief properly. However, it is better to ask your professor about the style and format to follow when working on the case brief. 

You can follow different case brief formats. However, regardless of the format used, you will need to include facts of the case, issue addressed, concurrent and dissenting opinions, and rationale for each opinion. Also, in any format, the word count should not exceed 700 words. Be thorough and follow these recommendations if you want to earn the highest grade. It is time to choose the case you want to brief. Follow our recommendations, and you will have the best case among your fellow students.

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