Case Brief


A case brief (as opposed to a persuasive brief) is the dissection of a judicial opinion. It contains a written summary of the basic components of that decision.


Case briefing helps you acquire the skills of case analysis and legal reasoning. Briefing a case helps you understand it, the relevant cases that came before and the significance of the case in influencing future relevant cases.


The first step in briefing a case is to read the court decision. For many of you this will be the first time you will read a court decision verbatim rather than someone else’s interpretation of it. Courts have unique writing styles.  Don’t be surprised if it takes you multiple readings before you understand the case.


Make certain that your brief contains the following sections:

·         Name of the Case and Citation

·         Facts of the Case

·         Legal Issue(s)

·         Court’s Decision

·         Rationale

·         Implications

There are some minor differences in the way schools ask students to prepare briefs. There is no shortage of examples:

·         The Lawnerds website provides information here

·         This one is from the University of Kentucky

·         Or, from the University of Louisiana

·         University of Missouri Kansas City

·         University of Maryland

·         City University of New York

Just be certain that the brief you prepare contains the required sections. Briefs are meant to be brief. Using one inch margins and Times New Roman 12 pt. type, no brief should exceed two single-spaced pages. Part of the exercise is to distinguish what really matters in a case from “the rest.” Be sure to eliminate the legalese: make it something any educated person can understand.

Your assignments are due by March 31. Late papers will be penalized. No brief will be accepted after April 27. NOTE: papers received after March 31 will be lowered by at least one letter grade for tardiness. Papers received after April 27 will not be graded and the student will receive a zero for the assignment.