Free and Accurate Law School Case Briefs

Want to ace your law school exams? Our case briefs can help!
Based on the most popular casebooks, they provide a concise breakdown of key case elements to help you navigate your readings and take better notes. By streamlining your casebook study process, our summaries can improve your outlines and increase your chances of earning top grades. Plus, you can trust that you're studying the right material for class. Start boosting your law school success with our case briefs today!

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Complete Guide to Case Briefs

Law students use case briefings to prepare for lectures, readings, exams, and the natural world of practice. Students adopting the Socratic or "case method" of instruction will find this particularly useful.

The case method is frequently used in first-year law classes instead of lecturing students on the law. They instead use in-depth questions on the reading to spark discussion amongst the class. The questions are meant to help students develop their capacity for critical reading and analysis and their grasp of the subject matter.

Although it may be nerve-wracking to have a professor call on you to "recite" material about a case, the case teaching method promotes more in-depth preparation for class. In addition, it helps students hone their oral presentation skills. Self-education in new areas of law is essential, as is the ability to answer challenging inquiries from judges and superiors confidently. Your classes and other law school activities will be the initial training grounds for developing these abilities.

What is Case Briefing?

The term "briefing" refers to extracting the most relevant parts of a judicial ruling and writing them up in a concise summary for use in courses that employ the case method of instruction.

There is more than one benefit to putting together these summaries in writing.

  • First, you'll need to be an avid and critical reader for your briefing. Briefing the case requires carefully reading the court's ruling and identifying key points and supporting details. To be helpful, case briefs need to include just the right amount of detail without overwhelming the reader. Choosing what to include and in what depth can be challenging and time-consuming at first, but it helps you develop skills and judgment that will serve you well later.
  • Second, you can anticipate your teacher's inquiries with the information provided in the briefing. After briefing a case, you will have a deeper comprehension and retention of the subject, and you will have your case summary available for future reference. The questions posed by your professor will test your knowledge of the case at hand and your speculations about the precedent it may set. The doctrine of stare decisis states that courts must make conclusions in light of earlier rulings. Predicting when a case will supply the rule for future disputes is a crucial part of case analysis and briefing and an important part of a lawyer's job. This will depend on whether or not the new case shares any crucial similarities with the old one.
  • Third, course outlines, which are crucial in preparation for a law school exam, are built from the raw information provided by case briefs. Effective case analysis requires knowing how a case works on the inside, comparing that case to a new situation with similar facts to see if it will provide the rule for the new situation, synthesizing multiple cases to get a unified, coherent, and possibly complex set of rules in an area of law, and applying the unified rules to new facts to predict an outcome.

Therefore, case briefs are a valuable teaching resource. However, professors typically do not require students to submit the case briefs they have students write as part of their preparation for class.

How to Write a Case Brief?

Even though there is some variance in how students (and lawyers) draft case briefs, the following sections are usual, after identifying information for the individual sections, you should assess the links between them.


References to cases are "citations" and are short summaries of information found in secondary legal sources. Later in the year, you'll learn the correct citation format, but for now, be sure to include the following in your case briefs: Basic publication information, such as the case reporter volume, reporter abbreviation, and first-page number of the opinion (e.g., 889 N.E.2d141), the court that decided the case (e.g., Ohio App.), and the year it was decided.

Name of the Parties

The name of the case (typically the last names of the opposing parties, e.g., Cole v. Turer).

Facts of the Case

Include who filed suit against whom and under what legal basis in the preceding section. In addition, include the outcome of the case, any appeals, and any notable procedural developments that occurred in the lower court(s).

Focus on the essential facts that determined the verdict. Next, you must determine which pieces of evidence the court relied upon most heavily. Factors in the case, party attributes, and the dispute's procedure are all examples of what could fall under this category. After reading the whole opinion, rather than as you go along, it is frequently easier to determine which facts are crucial.

A fact contributing to the outcome will remain relevant in similar situations. You can better evaluate the decision's implications for similar situations in the future if you isolate the relevant facts. For example, suppose the presence of a given set of circumstances in a future case makes applying a particular set of legal rules or consequences likely. In that case, you should be able to anticipate the rulings of the new court. Furthermore, you must know which facts entail the various principles studied throughout the semester to succeed on law school tests that consist of hypothetical fact situations.

Be specific enough in your summary of the major information to serve as a reminder to yourself later, but don't get bogged down in the weeds to the point that you lose sight of the forest for the trees. In making their decisions, courts frequently provide context-setting or otherwise fascinating or odd elements that aren't always important to the case.


Pinpoint the precise area of law at issue. For example, most published opinions are those of the courts of appeal; hence, the matter will likely involve correcting a mistake made by the lower court.

The court will often indicate the issue it is weighing. Nonetheless, it is important to compare the court's interpretation of the issue with the rest of the ruling. For example, you may find that the court's formulation of the issue is too broad, too narrow, or too particular for your needs. Therefore, each issue that the court considered should be briefed independently.

Your issue needs to avoid being either too broad or too narrow. Many argue that the holding constitutes the issue at hand and that if you pin down the holding first, you'll have a much easier time formulating your issue statement.


This case's holding should not only declare the outcome of the disagreement but also explain how that outcome contributes to the existing body of law in the field. To avoid cluttering the canon with unimportant rulings, courts should only publish those that significantly alter the status quo or apply settled law to novel situations. Take into account the new "case rule."

The challenge of deciding how broadly or narrowly to articulate the holding arises. Because the new rule will appear to apply to many instances, the relevance of the case may be overstated if it is framed in very general language. On the other hand, if the decision is framed in a way that makes it seem to apply to situations with identical or somewhat similar facts, its future relevance may be understated.


Summarize how and why the court reached its verdict. Explain the court's reasoning for its ruling and how it applied the law to the case's specifics. In addition, outline any policy concerns (such as those underlying the existing rules, the broader domain of law, or even greater social principles) on which the court relied, whether directly or implicitly.

As you compose this part, remember that case briefing has a specific purpose. Take care to detail the parts of the court's analysis that will help you determine if the same rationale and underlying policy concerns would apply to a new set of facts, even if it's been three months since you first read the case. Consider how different the circumstances would need to be for the same conclusion to be true in a fresh scenario.

Concurrences and Dissents

All opinions in the casebook, both in agreement and disagreement, should be addressed in your brief. It is important to keep your summary concise, as concurrences and dissents in casebook opinions are typically much shorter than the majority opinion. Explain in great detail why the court mandated a second writing task.