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How to Write a Case Brief

How to Write a Case Brief

Writing a case brief is a simple task, once you take note of the basics. Read on to know more...
Medha Godbole
A case brief is a legal document a lawyer, government, or any advocacy organization submits to the court. The purpose is to put across to the court the legal and policy arguments for supporting a legal position. Law students, paralegals, and clerks need to know about these documents, and how are they written.

Writing A Case Brief

One important rule to follow is that the document should begin with the name or title of the case, such as XYZ v. ABC, followed by the court citation.

Step 1 - Facts
Begin by pointing out and emphasizing the defining facts of the case. To be specific, those which will surely have an impact on the result of the case must be mentioned. The objective is to tell the story of the case without missing any vital points, but at the same time eliminating needless inclusions.

Step 2 - Record
In legal terminology, this is termed as procedural history. This means that the person making the brief has to record or make a detailed note of what happened procedurally in the case, till the point of the brief being written. This includes the dates of case filings, motions of summary judgment, court rulings, trials, and verdicts or judgments.

Step 3 - Main Issue
Formulate the main issue or issues in the case, in a question-answer form. But it will be just a yes/no, as that will help you present the holding in the next section of the brief.

Step 4 - Holding
Holding refers to a direct response to a question formulated by you while dealing with the main issue.

Step 5 - Law Rules
The rule of law aspect in the briefing points out the principle of law on which the judge or justice will be determining the resolution of the case.

Step 6 - Reasoning and Justification
This is another very important feature. This section is a description of why the court ruled the way it did. This is crucial as it primarily binds all the parts of the case together. This section traces the reasoning of the court step by step, and picks up where the last section left off.

Step 7 - Concurrence or Dissent
In this last section, you have to point out a concurring or dissenting judge's basic point of contention. That means, whether the judge's decision was agreed upon or not.

This was a basic overview of writing case briefs. Examples can be found on the Internet at the click of your mouse, or in law books. Before you check out these samples, talk to professors or senior lawyers whom you may be assisting. That will be of great help.