How to Write a Case Brief
As a student of law you should write a case brief in your first or second year. If you think that this is a hard task, you should better stop studying law because a lot of even harder tasks will be assigned to you henceforth. Writing a case brief requires merely an ability to present important information about a given court trial, and then analyze it, by using your knowledge in the field. This does not mean you must be an expert: as a beginner you will be allowed to start from something easy.
Let’s now turn to the essence of your task. What should you do in order to accomplish it? The tips given below will shed light upon the question how to write a case brief.
1. What is a case brief?
A case brief is usually such an outline of a given court trial which is used in classroom. Thus, law students learn how to analyze cases and how to apply their theoretical knowledge in practical affairs.
2. Structure of the case brief
A typical case brief has the same structure. However, you should talk to your instructor about this. Your case brief should contain the following mandatory sections:
- essence of the case
- decision of the court
- analysis of the decision
In addition, you may add some bibliography as well as other interesting points related to the particular case.
In the initial part of your paper you need to define the case as well as identify both parties. First, you must tell whether the case is a civil suit or a criminal case. Then you have to tell a little about the parties - if the case is a civil suit, then one side is called plaintiff/s, and the other side - defendant/s. In the latter case there is/are not plaintiff/s on the one side, but the state or federal government.
4. Essence of the case
Here you need to gather all the necessary information about the case and to present it concisely and accurately. Try to use several sources (if possible). Now, you need to present the case as objectively as possible. Be careful while dealing with information since some sources can lack neutrality. Try to use phrases such as “it is believed”, “it is claimed”, “the person A has seen that…”, “it is assumed that…”, and so forth. Do not refer to the fact statements as absolutely true.
The next thing is to say what is the applicable law in the case. Present shortly the motives of the plaintiffs (or the government) and the defense of the defendants.
5. Decision of the court
Here you can easily present the decision of the court. You can cite some paragraphs from it and then explain them as to clarify their meaning and reasoning.
6. Analysis of the decision
Here you could demonstrate your comprehensive knowledge in the field of law and your analytical skills. Pay attention especially to the motives of the jury and the decision of the judge. Pay heed to the fact that sometimes it happens that someone from the jury does not agree with the decision. In this case there is a dissenting opinion. If this is the case, then you need to refer to it and explain it as well.
In conclusion, you can add a paragraph about the significance of this case - maybe there was some reaction of the society concerning it? The impacts of some court trials could not be initially predicted but sometimes they can have huge influence over the society.
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