Case Brief Skills and Professional Lawyering
This essay will describe different parts of a brief in order to give lawyers an idea about what a brief is. In addition, it focuses on to what extent lawyers’ skills on a case brief can function helpfully and what purpose is likely to serve as well as needed indeed. Legal studies present case briefs acknowledged as a necessary study for lawyers and other legal professions to encapsulate and analyze the mountainous mass of material that lawyers must digest.
A case brief represents a final product after reading a case, rereading it, taking it apart, and putting it back together again. In addition, it assists lawyers with preparing a tool for self-instruction and referencing. This also provides a valuable “cheat sheet” for court participation metaphorically. Consequently, practicing lawyers’ clients do not care if they brief, so long as they win the case. Indeed, the judges certainly do not care if they brief, so long as they competently practice the law. Therefore, they are just persons that the brief will serve. As a result, they must keep this in mind when deciding what elements to include as part of their brief and when deciding what information to include under those elements.
The majority of legal academics have presented a unique structure with similar elements for a case brief. Conversely, some legal practitioners alternatively propose various plans including different parts in a case brief. While opinions may vary, four elements that are essential to any practical brief are the following:
(a) Facts (name of the case and its parties, what happened factually and procedurally, and the judgment)
(b) Issues (what is in dispute)
(c) Holding (the applied rule of law)
(d) Rationale (reasons for the holding)
If they include nothing but these four elements, they should have everything they need in order to recall effectively the information from the case during trail sessions or several months later when preparing for defense.
Because briefs are made for themselves, lawyers may want to include other elements expanding the four elements listed above. Depending on the case, the inclusion of additional elements may be more useful. For example, a case that has a long and important section expounding dicta might call for a separate section in their brief labeled: Dicta.
Whatever elements they decide to include, however, remind that the brief is a tool taken into any personal use account. To extend more, its elements will prepare an organization and use it for the brief. On the other hand, if lawyers find that having more elements makes their brief cumbersome and hard to use, cut back on the number of elements. At a minimum, however, they will make sure their brief includes the four elements listed above.
Practically, the four elements do not seem enough to be referenced and brief lawyers about how to manage their case while they need details that they do not have any access again at all. Therefore, other elements are proposed profoundly that lawyers may want to consider in addition to the four basic elements:
(a) Dicta (commentary about the decision that was not the basis for the decision)
(b) Dissent (if a valuable dissenting opinion exits, the dissent’s opinion)
(c) Party’s Arguments (each party’s opposing argument concerning the ultimate issue)
(d) Comments (personal commentary)
It is worth mentioning that personal comments can be useful if lawyers have a thought that does not fit elsewhere. In the personal experience, this element was used to label cases as specific kinds (for example, as a case of vicarious liability) or make mental notes about what a lawyer, for example, found peculiar or puzzling about cases. This element allowed them to release their thoughts (without losing them). It obviously could move on to other cases.
In addition to these elements, some items may be considered by lawyers in order to organize their thoughts, as some people need, by dividing facts into separate elements:
(1) Facts of the case (what actually happened, the controversy)
(2) Procedural History (what events within the court system led to the present case)
(3) Judgment (what the court actually decided)
Procedural history is usually minimal and most of the time irrelevant to the ultimate importance of a case, however this is not always true. The Judgment is the factual determination by the court, in favor of one party, such as “affirmed,” “reversed,” or “remanded.” In contrast, what is the applied is rule of law that serves as the basis for the ultimate judgment.
In conclusion, it is necessary to remember that the purpose of a brief is to remind lawyers of the important details making the case significant in terms of the law. It will be a reference tool when they are drilled practically by judges or other colleagues. It is, therefore, a study aid when they are preparing for trial sessions. In addition, a brief is also like a puzzle piece. Meanwhile, a well-constructed brief will save lawyers by removing the need to return to the case to remember the important details. It also assists them with making the defense easier to put together the pieces of the law puzzle. Obviously, the elements of the brief create the unique shape and colors of the piece, and, when combined with other pieces, the picture of the common law takes form (as assirted by Michael Makdisi. )
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