Case Briefs v. Book Briefs

Case Briefs v. Book Briefs

Case briefs are great. Really truly great, especially when you are a new law student who is nervous, and you need a safety net during cold calls. The thing is, as you get more used to your classes and more confident in your abilities in legal analysis, you will probably find that briefing cases feels a little inefficient and redundant.

Enter: Book Briefs.

Book briefing is nice because you can do it as you go along, your thoughts and notes are right there in the book, and you don’t feel that sense of inefficiency and redundancy when you are reading.  

When I book brief I still use my highlighting system that doesn’t change, but instead of writing each section of the brief out after I finish the case, I make small notes in the margin as a read. The nice thing about law school books is that most of the have a pretty decent margin size, so writing in the margins isn’t so bad. Warning though: I buy all of my casebook brand new, so I am the first person to write/highlight in them. I don’t know how conducive book briefing is to used books.

I haven’t had any issues with cold calls while book briefing nor have I felt under prepared. I would advise though that you only book brief classes that you feel the most comfortable. My second semester schedule includes: Legal Professions (Legal Ethics), Con Law, Crim Law, and Property this semester. I book brief for LP and Crim Law, but I would never book brief for Con Law because I find the subject matter too complicated. I will sometimes book brief property if I am crunched for time, but generally I prefer written briefs for property as well, because I like to make lots of notes about my own thoughts and be able to correct any incorrect analysis.

When you book brief it is extra important that you have good highlighters. I spent first semester working out which highlighters I liked the most, check that post out here. I now only use Mildliners because they WILL NOT soak through your page. No matter how thin and see through your page is (I’m looking at you Con Law). I think this is even more important with book briefing because you need to be able to quickly identify the important info marked. That is a little harder when you have highlighter ink soaking in everywhere. Also, even though Mildliners are more expensive than most highlighters, I have been using the same pack of 15 highlighters I bought from Walmart all year, so it really it’s too bad of an investment. 

Overall, I think book briefing is a really useful tool you should explore when you feel comfortable and able. Law school can be stressful, so help yourself out and find ways to be more efficient but remember not to sacrifice your own learning. 

What is your preferred method of briefing case? Let me know below!