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Reading, Highlighting and Making Case Briefs

I feel really bad for whoever gets my textbooks next year since 50% of the words in the cases are highlighted. Highlighting helps me keep track of what I'm reading, and know what I'm looking for when I go back and make a case brief or review the case. Since I highlight so much of the book, using one color would be useless to bring my attention to important information. I've created a color coordinated method of highlighting so I know exactly what the highlighted information is.

Case name--I put red brackets around the case I'm reading and also underline any other cases referenced in the text.

Factual story--Sometimes there's two sentences as facts of the case, sometime's there's a full page. I use a pink pen to underline or point to the most important facts.

Procedural story--Is this an appeal? Who was the previous judgement for? I underline this information in orange pens.

Issue--The issue is one sentence stating what the entire case is about. The issue is whether or not defendant breached the contract, whether or not the assumption of risk doctrine applies, etc.

Arguments--What each side argues.

Holding--Which way the court rules. The holding is an answer to the question posed in the issue.

Rules--The laws or statues that are relevant to the case.

Reasoning--Why the court rules the way it does; why the laws apply in this case or why they do not.

Dicta--Anything else included that isn't relevant to the courts decision. I also use yellow for the pages that aren't court cases, but important background information.

After I've read and highlighted the case, I go back and put the information in a case brief. A case brief is basically a summary of the important aspects of the case listed above, so I can go back and reference it without having to reread the case.

I keep a blank case brief saved in my computer so I don't have to set up the formatting each time. I open the blank case brief template, fill it out, then save it under the case name. Here's my case brief template, feel free to use it!

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