Tag Archives: briefs

Boxes or Briefs?

Now that I perhaps have your attention, I’d like to announce the following:

I can brief a case.

(Maybe it DID take me the entire first half of my first semester to get a system down. Better late than never, with “never” in the mind of a law student being a day as equivalently futile as “the day of the final exam.”)

I’ve tried out both boxes and briefs. I’ve judged the merits of both:

“Boxes” – A template/chart.  You insert your case information into this each and every time. Boxes are spatially flexible (it’s magical how the box expands the more you write!) and aesthetically pleasing. It’s a classic “brief,” but in chart form.

“Briefs” – Looks like any word document. Bullet points tend to be present. Many bullet points. Advantage is greater flexibility in what you write. (Ex: In some cases, you may not want to note more than just the facts and holding.) Some people seem to write small novels, which I guess makes up for the people who take no notes at all while reading cases. Personally, I’m not confident enough in my memory to be in the no-note camp.

Verdict: A compromise. I use a box format overall, and the occasional bullet points of prose-intensive briefs. If I don’t have a chart, I will write too damn much. If I don’t have some bullet points, I have to sift through a paragraph of facts when I’m cold-called on, rather than glancing at neater, separate lines.

But Becca’s boxy briefs aren’t just any boxy briefs. Comic relief is provided in the form of quirky pictures that correspond with the facts of the particular case.  The two minutes I spend on Google finding just the right photo to insert in my notes is sometimes the most fun I have all day. (I have no shame in admitting this. Any 1L would understand.)

Are the pictures oversimplified, not representing all the nuanced merits of the case? YES. Am I bothered by that? NO. Because will these pictures help me remember the cases/names of cases? YES!

Behold, a nerdy sample:


In case you’re curious (which you probably are not), this is a case in which a woman pursuing a political career sued the state Democratic Party on the basis that she was promised a job which she was then later denied. She was awarded damages under promissory estoppel by the trial court, and the Alaska Democratic Party appealed the case, specifically arguing that the alleged contract for employment was barred by the statute of frauds.


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October 20, 2012 · 5:39 pm