March 26, 2024

Case Briefing for Visual Learners

In law school the “highlighted books” typically belonged to those who “book brief”, and each color helps the reader find facts, rule/takeaway, issue, etc., at a glance, and if you knew the color key you were golden.

When I first started case briefing, I struggled until I found a method that worked for me- I began using different color highlighters for different things that I look for in cases.

This was particularly helpful for when the professor called on me to ask the facts of the case, then I knew to look for yellow highlighted area. If asked what rule(s) of law was applied, then I look for orange. If they ask for the holding of the case, then I looked for pink. If they ask me what the issue(s) of the case was, then I look for blue… and so on.

For those who prefer going paperless, WestLaw and Lexis now allow you to do digitally markups. Either way, create a color code that works best for you and case briefing will never be the same.

Below is a color key shared with us by our friendly Brief Writing Ninja Chris Schandevel:

Yellow = key facts, events, background, lower-court decision and reasoning

Orange = key legal reasoning of this Court

Pink = holdings

Green = “money” lines that are the most useful to my argument and the most likely to go in my brief

Gray = bad-for-me lines that most undermine the arguments I want to make.

Chris Schandevel, thank you for always being so generous in sharing your knowledge here on LinkedIn. Image shared by Chris Schandevel also.

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