Case Briefs and Scary Professors

Life as a first year law school student involes A TON of case briefs! You will read a court case and effectively brief or summarize it in about a page or so. The brief requires a concise statement of facts relevent to the issue, the procedural history of the case, the issue that the Court is deciding, the holding/judgment of the Court on that issue, and the rationale by which it came to its Judgment.

Plaintiff’s are abbreviated as a “π” (Pi) symbol and defendants are the “Δ” (Delta) symbol for the sake of saving some space and using shorthand. Judgements are “J” and Holdings are “H”

Our first assignment, issued on Monday after the end of class and due by 9:15AM the following day (With hard copy to be turned in within the first five minutes of class) required that we brief our first case. We also had 3 chapters to read from one book and an additional 70-80 pages to read from our casebook. Naturally, this included cases in it, all of which we are apparently assumed to have briefed in preparation for class. We weren’t told to brief cases in our readings and all labored away at submitting the one brief that was the class assignment.

Today’s class went over some of the cases in our reading, and many students were “cold called” (Ie. The socratic method) into what they determined to be the facts of one case or the procedural history of another. Most were not prepared b/c even though they’d done the readings, they hadn’t briefed the case and couldn’t provide as concise an answer as the teacher required.

Oh mannnn did we get it after that. She was SO PISSED AT US. So for tonight’s homework, we’ve all been briefing away. I had 4 cases to brief that were due for yesterday afternoon’s class but weren’t uploaded until today by accident. So in case we use them, I should brief them. Then the readings for today were 4 chapters from one book and a section of a chapter from the casebook. This section has 4 cases, and I’m only up to briefing the 3rd one now. It’s already 12:30 and I want sleep!

Remember how a case brief was our first assignment? Well, our Professor’s rules on formatting are so harsh that you automatically failed if you messed up the margins, header fonts, formatting, spacing, etc. Beyond that, you get a check/check+/check-.We handed in this assignment online and in hard copy. We got back our grades before leaving for the day and the TF’s told us that 70% of the class received a grade of “unsatisfactory” meaning that it must be re-done.

YAY I received a “check” and it’s my mistake entirely for uploading a less-than-fully-proofread brief because it was aleady 2:30am and I wanted to sleep.  Today’s assignment was EASIER if there is such a word, and only involved determining the rule the Court established in a made up case, and then answering how the rule would apply to 10 hypothetical situations where 1-2 facts of the case were tweaked and what the Court might rule.

Wow I’ve only been in school for two days. That’s a lot of stuff andh onestly you guys might feel like you have no idea what I’m talking about, but yesterday morning I was as clueless as you all. Literally this only started Monday @ 1:30PM and I already have so much to share.about what going to law school feels like.

My teacher is really tough. If we were not made of the tough stuff we are, her abrasive questioning methods could have made some of us cry. As it is, she takes great pleasure in making students uncomfortable by making them think and reason through questions when they clearly have no idea what they’re talking about. She will do this while you squirm painfully and not let you go until 20 minutes later when you finally figure out the words she is looking for are res judicata. But you know what? We’re all learning, if not for the sheer fear she’s instilling in us that if we don’t do our readings, we will fail. At life. At law school. At everything.

Well I’ve got to get back to writing case briefs, but it was nice to vent over here & update because I know I’m going to be terrible at replying to text messages until I get the balance of things.


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