Case Prep

A former student currently in law school passes along this advice about reading and preparing cases for class:  “If I can pass any knowledge down to the current undergrads, I would push the 5-highlighter technique as although it seems a bit cumbersome at first, it makes case recall so much easier in class and actually makes book briefing efficient and effective.”  In other words (and he’ll correct me if I am wrong), employ highlighters of five different colors to mark the facts, issue, legal principles, analysis, and holding for each case.

I might even give this a try.  Thanks, TG.

4 Replies to “Case Prep”

  1. Jesse R.

    I know several people who use this method, and they carry 10 different highlighters with them at all times (while I silently judge them). It works for them, but I use letter codes on the margins of my textbooks instead, A for analysis, H for holding, P and D for the arguments of the plaintiff(s) or defendant(s), and so on.

  2. Tim Grimes

    Very close, and definitely adapt the scheme for whatever is most harped on per professor, but I use:

    Orange: Procedural History (on appeal, who is suing who, so forth and case holding)
    Green: Facts (most pertinent ones or your entire case will be colored)
    Blue: Issue
    Pink: Rule/Law/Statute etc…
    Yellow: Reasoning/Rationale

    So far so good. Thanks for the acknowledgment.


    • drandall Post author

      I spoke recently with a student who, after struggling somewhat with case analyses earlier in the semester, has zoomed up the learning curve in a remarkably short time. When asked what he is doing differently he credited the multi-highlighter approach. It helps him focus more closely on and understand the relationship between each component of an opinion, resulting in deeper understanding of the court's reasoning. He uses three colors, not five, to impressive results.

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