GUEST BLOG Harrison Thorne,
2L at UCLA School of Law
When I first started law school, reading cases took FOREVER!
It still takes me a while to get through reading assignments. But when I do the reading, I really try to get the most out of it.
My method is a bit different—I think—than others’.
First, I look up the section or topic that the case pertains to. For instance, if I’m reading Marbury v. Madison, I know my teacher assigned the case to show judicial review, and teach about Supremacy, etc.
Next, I read a case brief. Case briefs can be found online or in various case brief books.
I then read the case. By this point, I know the facts, the background, and the black-letter law. I have found that knowing all these things before reading the case allows me to focus in on the big picture and extract the real case holding. If I just read the case without reading secondary sources and/or briefs beforehand, I find that my initial read-through is mostly a way to understand the facts, and then I have to reread it at least one more time.
While reading the case, I like to highlight important passages, etc.
After all that, I go back over the highlighted portions, and take notes. I jot down the facts, too.
After all that, I then do an “overview” of what I think is important.
When I go to class, I have a much better understanding of the case, and I supplement my notes with anything my professor emphasizes.