My case-reading strategy (that saves time!)

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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.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 9.08.53 AMMy first step is to consult a secondary source. I love BARBRI’s outlines, as they are concise and allow me to understand the black-letter law. Sometimes I use E+Es or other secondary sources.

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 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.

Click here to learn more about law school case briefs. 

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