Reading cases to analyze and brief them

In the process of doing legal research, the paralegal must, on occasion, analyze cases.  It is not easy to analyze a case if you don’t have experience, but the following are some of the things to consider in your analysis and in the process of taking notes on the case as you read it:

  • Case name
  • Official citation
  • Parallel (unofficial) citations
  • Key numbers and headnotes if using the West Reporter system
  • What is/are the legal questions presented (issues)?
  • What is the law (precedent) that the court is applying?
  • Is the court following the law?
  • Is the court distinguishing the case  from the existing law?
  • Is the court changing the law?
  • What is the court’s analysis (rationale)?  How did the court support its decision?
  • What is the result in the case?  Affirmed, Remanded, Reversed?
  • Is there a dissenting or concurring opinion?
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