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How to Brief a CaseBusiness law is not simply rules and regulations passed by federal and state organizations and legislatures. Business law also includes case law created when courts rule on various legal issues. Accordingly, being able to read and understand judicial opinions is critical to obtaining a robust understanding of business law. One method for understanding court cases and saving time is known as “briefing.” To brief a case, one must read the case thoroughly, taking in the main points, then write up a short synopsis ofthe case. A standard brief contains information from the case organized in the following manner: (1) case name and citation; (2) facts; (3) issue; (4) ruling; and (5) reasons. By organizing case information according to the five categories just listed, one can create a short guide to any case that contains all of the relevant information to aid in understanding the case, as well as create a tool for later references to the case without having to reread the case every time.The following is a quick description of what information is typically included in each of the five areas of a standard brief.1. Case name and citation. This information is used to identify the case. Under this heading the case name, the court making the decision, the year the decision was made, and the citations for the case should all be included.2. Facts. The facts section is used to provide the relevant background information from the case to facilitate a full understanding of what lead to the case. The facts section should include: (a) relevant background information; (b) the arguments made by the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s); (c) any decisions made by lower courts.3. Issue. The issue, or issues, is the question, or questions, the court has been asked to address in hearing the case. As such, the issue should be phrased as a question and should pertain to the legal matter at the heart of the case.4. Ruling. The ruling refers to how the court answered the question identified as the issue. A simple yes or no will NOT suffice to answer the issue question. You must answer your legal issue with a yes or no followed by a complete sentence to answer the question clearly. 5. Reasons. The reasons section elaborates upon why the court made the ruling that it did regarding the issue. To be helpful, the ruling section should contain what are the substantive legal reasons given for why the court ruled the way that it did.The following is an example of a case brief to demonstrate what is typically includedin a brief.
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