Briefing a Case

Skills in legal research

One of the fundamental skills in legal research is briefing a case. This technique is very helpful for highlighting the important facts of the case and also understanding how the courts apply the relevant laws to the facts of a case to come up with their rulings. When your briefing a case, you’re basically summarizing the case but you’re pulling out the most relevant information. There are many different ways to brief a case but the most popular way is the FIRAC method. This is a widely accepted method for briefing cases and it’s the method I used throughout law school. FIRAC stands for Facts, Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion. I’ll go through and discuss each step in the FIRAC method. The first case brief is due next week. Since for most, if not all of you this is your first attempt at briefing a case, this will not be graded as harshly as the others. Once you submit your briefs I will post an example of how a case should be briefed and also provide you with feedback so that you can understand how the other cases should be briefed.

The first letter in the FIRAC method stands for Issue.

Facts: These are the most important facts of the case; they should include the parties involved, what happened and how the case go to this point

Issue: This is the question presented for the court to answer. This will usually be a question about how the law is/was applied to the case and whether it was done correctly

Rule: This is the relevant rule of law that the court uses to answer the questions in the case

Analysis: In this section of the brief you will explain how the applied the law and reached its decision in the case

Conclusion: How the court answered the question in the issue and how the court ruled in the case

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