Brief Case

| March 29, 2020

 In the legal field, lawyers and paralegals are often asked to “brief” a case – in other words, break down a judicial opinion into a readily usable, easily understandable format. For extra credit, I would like you to brief a case for me. When briefing a case, people use many different methods, but the most common format is described as “IRAC” or “Issue-Rule-Analysis/Application-Conclusion” which breaks down into the following sections: Facts: Before getting to the meat of the IRAC method, you must write a quick statement of the key facts. The Court will always have a section in its opinion that states the facts significant and relevant to the issue at hand. If you are explaining the case to your boss, s/he will want to know key facts because that will impact whether the case has relevant to their client. Remember – you want it to be a quick overview – bulleted/abbreviated statements are good! Procedural History: You also want to describe the procedural history—which court decided the case (for example, is the decision issued by a trial court, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, or the U.S. Supreme Court)? This helps understand the impact and applicability of the decision. You also use this section to state how the case got to the court issuing the opinion (did it start off in a particular trial court? If so, which one? Did the plaintiff or defendant appeal?) Issue: What is the legal issue in the case that is to be decided by the Court? In other words, what is the question presented to the Court? Some courts make it easy for you and frame the issue as a question that is to be resolved by the Court. Typically, when stating the issue, you want to include specific facts and specific laws (i.e., Does X constitute Y under the law? Does X fall within the protection of the Y statute?) When writing the issue in a brief, it’s okay to frame it as a question. Rule: Here, you state the relevant rule(s) of law relied upon by the Court in issuing its decision. This could be a statute or prior decisions issued by the courts. Analysis: How did the court apply the rule(s) of law to the facts at hand? This is often the longest section of your brief, although it’s still acceptable to use bulleted thoughts. Conclusion: What is the final outcome or holding of the case? Again, the Court may make it easy for you and state – We/I hold that… That’s your conclusion right there! **** In order to properly brief a case, you must read it more than once. I recommend reading it once for content and overall understanding of the facts and law at issue and a second time to brief the key facts, procedural history, issue, rule of law, application of the rule to the facts, and the conclusion. For extra credit, please brief the case, Adoption of a Minor, 417 Mass. 373 (2015), available here: http://masscases.com/cases/sjc/471/471mass373.html. I’ve also attached a PDF of the case to the extra credit materials. Please turn in your case brief to me via Mail by FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 2020 AT 11:59 p.m., using the format attached below (I’ll also provide you with a Word version of the format). I will add up to 6 extra points to your lowest exam score depending on the quality of the brief you submit to me. Remember: It’s okay to use bullets when briefing a case. You do not want lengthy paragraphs – the key is to provide a snapshot of the case to your supervisor (or professor) so s/he can grasp the significance of the case without reading it him/herself. KEY: A case brief should NOT be more than 1-2 pages maximum!! 

 Case Name: Adoption of a Minor, 417 Mass. 373 (2015) 

Facts: Procedural History: Issue: Rule: Analysis: Conclusion

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