The Psychology Behind Case Briefing: A Powerful Cognitive Schema

Campbell Law Review, Vol. 29, No. 1, p. 5, 2006

TJSL Legal Studies Research Paper No. 893902

24 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2006 Last revised: 2 Oct 2008

Date Written: March 28, 2006


The purpose of this article is to provide a better understanding of how law students learn in the context of case analysis. As new students approach case analysis for the first time, the case brief is an effective "schema" to provide students with a framework within which to analyze a legal opinion. Case briefing does more than simply allow students to pull out the holding of a case. It helps beginning students organize a legal opinion's analytical framework accurately and efficiently. The more students learn about the world of law, the better their analysis of cases becomes. Although some can argue that most good lawyers had to struggle in law school and that this struggle is emblematic of good learning, the research says otherwise. In any context of learning, and particularly in law school, it is the legal educator's job to make the hidden aspects of learning apparent. By understanding the cognitive processes behind case analysis, we can unmask the cognitive mysteries of how we learn the law.

Keywords: Legal education, legal writing, case analysis

Suggested Citation

Christensen, Leah M., The Psychology Behind Case Briefing: A Powerful Cognitive Schema (March 28, 2006). TJSL Legal Studies Research Paper No. 893902; TJSL Legal Studies Research Paper No. 893902. Available at SSRN:

Leah M. Christensen (Contact Author)

Thomas Jefferson School of Law ( email )

701 B Street
Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
619-961-4264 (Phone)


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