Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Westlaw Briefing

What do you think the ethical considerations are for getting your case briefs directly from Westlaw? I read the assigned reading, but I find myself reading the Westlaw brief too to remind myself of the important points of law.

I don't think this is like reading Sparknotes instead of Hamlet in high school because Sparknotes is easier. If I've already done the reading, reading a supplement isn't cheating. What say you?


Anonymous said...

Never quite managed to understand why reading the Sparknote version would be "cheating" either. It's certainly might be lazy, and probably unwise, but there's no moral connotation to it.

Somehow I suspect not reading cases or Shakespeare in full has it's own eventual consequences. If it doesn't then either the tests are poorly designed or there really wasn't that much cause to read the full version in the first place.

Anonymous said...

The value in preparing your own briefs (and case outlines) cannot be overstated. You learn and retain more as you think through and analyze the important and relevant issues while you are preparing your briefs.

Anonymous said...

I'll echo what 2:34 says. Commercial study aids are more than helpful when it comes to learning black letter law. That said, it's my opinion that they are also the worst thing to happen to legal education since its birth. Carefully reading cases, and developing your own thoughts as to the significance, is necessary to developing the analytical ability needed to extrapolate the law and its underlying foundation.

But such an idealistic approach is generally too costly (tribute to Buckley), as those with whom you compete inevitably use supplements (which now seem to replace rather than actually supplement). The end result: law students fail to under-develop the ability to analyze, in favor of increasing their abilities to memorize and regurgitate. I understand. After all, competition--especially at some schools--more than justifies it.

Legally Fabulous said...

There is absolutely not a thing wrong with Westlaw briefs, especially if you've already read the material. And I think that even if you haven't had time to read the casebook, the Westlaw brief is better than nothing.

If my choices are to read the Westlaw brief and sort of know what's going on in class vs. not having a clue what's going on, obviously reading the Westlaw brief is better.

Anonymous said...

I believe you are referring to the "Brief It!" feature on Westlaw. Law professors are on to it, and that's why they tend not to ask students only for the basic facts and holdings of cases.