Case Briefing: The Four Step Process

Step One: Understand What Heading the Case Falls Under by Looking at the Casebook Table of Contents

    The reason you are to read cases in law school is because each case illustrates a point, or points of law that you are to learn.  Those points of law accumulate throughout the semester until they form a complete knowledge of the law regarding that topic.  So when you approach any case, what should be first and foremost in your mind is that you are looking for the point(s) of law the case is directed toward.  There is no other reason to read a case. 
    To direct yourself to the area of law the case is illustrating, go to the table of contents at the front of the casebook.  Since you don't have the Torts casebook in front of you, I'll be guiding you through the format.  Without knowing what point(s) of law the case is directed towards, you would be in a quandary.  Without a point of reference, you might think the Farwell case is a case about the role of Judge and Jury because of the discussions relating to those topics.  Or, you might think the case represents an illustration of dissenting opinions.  Or, maybe it’s a case on the concept of wrongful death. 
    But one glance at the table of contents at the front of the Torts casebook would show you that this case is to illustrate The Duty Requirement for Physical Injuries, and more specifically, Obligation to Others.  Further, you would note that this case is one of three under those headings. That's helpful, since you know that this category of law entails more elaboration than only one case can carry.
    A look at the chapter heading would tell you that the concepts of Duty Requirement and Obligation to Others fall under Negligence.
    Understanding the point(s) of law the professor intends to be culled from a particular case allows you to operate more efficiently and saves time.