Before I first started law school (pre-LSAT period) I did a ton of research on the life of a law student. One of the things I ran across was the debate on whether students actually need to do all that reading for class. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? If you want to learn, you need to read.
In law school, professors like to use the Socratic Method. You can Google how Socrates and his band of scholars learned about all the deep, meaningful things Socrates talked about. But for law school, it basically means your professor will cold-call on you in class about, you guessed it, THE READINGS.
Going back to whether one should read for class: It all depends on your professor.
In my law school experience, thus far, I need to read for classes. They WILL call on you. The professor may want something simple, like the facts of the case. Some may want the issue statement only. Oh, and the professors who want to know what the dissent said. NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE DISSENT, SO NO ONE EVER READS IT!
No seriously. When you have a case that is 6-7 pages long and you get the holding of the court, you DO NOT want to read the damn dissent!
Again, each professor wants something different. Some professors will want you to brief the entire case. Those professors provide you with their preferred format for briefing.
Here is an example of what one of my current professors wants when she asks you to brief a case:
- Objectives of the Parties
- Theories of the Litigation
- History of the Litigation
- Key Facts
- Holding (s)
- Concurring Opinions
- Dissenting Opinions
Another professor (who actually asked harder questions after you briefed the case) only required this for the briefing:
- Procedural History
- Essential Facts
If you did not read, and you’re called on, what do you think will happen to your soul?