Bergman, Goodman, and Holm's Cracking the Case Method, Legal Analysis for Law School Success, 3d

West Academic Publishing
Primary Subject
Academic Success
Academic and Career Success Series
Publication Date
Softbound - New, softbound print book.


For about 150 years, law schools have relied on the Case Method to teach the skills and art of legal analysis to first-year law students. Yet many first-year students struggle academically. They do not struggle because they lack intellectual ability. Instead, they struggle because they are suddenly immersed in a unique and seemingly opaque educational process where nobody has concretely explained what they should try to learn, much less how to learn it. So these students are forced to try to understand their professors’ teaching methods on their own—a difficult task for many beginning students, even those who may “get it” but cannot articulate what “it” is.

So students understandably ask fundamental questions like the following. Why do reading assignments consist of appellate court opinions? Why do professors rely on the Socratic Method? Why do law school classes so often leave students with more questions than answers? Why do professors’ teaching methods differ from their assessment methods and how can students bridge that gap? What do instructors look for when they grade essay exam answers? Why can law students believe they knew “all the rules,” yet get poor grades?

Cracking the Case Method, 3d ed., provides concise and accessible instruction on how to succeed in law school by answering these questions—and many others. Students need to know what to study and how the opinions they read and discuss in class relate to law school exams. This book provides an in-depth examination of these critical topics:
  • The Case Method: 1) how it relates to Socratic-style questioning, and 2) how it helps develop analytical skills.
  • Semester-long strategies for learning how to “think like a lawyer” by getting the most out of reading judicial opinions, attending classes, outlining, and preparing for exams.
  • An analytical framework that helps students read appellate court cases to focus on legal issues, legal principles, and judges’ reasons for adopting and applying those principles.
  • Twenty examples that illustrate this analytical framework; these examples discuss essential legal principles from first-year courses and use judicial opinions often assigned in these courses.
  • How to develop case briefs and use them to prepare for class discussions, outlining, and exams—with illustrations drawn from two sample annotated briefs.
  • The major types of legal argument—with many illustrations drawn from actual cases.
  • How to use class discussions to practice legal analysis, demonstrated with annotated excerpts from actual first-year class discussions.
  • How to prepare for exams with the following learning and study tools: 1) developing traditional or visual outlines of course materials; 2) analyzing hypotheticals; 3) creating checklists and flowcharts; and 4) practicing exam-taking skills.
  • An approach for analyzing exam questions and writing effective exam answers that display powerful analytical skills—with illustrations drawn from actual essay exam questions and annotated answers.
  • An opportunity for students to practice all the learning, writing, and analytical skills discussed in this book to a new case in a sample torts class, including the following skills: 1) reading the case; 2) briefing the case; 3) discussing the case in class; 4) incorporating the principles from the case into an outline; and 5) answering an exam question related to the case.

This book provides indispensable information to people considering law school, preparing for their 1L year, or currently attending law school.