Using PowerNotes to Research, Draft, and Argue the 1L Brief


By Molly Griffard, NYU Law Class of 2019


For many first year law students, the much anticipated (dreaded?) 1L brief assignment can cause a lot of stress. Whether you’re playing the role of a public defender, prosecutor, zealous civil rights attorney, or something else entirely, PowerNotes has you covered.

I first used PowerNotes while researching my 1L brief and was immediately hooked! Previously, my notes were scattered. I kept some notes and ideas in Google Docs and my notebook. I tried to remember to save cases in folders in various legal databases, but I would inevitably forget to save them or have trouble recalling which case I needed for different parts of my argument. Then came PowerNotes, and voila! My research was transformed from a mess to a beautiful, easy-to-use, organized outline!

PowerNotes saved me time and helped me construct a strong, organized argument. At first, I organized my project by research question, since my assignment had both a constitutional and statutory question. As I got further along in the research and learned about the various factors courts considered for each of the questions, I subdivided my topics to get more specific. This helped me outline each section of my brief. When I went to write the brief, I had the most relevant case law at my fingertips for each of my point headers.

When I argued the case before an experienced attorney off campus, the attorney told my professor that she was surprised that I was a 1L because my brief was so well-organized! She was also impressed with my ability to recall specific facts from cases while on my feet during the oral argument.

In preparation for the oral argument assignment, I used PowerNotes to highlight and grab the facts, issue, and holding of each case cited in my brief and my opponent’s brief. I downloaded it into a word document and printed it for my oral argument binder. I reviewed my PowerNotes case notes leading up the oral argument so I would be able to easily analogize my case to binding and persuasive precedent. I felt confident knowing that I could answer questions about any of the cases cited in both briefs. When my opposing counsel overstated the similarities between one of her cited cases and the case at hand, I was able to use my PowerNotes case notes to directly respond in my rebuttal. Without the notes, I would have known she was misrepresenting her cited case, but with my PowerNotes case notes in front of me, I was able to directly quote from the case! I was able to show the court that the two cases were different and that the court should rule in my favor.  

Since 1L, I have continued to use PowerNotes for researching and drafting research memos for internships, motions for clinic, and now, I am using PowerNotes as I research and write my Note. Thanks to PowerNotes, my days of scattered, messy research notes and lost sources are long gone!