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

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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!