How to Read a Legal Opinion

by   |  08.11.19  |  Free Speech

In this episode …Professor Orin Kerr, Professor of Law, Berkeley Law School, explains how to read a legal opinion.  The episode is an exploration of Prof. Kerr’s essential article, How To Read A Legal Opinion: A Guide For New Law Students, 11 Greenbag 2d 51 (2007).  Professor Kerr discusses the parts of a brief, what aspects of a case matter to a law professor and emphasizes the need for learning the new language of the law.  He acknowledges his own struggles with case law reading when he began law school (we both do), and encourages students to recognize the learning curve involved in reading a judicial opinion. Some key takeaways are…1. There is not necessarily a right answer in law school, so don’t look for a “right answer” in a case.2. Facts matter, particularly the facts of a case that are relevant to the court’s reasoning.3. Pay attention to a court’s reasoning and don’t discount the dissent.4. Reading cases isn’t easy; we have all struggled with the experience!About our guest…Professor Orin Kerr joined the Berkeley Law faculty in 2019 after serving as the Frances R. and John J. Duggan Distinguished Professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. From 2001 to 2017, he was a professor at the George Washington University Law School. Kerr has previously been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania. An accomplished teacher, Kerr received the outstanding teaching award from the George Washington Law School Class of 2009.Kerr specializes in criminal procedure and computer crime law, and he has also taught courses in criminal law, evidence, and professional responsibility. He has written more than 60 law review articles, over 40 of which have been cited in judicial opinions (including seven articles that have been cited in U.S. Supreme Court opinions). His scholarship also has been cited by more than 3,000 academic articles. In addition to writing law review articles, Kerr has authored popular casebooks, co-authored the leading criminal procedure treatise, and published countless blog posts at popular blogs such as the Volokh Conspiracy and Lawfare.Want to know more about Professor Kerr?  You can visit the link below: follow Professor Kerr on Twitter @orinkerr As always, if you have any suggestions for an episode topic, please let us know! You can email us at or tweet to @lawtofact. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@lawtofact) and to like us on FaceBook! And finally, your ratings and reviews matter! Please leave us a review on iTunes.Want to stay updated on all things Law to Fact? Join our mailing list by visiting us at

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