How to remember and write Case names?

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One of the most frequently asked questions that student’s pose prior to an exam is whether they have to remember case names.

Our answer to whether you should cite case names is both yes and no. Accurately citing cases and describing their holdings is unlikely to hurt you, provided that the cases are relevant to the problem at hand.

Moreover, citing cases correctly can often be useful shorthand to communicate to the evaluer that you are familiar with relevant law. Above all, case citation is not an acceptable substitute for analysis.

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You are ordinarily not expected to recall case names in an exam. You would have to be a memory expert to have all of them at your fingertips. If you confront a factual situation similar to a case which you have reviewed (but cannot recall the name of it), just state something like “One case has held that………………..” or “It has been held that……………..” on your exam paper. In this manner, you have adequately informed the evaluer that you recall reading a case which contained a fact pattern similar to the question (problem) under scrutiny.

Exception:

The only exception to the above rule is where the decision involved is truly a landmark decision. Such opinions are usually those which change or alter theretofore established law. These cases are usually easy to identify, since you will have probably spent time discussing them.

In these extraordinary instances, you might be expected to remember that case by name and the proposition of law which the decision illustrated.

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However, this situation represents a very limited exception to the general rule which counsels against wasting precious time trying to memorize case names.

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