At the (new) legal writer, Raymond Ward has a useful post called "Owning your downloaded legal authorities," in which he describes his own personal system for reading and annotating case law after downloading it into a word processing program.
A few of Ward's tips:
- "Use Word or WordPerfect to highlight the parts that are most important."
- "Instead of writing in the margins of a hard copy, use Word or WordPerfect to insert comments. That way, your comments will be saved on your electronic copy."
- "Edit the document header to add all information needed to cite the case. This will later save you the trouble of printing an entire 24-page case when you only need one page with one juicy quotation."
As an old-fashioned lawyer who prints off cases and writes on them with a pen -- and then promptly loses the cases, the notes, and the pen -- I am going to switch to Ward's method. But you've got to read Ward's entire post for all his tips, so be sure to follow my link.