Understanding Legal Analysis


Legal analysis is an essential skill for lawyers, self-represented litigants, law students, or anyone involved in a situation where legal reasoning is required. Doing a legal analysis involves laying out all the facts of the situation, determining the legal issues presented from those facts, researching and finding the law that governs those legal issues, and objectively evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of a case from the perspective of either party.


Here's a look at what legal analysis entails, its basic components, and how to perform a legal analysis effectively.


What is a Legal Analysis?


Legal analysis is the process of applying legal rules to a set of facts to reach a conclusion about a legal issue. It is the backbone of legal reasoning and a fundamental part of legal practice. Through legal analysis, attorneys and/or litigants build their arguments, and ultimately predict how a court may rule on their issues.


Basic Components of Legal Analysis


Legal analysis typically involves several key components:


   • Identifying the Relevant Facts


This involves distinguishing between facts that are legally significant and those that are not. Relevant facts are those that have a consequential impact on the application of legal rules.


   • Determining the Governing Law


This involves determining which statutes, regulations, case law, and/or legal principles apply to a particular situation.


   • Applying the Law to the Facts


Once the relevant facts and governing law are established, the next step is to analyze how the law applies to those facts.


   • Drawing a Conclusion


The final step is to synthesize the information and draw a logical conclusion. This may include a prediction of how a court would rule on the matter, then determining a sensible course of action.


How to Do a Legal Analysis


Performing a legal analysis is an important skill that may be developed with practice. Here are the steps typically involved:


   • Gather All Relevant Information


This involves collecting all necessary facts, evidence, and legal sources that will impact the analysis. It's essential to be thorough and consider all possible angles.


   • Issue Spotting


Legal issues must be identified before they can be analyzed. This requires a careful understanding of the facts and a general understanding of the law in order to spot potential legal issues.


   • Research


Comprehensive legal research is necessary to find relevant statutes, regulations, and case law that will inform the analysis.


   • Analysis


Apply the IRAC method (Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion) or a similar framework to structure the legal analysis. For each issue identified:


  • State the Issue clearly
  • Articulate the Rule(s) of law that govern
  • Conduct an Analysis by applying the rule(s) to the facts
  • Provide a Conclusion as to how the issue would likely be resolved


   • Writing


Present the analysis in a clear, organized, and persuasive manner.


   • Review and Revise


Review and revision are part of producing a strong legal analysis. This may involve seeking outside help and/or revisiting the detailed timeline of facts and/or revisiting the legal research done to ensure that no aspect was overlooked.




Legal analysis is both an art and a science, requiring legal knowledge, logical reasoning, common sense, and a bit of creativity. A well-performed legal analysis clarifies complex legal issues, guides decision-making, and provides the basis for a strong legal argument. As with any skill, proficiency in legal analysis comes with practice and patience.


The Self Rep Edge program, through the Self Rep Edge Video Series and Civil Litigation Workbook, provides a foundation of legal knowledge, which includes an understanding of the nuts and bolts of the civil litigation process and how to do a legal analysis.