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How to write a case analysis

Updated March 16, 2017

Business management courses and law school courses use the "case method" to teach students key concepts. The case method tests a student's issue-spotting skills and forces a student to analyse facts and rules in order to make a conclusion which, whether right or wrong, should at least be reasoned and thought-out. Students write a case analysis in order to demonstrate their issue-spotting and reasoning skills. A case analysis varies depending on whether it is written in the business context or the legal context.

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  1. Write what the issue ("I") of the case is. Start generally to help you pin down the more narrow issues. For example, if the case you are reading involves a contract, then the general issue is contract law. From there, you can pin down whether the "point" of the case was a breach of contract issue, a damages question (how to calculate the amount a party is owed) or some other contract law issue.

  2. Describe the rule ("R") of law the court applied in the case. As you read the case, the court will discuss the law that applies. Typically, the court will cite a statute or another case for the rule of law. Look for these cues and write the rule of law out in your own words.

  3. Analyse ("A") the facts (from the issue of the case) and the rule of law. This section displays your reasoning skills. Break the parts of the law down into manageable pieces and write a fact that applies or does not apply to that part of the law. For example, for a valid contract, there must be 1) an offer, 2) acceptance of the offer and 3) "consideration" (a legal term to mean that the parties are giving and getting something out of the contract). Write out each part and write the facts that fit next to the law; note where the facts do not apply.

  4. Arrive at a conclusion ("C"). Based on your analysis, you should be able to come to a conclusion. In the example in step 3, if the facts did not show acceptance of the offer, then a valid contract cannot exist even if an offer and consideration are present. Likewise, if facts support each part of the law, you can conclude that a valid contract exists.

  5. Discuss the firm's business strategy and identify key points that are strengths, weaknesses or other issues with that strategy.

  6. Describe the rules associated with profit margins, rates of return and other financial data. The purpose of a business is to make money. A case analysis in the business context must discuss whether the firm's strategies (identified in step 1) fit or do not fit with financial ratios.

  7. Evaluate the firm's strategies against the financial ratios and rules. Explain whether the firm's strategies are working based on the rules discussed in step 2. Support each point you make with the facts involved in each case and the rules that apply to those facts.

  8. Make recommendations based on your analysis. Offer your reasoned opinion about how the business is doing and about what you believe the business should do. If you decide that, based on the rules and the business strategy, the business is losing money, explain what you think the business needs to do to increase its profit margin.

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About the Author

Based in Traverse City, Mich., George Lawrence has been writing professionally since 2009. His work primarily appears on various websites. An avid outdoorsman, Lawrence holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in both criminal justice and English from Michigan State University, as well as a Juris Doctor from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, where he graduated with honors.

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