The term “legal analysis” is one that can be applied broadly across the entire legal spectrum, but it is basis is found in the concrete understanding that the application and use of law is based almost entirely on interpretation. Laws vary across the spectrum of criminal, civil, corporate, or political law, and vary within its many categories in complexity.
A law could be a simple as a sentence or as long as a book. On the other hand, laws are predicated on finding a consensus on how they are to be interpreted, and sometimes this calls for arguments to be made that support a particular interpretation, which is the process of legal argument. When a legal action has been undertaken by a party, it is based on an interpretation of the law, which has been reached at and supported by legal analysis.
The tools used to analyze the law, are as numerous as they are complex. Like any form of discourse, arguments are generally supported by existing arguments as much as they are by reading of written law. These existing arguments are called precedents, and they are usually based on decisions made upon existing court cases which involved interpretation and reinterpretation of the law as a means of establishing a means by which to render a decision.
In the case of the Supreme Court, their form of judicial review tries to determine whether an interpretation of a law brought before the Court can be interpreted under the United States Constitution. In the case of a law being found in violation of the Constitution or in support of it, the Court renders a decision supporting their finding. That decision then can be used as one form of precedent, though precedents can be established at all levels of the court, not only on the highest court, provided that a higher court has not already invalidated that decision.
Legal analysis does not only happen in terms that involve specific legal action (though it is these legal actions alone that can establish precedents), but also enters in legalistic discourse through academic means, which can also be cited to support legal arguments (though they carry significantly less weight than precedents). Generally, this form of legal analysis is called predictive analysis, since it is not based on a legal matter with which it plays a direct part, but are based on presenting hypothetical interpretations. When the matter of legal analysis is based specifically on an existing matter that requires the arguing of a legal point, this is called persuasive analysis.
Generally, the practice of law should be scene as the practice of argument, with legal analysis being seen as the means by which an argument is proposed, constructed, and supported either to