Tips for obtaining case studies

Topical

Choose a case that either is typical of your clinic’s work, or that demonstrates a current policy issue

For instance, at present we are particularly interested in cases that touch on the online court system, litigants in person and access to rights, public services, legal aid and redress.

What is a case study used for?

When you ask a client for permission to use their story, explain to them the purposes for which that the case study will be used and how this will help the clinic, LawWorks and other people like them, in the future.

For instance, this will help the clinic to raise money; this will help us to change the law so that this doesn’t happen in the future, etc.  

Anonymous

Make sure that the client knows that their name will not be used and that they will be able to make changes to any final copy of it before it is used.

Let the client know that their story may be used on the clinic website, the LawWorks website, in LawWorks’ policy work and in newsletters etc.

What happened?

Ask the client to tell you their story in their own words. Here’s an example set of case study questions:

  • Tell me about your legal problem
  • What led to these legal problems?
  • How did [your clinic] help?
  • What difference did the help make?
  • What might have happened if the client hadn’t received that advice?

Don’t be afraid to leave silences – sometimes the most useful detail comes after some reflection. Sometimes people also need some prompting – here are some useful prompt questions:

  • What was that like?
  • Can you tell me some more about that?
  • What led to that decision?
  • Can you give me an example?
  • What happened next?
  • How did that feel?

Try to record any interesting small details about the story or the client’s situation that make the story unique and bring the events to life.

If it’s appropriate, ask how the client felt at crucial moments in their story. Allow people time to respond and make it clear that they don’t have to answer. For instance;

  • If it’s ok, could you tell me how that felt?
  • What was that like for you?

Impact

Ask about what difference the legal advice from the clinic has made to the client (and what would have happened to them if they hadn’t received that advice).

Speak with the lawyer

Ask about the lawyer who gave the advice or about the clinic generally. Check the basic story with the lawyer who was involved in case there are any gaps

Drafting the case study

Draft the case study (approx. 400 words) and send it to both the lawyer and the client for their approval.  We often use the real name of the lawyer and their firm (which also might want to use it for their CSR publicity).  Ask the client to confirm in writing their permission for all relevant organisations to use it and ask if they will allow a member of the LawWorks staff to contact them directly, if necessary, for any follow up.

Imagery

We don’t use photos of the clients themselves, but other images can really help to bring a case study to life. Please include photos where you can of images you might associate with the client’s situation, or the support they were given. For instance:

  • a pile of letters
  • the lawyer involved
  • people talking at the clinic (without showing their faces)
  • detail such as someone’s hands holding a pen, or a cup of tea

Submitting a case study

You can submit your case study, together with any attachments using our case study form.

If you have any questions, or would like to know more about how we use case studies please contact: