When and How to Use Legal Precedent in Legal Practice

Legal precedent plays an essential part in legal practice. Lawyers use legal precedent to make arguments and support their positions in court cases. Understanding when and how to use legal precedent is crucial to navigating the complex world of law.

When to Use Legal Precedent:

Legal precedent should be used when trying to convince a judge of the validity of a legal argument. When a lawyer cites relevant legal precedent and demonstrates how it is applicable to the case, it can add weight to their argument and increase the likelihood of a favorable ruling.

Legal precedent should be used when the facts of a case are similar to a previous court case. Utilizing previous court decisions can help establish a clear direction of the law and provide guidance for future decisions. If the facts of a case are not similar to any previous legal decisions, it is essential to be cautious because the legal precedent may not be as helpful or applicable.

How to Use Legal Precedent:

When using legal precedent, it is important to make sure that the previous decisions are still valid and reflect the most current law. Legal decisions may be overturned or may become outdated if there are advancements in the law.

It is also important to distinguish and analyze the legal issues present in the case being argued to identify which legal precedent will be most helpful. By understanding and applying the correct legal precedent, it is possible to set up a stronger argument that will likely gain the court’s favor.

Another important aspect of using legal precedent is to distinguish the facts of the case at hand from those of the previous case being referenced. It is possible for two cases to have similar facts, but the legal issues facing the cases could be different.


In conclusion, legal precedent is a crucial aspect of legal practice and should be used carefully and appropriately. It is important to use legal precedent when trying to establish relevant and significant arguments for a case. To be effective, legal precedent should be closely analyzed and applied appropriately to ensure that it supports the case being presented. When used correctly, legal precedent can be a powerful tool in supporting legal arguments and achieving a favorable ruling.