Reports add texture, reality and detail to a topic when they include a mini-profile of a company that has dealt with it. These vignettes are “case studies,” and one might think of them as extended quotations.
Here are some other characteristics of case studies that we have observed from our collection of law-firm research surveys.
- By means of layout, color, location, and design, reports with case studies prominently feature them.
- We suspect there is jockeying and firm politics behind the decision of which client (and therefore which lead partner) will be rewarded with the publicity of a case study.
- Even more than quotations, case studies require careful vetting and approval by the client.
- Case studies typically take the better part of a page, but rarely more than that.
- Reports rarely have more than one or two case studies, and most do not have any.
- The longer the report, the more likely it includes at least one case study.
What design characteristics mark case studies? The image below captures the top portion of the full-page case study. Allen Overy Models 2014 [pg. 11] prominently announces in large, red font that this is a case study and then presents a three-column discussion about the Deutsche Bank legal function. Later, the report includes a second case study that it handles in a similar style.
The following slice from Pinsent Mason Infratech 2017 [pg. 13] presents a case study that stands out because of its background, which matches the color scheme of the chapter. Also, a z-shaped green line artistically divides the landscape page, sort of like a diagonal from the top left, over and down. It is visible here only in the downward portion as the vertical segment on the left.
The case study starts with a few words of background about the company, Costain. The firm chose to organize its case study, which it labels as “INSIGHTS”, around a question-and-answer format and extends the layout to the right edge of the page.
We have not included an image from Paul Hastings China 2013 [pg. 16] because the snippet would need to be too big. The firm devotes two pages to the largest Chinese acquisition of a U.S. company. Vertically along the left, a a text box announces “Paul Hastings Case Study.”