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Scholarly Writing: Finding a Topic

This LibGuide is designed to help students write an Upper Level Writing paper or note that is suitable for publication in a law review.

Law-related databases & websites

Preemption check

Once you've chosen a topic be sure to review legal literature for a preemption check to be sure that another legal scholar has not already thoroughly covered your topic.

Sources to search for preemption: (1) Legal Periodicals, (2) American Law Reports (ALR), (3) Treatises, hornbooks, and practice manuals, (4) Legal Encyclopedias, (5) Current casebooks,  (6) Working papers in SSRN, (7) Blogs & websites, (8) Restatements & model codes

Current Cases

Finding conflicting opinions within a state, among states, between federal circuit courts or between different countries often provides a good starting point for choosing a paper topic.  

A federal case search in Westlaw or Lexis for "split w/5 circuits" will provide some example cases.  Other strategies include exploring dissenting opinions or certiorari petitions or cases of first impression to find unsettled areas of the law. Try a case law search of "first impression" to find relevant state or federal cases.  

Law Firm Memos

Law firms or professional associations sometimes release newsletters about legal current events that may affect their clients.  Luckily, there are databases and websites which gather and publish these newsletters and make them accesible to everyone.  

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