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Journal Staff Legal Research Guide: Getting Started-Topics

This guide is designed to assist law journal staff through the process of selecting topics, writing, editing and cite checking law review articles.

Tips on Finding and Selecting a Topic for a Note, Comment or Law School Paper

Finding a topic for a note, comment or law school paper often presents a tremendous challenge. An appropriate topic must be pertinent, not too broad or too narrow, and original. This page of the guide provides a few of the places to look and methods for identifying and selecting a topic. If you are looking in a specific subject area, you might also try one of the law library's research guides.

As a law journal writer your goal is to find timely subject matter that provides an opportunity to say something new about the law. It is important to avoid topics that have been written about frequently. A note or comment could focus on a recent case, enactment, or promulgation that illustrates a new development in the law, could discuss an area in which the law is in flux, a circuit split, or might present a historical angle on a particular legal issue.

When selecting a topic keep in mind the fact that typically you will write your comment or note over the course of your second year. Thus, the topic should not be overly broad. The topic needs to be narrow enough for you to research and read all that you can find on the topic and come to some kind of conclusion in the time allotted. At the same time, the topic should be enormously interesting (at least to you) as you will be with it all year.

In looking for a topic in addition to consulting the current awareness resources recommended in this guide, it is useful to talk to as many lawyers and law professors as possible to gather ideas. Talk to practicing attorneys about issues they see in their work. Talk to professors about emerging issues. Become aware of things that are emerging in the courts and legislatures.

Articles on Writing for Law Journals

Reference Books for Writing Journal Articles and Notes