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Researching for a Scholarly Article or Seminar (SAW) Paper

A guide to help you get started on your big paper.

Finding Topics Through Legal News

Legal news is a good starting point for topic ideas that are fresh, relevant and haven't yet been written about in many law review articles. Try these legal news sources:

One especially popular legal news source for finding topics is U.S. Law Week's Circuit Splits section. Writing about circuit splits (disputes between different federal circuits) is a classic law review topic. You can access Circuit Splits on Bloomberg Law:

Finding Topics Through Legal Blogs

Legal blogs are another good starting point for fresh ideas.

Justia provides a directory of legal blogs:

The following blogs can be especially helpful for finding relevant, publishable topics:

Finding Topics Through Law Reviews

Skimming the tables of contents for law reviews in your area of interest can spark ideas for topics, help you identify potential journals to submit your article to, and allow you to get a sense of what types of topics and article style those journals prefer.

Washington & Lee School of Law provides a ranking tool that allows you to locate the major journals by practice area:

Additionally, if you're interested in a general topic, you can run searches of law review articles on Lexis and Westlaw to check for any previous law review articles suggesting ideas for further research on that topic. This is hit or miss but worth a try!

For example, imagine that you'd like to locate possible topics on the Fourth Amendment. You might try a search like this:
"Fourth Amendment" /p ("open question" OR "interesting topic" OR "article topic")

Filtering your search results to articles within the past two or three years can help limit the number of results to sort through and allow you to find the freshest topics. 

You can search law reviews on Lexis and Westlaw using the following links:

Ways to Approach Your Topic

In this video, Law Professor Nancy Leong discusses "Five Approaches to a Law School Paper or a Law Review Student Note."