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Researching for a Scholarly Article or Seminar (SAW) Paper: Selecting a Topic

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

Topic Selection

When selecting a topic you may need to consult with your seminar instructor or a journal editor. Generally, you will be asked to present more than one idea. Often during the preemption process, it is determined that some topics are not as ideal as others, so having multiple topics at the ready is useful.

Your topic ideas should interest you. You are going to be spending a semester or more working with the idea. Authors often pull ideas from their personal lives, academic interests or classes, or areas they would like to work in post-graduation. If you are having difficulty in coming up with topic ideas, here are a few sources that may help you:

United States Law Week Circuit Splits (BloombergLaw login required) provides a monthly list of U.S. circuit splits. 

Major Newspapers will discuss important court decisions, laws, and regulations. At UCLA, you have access to most major newspapers. The UCLA Library guide on news provides an overview of the available newspapers.

Legal Blogs are a great source for recent legal events and legal conflicts. The ABA Blawg Directory offers a fairly comprehensive list of blogs by topic and region. 

Some legal research vendors have prepared webinars and guides to help you select or narrow a topic: 

You can visit some or all of these sources to develop topics. If you are still having difficulty, please stop by the Reference Desk in the Law Library and we will be happy to help you.

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."