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How Do I Find a Topic?
•Check those secondary sources!
•If researching a Circuit Split—go through the headnotes of each case and figure out which ones are of interest.
•If addressing a statutory issue, review the statute in an annotated code and look at the statute’s outline as well as the Notes of Decisions (Westlaw) & Case Notes (Lexis) for topical breakdown
Sources to Consult
- Shepardize/Keycite to find who is citing this resource
- Is it a hot topic?
- Browse legal newsletters & commentary (Westlaw Journals, Bloomberg BNA Law Reports, Mealey’s Journals on Lexis, Law360)
- blog posts (Law Prof Blogs Network, ABA Blawg List & others listed on the Free Sites Research guide)
- legal newspaper articles (Legal Intelligencer, National Law Journal)
- Run a preemption check to make sure not covered elsewhere (SSRN, GoogleScholar, HeinOnline, other Law Review resources)
- Consult with an expert! What issues are expected to be important in the next year, two, five? What are practitioners watching for?
Browse Legal News
Legal News articles updated daily. Most articles contain links to court filings and decisions.
Law360 Legal News By Date
Accessible via Lexis. Browse list of recent articles, using filters to limit by jurisdiction, subject, source, timeline (date), practice area, attorney, judge, keyword etc.
The Legal Intelligencer
Online version of the daily Philadelphia legal newspaper. Offers columns on legal issues, case analysis, verdicts, legal notices and job postings. Current week's worth of issues available along with some archived columns from previous months.
Click on "Publications" tab to see full list of available titles including The American Lawyer, The National Law Journal and Supreme Court Brief as well as city/state legal publications such as The Legal Intelligencer (Phila.) or New York Law Journal.
Subscription provided by law library. Click on the "newspaper" icon to see a list of topic pages or run a keyword search at the top of the page.
Bloomberg Law Legal News
Click on the "Browse" button at the top of the page to open up a list of topic pages
Bloomberg Law Analysis
Click on the "View and Filter All Stories" link to sort articles by topic, court, agency, date etc. Also links to other related articles or In Focus topic pages on the same subject.
Westlaw Legal News Index
Browse alphabetical list of publications including blogs, legal journals, newspapers and more.
United States Law Week
Great source for circuit split articles. Click on "View and Filter All Stories" and then run a keyword search for "circuit split," using the other filters to limit by date, jurisdiction, subject etc as desired.
Searches of Case Law
- Try running a search for split or conflict /s court or circuit or authority
- Limit by date or subject to narrow down results
Consult a Research Guide on a Subject area of Interest
If your area of interest in not in the list below, try a google search using the terms "law library research guide ______" -- filling in your subject in the blank. You may also ask for assistance at the Reference Desk.
Sources to Consult When Picking a Topic
Consult with an Expert
Talk to a law professor, your alumni advisor, or an attorney or judge you have worked with for topic ideas.
PLI Plus Continuing Legal Education handbooks
Continuing Legal Education Programs (CLEs) are taught by attorneys practicing in that subject area and often look at hot topics or try to predict what will be the most important issues in that practice area in the year to come. PLI Plus is one of the largest national provider of CLEs and our subscription gives access to the handbooks and materials that accompanied these programs.
Part of the topic selection process may be to determine whether any one else has already written on a particluar topic, in other words, is the topic pre-empted? This search involves multiple sources. There is more than one database to check. Westlaw and Lexis begin coverage of law reviews in the 1980s. To search for earlier articles, use HeinOnline or a legal periodical index. Furthermore, Westlaw and Lexis do not have articles that are "pending publication". The best source for new articles, before they are published, is Google Scholar, SSRN, and BePress.
Westlaw's Law Reviews & Journals
Use Westlaw to find law review articles by searching directly for articles OR by checking Citing References for a case or statute to find articles on that law.
Lexis Law Reviews and Journals
Use Lexis Advance to find law review articles by searching directly for articles OR by Shepardizing a case or statute to find articles on that law.
HeinOnline offers easy-to-read .pdfs of law review articles back to the 1800s. You may search by author, keyword, or word in title. Note also that you may use the HeinOnline citator to see if a particular article is cited by other law review authors.
Links to articles and abstracts of articles on HeinOnline, SelectedWorks, SSRN and other sources. Note that many articles are posted on Selected Works or SSRN before being accepted for publication. It is not unusual for articles to be freely available on the web BEFORE they are available on commercial databases, such as Westlaw and Lexis.
SSRN (Social Science Research Network)
Search for scholarly papers, often posted before accepted for publication.
Bepress Legal Repository
Search for law reviews provided for free by their law schools. Search by institution name or subject area or search across materials by keyword.