Skip to main content

Developing a Topic for Research Papers: Choosing a Topic

Resources for choosing and developing a topic for a law school research paper.

Guide Contents

Use the tabs at the top of the page or the links below to navigate through this guide.

Hot Topics in the Law

Below are the top 5 stories from Above the Law.

Loading ...

How to Find a Topic

Using Current Awareness Tools/Services

Current awareness tools or services help keep you informed of new information and issues in a specific area of interest.  When you sign up for a service, you receive regular emails advising you of updates, interesting developments or news stories about a certain topic.  Keeping up-to-date with these services can help you find new or emerging legal issues to write about.

Legal blogs are also a good way to locate contemporary legal issues.  You can check out the ABA's top law blogs for 2012 here.

Finding Circuit Splits

Preemption Check

What is it?

A preemption check is the process by which you determine whether or not your paper topic is original.  Although you may find other journal articles written about your topic in general, the key with a preemption check is that your main thesis or arguments must be orginal.

How do you do it?

Check for existing articles

Look for soon-to-be-published articles and working papers

Set up automatic alerts

  • WestClips (click here for user guide)
  • Lexis Alerts (click here for user guide)

Plan of Action

Whatever your legal issue, you should always develop a plan of action for your research process.  Always keep a good record of your research trail so you know what you have already done and what you still need to do.  It's important to create a plan that works for you and for the specific issue or project on which you are working. 

Keep in ming that you may have to go back and revise your thesis if you can't find enough information on the topic or support for your arguments.  

Please contact a reference librarian if you get stuck!