Category Archives: Legal Writing

Research Tips: Top five tips for selecting a paper topic

Right around now, many of you are trying to choose paper topics for your final papers or for law review. Once you have a topic, you will be doing preemption checks to ensure that no one else has written on your topic. You will also want to do a literature review  to find everything written on your topic.

Some people have come to get extra training in legal research to help with this paper writing process. Find the Legal Research Training page on TWEN and use the sign-up sheets to sign up for a training session. Email reference librarian Catherine Deane with any questions.

Here are my top five tips for finding a paper topic:

  1. Check to see if there is a Research Guide  on your topic that provides links to relevant news sources
  2. Know where the Databases  are on the TJSL Library Home Page, log in with your network ID and check to see if there are any BNA databases that cover your subject: Hint: Look for circuit splits eg in BNA United States Law Week  
  3. Check out ABA Blawgs  and read any frequently and recently updated blogs on your topic
  4. Check out reputable news sources such as: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, NPR News
  5. Check out the websites of relevant organizations and look for recent reports, eg. United Nations, International Labor Organization, Amnesty International

Once you have selected a topic, you will want to find all relevant literature  on your topic. This is partly so that you  can make sure no one else has written exactly on your topic, and partly to have a body of literature to build on when you make your own argument.

Consider using a model like the Steven Toulmin Model   to analyze the articles and organize your argument.


Succeed Your First Year!

Succeed_Your_First_YearDrop by the Library and look over our lobby display of materials that can enhance your first year experience and help you to succeed. Materials include advice on coping with stress, understanding legal reasoning, mastering the basics of legal writing, and how to study for your law school exams. Get off to a good start in law school and visit the Library today!

Library Highlights: Legal Research

“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.”
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
1937 Nobel Prize Recipient

Legal_ReasoningLegal Reasoning, Research, and Writing for International Graduate Students
Nadia E. Nedzel
KF272 .E38 2008
From the Publisher: Legal Reasoning, Research, and Writing for International Graduate Students Second Edition, offers broad coverage and skill-building exercises for legal research and writing courses geared toward LL.M. students. Nedzel has tailored her book with sensitivity to the needs of students who are either unfamiliar with U.S. law, or who are still in the process of mastering English, or both. Legal Reasoning, Research, and Writing for International Graduate Students, Second Edition, features: a comparative perspective that explains unique and important features of U.S. law, beginning with common and civil law, explanations of practical skills—assuming no former knowledge of U.S. law or legal culture, the text is informative and clear, complete coverage of basic methods—such as IRAC analysis — for preparation of legal documents, and # integrated approach to proper citation format—explanation and instruction appears in context.

Advanced_Legal_WritingAdvanced Legal Writing and Oral Advocacy:
Trials, Appeals, and Moot Court
Michael D. Murray and Christy Hallam DeSanctis
KF250 .M873 2009
From the Publisher: This book is designed for second-semester and upper-division advanced writing courses involving advocacy and oral argument at the trial and appellate levels and in moot court competitions. The course book is paired with an electronic, computer-based version of the text that adds links to online databases and Internet-based resources and supplements the text with pop-up definitions from Black’s Law Dictionary®, audio and visual explanations and depictions, and PowerPoint introductions to and summaries of the material.

Legal_Writing_EthicalLegal Writing:
Ethical and Professional Considerations
Melissa H. Weresh
KF250 .W438 2009
From the Publisher: This book is designed to supplement a legal writing course, ethics course, or clinical course. Legal Writing: Ethical and Professional Considerations 2nd Edition tracks the types of documents typically produced in a first-year legal writing curriculum. It identifies ethical rules and professional concerns that pertain to the particular type of document, while introducing cases to illustrate how the rules should influence lawyers’ behavior when preparing and submitting those documents. It also contains notes designed to reinforce students’ understanding of how the rules should affect them as they communicate professionally in writing.

Nolo_Legal_ResearchLegal Research:
How to Find and Understand the Law (Nolo Press)
KF283 .I35 2007
From the Publisher: Excellent for anyone searching for information in a real or virtual law library (including paralegals, law students, legal assistants and journalists), Legal Research outlines a systematic method to find answers and get results. In plain, readable English, Attorneys Elias and Levinkind explain, with plenty of examples and instructions, how to: read and understand statues, regulations and cases, valuate cases for their value as precedent, use all the basic tools of legal research, practice what you’ve learned with “hands-on, feet-in” library exercises, as well as hypothetical research problems and solution.

Legal_Research_MethodsLegal Research Methods
Michael D. Murray and Christy Hallam DeSanctis
KF240 .M87 2009
From the Publisher: This book focuses on legal research tools and the theory and practice of legal research, written from a practitioner’s perspective. It discusses planning for and performing research and provides criteria for determining when you are finished with your research. It includes sample research plans for tight budgets in terms of time or expense and uses a process-oriented methodology designed to maximize research results in the most economical way.

Legal_Research_NutshellLegal Research in a Nutshell
Morris L. Cohen and Kent C. Olson
KF240 .C54 2007
From the Publisher: The Internet has dramatically affected the way legal research is conducted, but finding and using legal resources effectively remains an essential skill for lawyers. This comprehensive but succinct guide covers major primary and secondary sources, including major Web resources such as THOMAS and PACER (Public Access to Electronic Court Records) as well as online databases and library materials. Discussion includes coverage of legislative history, administrative law, practice and specialized resources, and research in international and comparative law.

Legal_Research_ExplainedLegal Research Explained
Deborah E. Bouchoux
KF240 .B683 2008
From the Publisher: This engaging text helps students develop both knowledge and confidence: using a building-block approach, which is instrumental in ensuring that students master the critical skills of legal research, Bouchoux discusses conventional print legal research sources before computer- assisted and electronic sources. Similarly, primary authorities are discussed before secondary authorities and statutes are covered before cases, because this is the order in which it happens in practice, divided into five sections: 1) conducting legal research using primary authorities; 2) conducting legal research using secondary authorities and other research aids; 3) computer-assisted legal research and the Internet; 4) legal citation form and validating authorities; and 5) “putting it all together” and providing a final overview of the legal research process […].