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Legal Writing

Introductory resources for legal writing and drafting.

Getting Started

"A good topic is one that is interesting, manageable, and significant."

Richard Delgado, How To Write a Law Review Article, 20 U. San Francisco L. Rev. 445, 448 (1986).

Identifying Circuit Splits

Traditionally, circuit splits identify unsettled areas of law which may inspire interesting note topics. Often they represent topics that the U.S. Supreme Court or Congress are apt to address in the near future. The note writer may be tempted to take a position on a future decision or new federal law on the topic.  However, the success of the note will be doubtful if the Court or Congress contradicts the positions of the note writer. Be careful of the scope of your note when choosing a circuit split topic.  Sources that identify Circuit Splits include:

Nicholas J. Wagoner Circuit Splits.

Seton Hall Circuit Review.  Current Circuit Splits. 

Sunday Splits: Serving you circuit splits every Sunday. (The Emory Law School Advocacy Program).

To search cases that cite circuit court splits on Westlaw or Lexis, search the federal court cases database using the term “circuit w/2 split!” plus the general topic area you are interested in, e.g., “sentencing.”

(circuit or court w/s split) AND [insert terms or phrases to narrow the search]

Current Awareness Sources

A.B.A. Journal Daily News focuses on the latest news related to law practice. Links to Blawgs.

Bloomberg Law News.

Law360: Provided through your Lexis Advance subscription. 


Legal News

Traditional News: Current awareness topics from traditional news resources can bring up events or legal issues that can make cutting edge topics for papers.

Major Newspapers:  Don't forget that major newspapers are available via your Lexis Advance subscription. We also have access to major papers via library database subscriptions.

ProQuest News & Social Media:  A news service available through the campus subscription to ProQuest Congressional focuses on political and governmental news.

Social Media


ABA Journal Blawg Directory: A comprehensive directory of more than 4,500 continually updated law blogs. Find blogs by topic, author type, region, law school or courts.

Justia Blawg Search:  Arranged by Most Popular, Categories, or Recent Blog Posts.

Law Professors Blog Network:  The nations only network of legal blogs edited primarily by law professors. Find blogs by topic or professor.



Justia's LegalBirds:  Legal Professionals on Twitter:  Identify twitter feeds by Lawyer, Law Librarians, Academics, Community Followers, or Tweets Today. Also find by Categories and Practice Areas.

Working Papers

Working papers are useful to identify current trends in legal scholarship. They are also a good place to see if a topic is about to be preempted.

bepress Legal Repository:  Offers working papers and pre-prints from scholars and professionals.

SSRN (formerly Social Sciences Research Network) Legal Scholarship Network  (LSN). Includes working papers, papers accepted for publication and published articles. 

American Law Reports

Fifty-State Surveys

Fifty-State Law Surveys are useful tools to identify paper topics because the variations in state laws may indicate the need for reform or changes in law thereby making an interesting writing topic.  Many types of 50-State Surveys are available, including treatises on special topics, such as employment laws, or surveys or charts.  These may be found on Lexis, Westlaw, HeinOnline, and Bloomberg Law.