Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Choosing & Refining a Paper Topic – Circuit Splits

Law students struggling with defining and narrowing a paper topic should consider looking at an issue where there is a circuit split. Here are a couple of tips and resources for finding those topics:

Topic/Key # searching on Westlaw for jurisdictional splits:
- Topic #106 (Courts) – key numbers 90-98

Other Helpful Search Queries – finding jurisdictional splits:
- Court Circuit /5 split & date restriction to pull recent cases
- ALLFEDS – sy,di(split conflict /s circuit authority) & date restriction to pull recent cases
- SCT-PETITION: “employment discrimination” (or other topic) & split /s circuit authority
- For state law – MN-CS: co(low) & “first impression”
- Add terms to narrow it down to an area of law (i.e. A.D.A.) or use a topical database

Petitions for Certiorari:
- Petitions that are denied may be better source
- U.S. Law Week – search circuit /5 split
- Can also set up alerts on Westlaw & LexisNexis:
 e.g. Topic 170B (Federal Courts) & Key #452 (Certiorari) & HE(conflict)

Law Review Databases – Westlaw, LexisNexis, HeinOnline
- Search on the introductory signal “Compare” in law review database
- Seton Hall Circuit Review – “Current Circuit Splits” column

- Split Circuits 

- Circuit Splits  (new Nov. 2011)

I strongly urge law students not to leave their upper level writing requirement for their last semester of law school.  This can be a great summer project after 2L.  It’s never too early to start researching and refining a topic! 



| Permalink


Post a comment