One of the things I talked about in the Academic Legal Research training today was choosing a topic for a case note or seminar paper. There are lots of different ways to go about selecting a topic. Often case note authors are looking for circuit splits so they can write on a topic that may someday reach the U.S. Supreme Court. While searching in Lexis and Westlaw is certainly one way to find circuit splits, there are a few other resources that can be more helpful.
United States Law Week: Circuit Splits – U.S. Law Week examines important cases across the country on a weekly basis. The Circuit Splits feature highlights the cases that have caused splits among the circuits, providing you with a list of topics and summaries of the issues involved. A quick glance can give you several possible topics. This resource is available through the Law Library.
Split Circuits Blog – On this blog, Professor A. Benjamin Spencer of Washington & Lee University School of Law, tracks cases that have generated a circuit split among the federal circuit courts.
If you’re writing a seminar paper or some other type of research paper, here are some other resources that might help you find a topic.
BNA Resources – Available through the law library, legal publisher BNA provides daily, weekly and monthly reports on specific legal topics that might be of interest to you. Finding a relevant BNA publication may help you find a hot topic to write about.
Law Professors Blog Network – This network of blogs is designed to “assist law professors in their scholarship and teaching.” While you may not be a law professor, here you can find a blog that provides scholarly discussion on a topic you may be writing about.
ABA Journal Blawg Directory – The ABA Journal brings together many legal blogs and arranges them by subject, making it easy for you to find a blog on your topic. Finding such a blog may help you find current topics that would be good to write about.
This is just a start, but you’re likely to find a good topic with one of these resources.