Legal Research Guide Topics For Essays

1. Choose a Topic You Find Personally Interesting

It will be much easier to spend the necessary hours putting your note together and being enthusiastic about your topic in interviews or meetings with editors if the topic is one you find personally interesting, rather than one chosen for seeming 'important' or 'scholarly'.

2. Stick to a Schedule

Even before you begin investigating topics, identify the due dates and important benchmarks for your journal and sketch out a schedule of when research, writing, editing and polishing will take place, and then stick to it - you'll be much less likely to get bogged down in a morass of research or stymied by endless options if you've set firm deadlines for yourself.

3. Keep Track of Your Research

Often law students start out searching by clicking wildly through databases or Google results, but when it comes time to pull everything together, they've forgotten or can't find the materials they've looked at. While you're investigating topics, keep track of what you've looked at and all the materials that come up in your preemption check - these will be the resources you'll want to look at later.

4. Make Use of All Your Resources

Law students doing research tend to get stuck in a Westlaw/Lexis rut, which can be perfectly fine for investigating law and legal scholarship. For writing a law review note, however, you will also want to consider other sources - treatises, current awareness services, blogs and other legal commentary, books, historical sources, etc. And the best way to make sure you're considering all your options is to . . . 

5. Make Use of Your Law Librarians!

The law librarians can help you find resources, identify ideas, suggest new sources to investigate, and assist with organizing your results or even your thoughts. We are available at the reference desk in the library and by appointment if you'd like to investigate something in-depth.

Develop a legal research strategy and add these tips and tools to your legal research checklist. It is often helpful to begin your research in an unfamiliar area of law with a secondary source like a research guide. Below you'll find a list of our favorite legal research guides as well as tips on how to find others.

Law Library Research Guides

Other helpful online sources include Zimmerman's Research Guide and LLRX.com. 

Search Online

Search [type of law] law research guide

ex. health law research guide
ex. health law research guide site:.edu (adding site:.edu to Google limits the search to .edu sites only)

Search [type of law] law pathfinder

ex. health law pathfinder

Search [type of law] "annotated bibliography"

ex. health law "annotated bibliography"

Search the Catalog

Search the catalog for subject headings "legal research" or "law bibliography" or do a keyword search for [legal topic] legal research (ex. animal rights legal research). 

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