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Finding a Topic for Your Law School Paper or Law Review Comment/Note

Techniques and sources for identifying new or unsettled issues that could be the basis for a good law school paper or law review comment or note.

Introduction

To find circuit splits and jurisdictional conflicts, try using: Bloomberg BNA's USLW; blogs; case law; legal news sources; Am. Jur. 2d & ALR; and (for state statutes) the National Survey of State Laws.

Find Conflicting State Statutes with National Survey of State Laws

If you're interested in how different states are dealing with common legal issues, check the National Survey of State Laws, which allows for easy browsing.

"Circuits Splits" Feature in United States Law Week

United States Law Week — available on Bloomberg Law, directly from BNA, reports regularly on circuit splits.

Case Law Searches for Finding Circuit Splits (Lexis & Westlaw)

Sample Westlaw Search

adv: court or circuit /s split and date (after 8/2015)

Sample Lexis Search

court or circuit w/s split

After searching, use the timeline to restrict your result to the latest year or so.

Legal News Searches for Finding Circuit Splits (Lexis & Westlaw)

American Jurisprudence 2d Searches for Finding Circuit Splits (Lexis & Westlaw)

Sample Searches

Westlaw —
adv: court or circuit /s split and discrim!
Lexis —
court or circuit w/s split and discrim!

(Date restrictions can be problematic in Am.Jur. on both Lexis and Westlaw. Instead, once you have broad results, use "Search within results," and use search terms for the topics or areas of law that interest you to narrow your results.)

American Law Reports Searches for Finding Circuit Splits (Lexis & Westlaw)

Sample Lexis "Search Within Results"

court or circuit w/5 split and discrim!

Date restrictions can be problematic in ALR. Instead, once you have broad results, continue to use "Search Within Results," and use search terms for the topics or areas of law that interest you to narrow your results.

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