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Law School Papers and Law Review Notes & Comments - Research Strategies

For USF law students researching and writing scholarly papers and law review pieces.

Introduction

If you're writing a case note, or if you are writing a comment in an area that turns on notable leading cases, you can use the case or cases as an entry-point for research. The same is true for statutes and, to a lesser degree, federal regulations.

Cases as Springboards

Try these techniques:

  • Shepardize the case on Lexis, and KeyCite the case on Westlaw. Consider limiting your results to law review articles and treatises/practice guides.

  • Run case-name searches in  Index to Legal Periodicals and Current Index to Legal Periodicals to find articles about leading cases. For links to Index to Legal Periodicals and Current Index to Legal Periodicals, see the Zief Library Finding Articles research guide. Cheat sheets with search advice are also included with the Finding Articles research guide.]

  • Use Bloomberg LawLexis or Westlaw to find litigation documents (briefs, pleadings, etc.) for recent federal cases. (For more about Bloomberg Law ask a Zief research librarian.)

Statutes as Springboards

Try these techniques, the first two of which may also work for federal regulations:

  • Bring up the statute on Lexis and Westlaw, and check the annotations.

  • Shepardize the statute on Lexis, and KeyCite the statute on Westlaw. Consider limiting your results to law review articles and treatises/practice guides.

  • Run statute-name searches in Index to Legal Periodicals and Current Index to Legal Periodicals to find articles about (as opposed to merely mentioning) the statute. For links to Index to Legal Periodicals and Current Index to Legal Periodicals, see the Zief Library Finding Articles research guide. Cheat sheets with search advice are also included with the Finding Articles research guide.]

Comparing State Statutes

Depending on the statute you're using as a springboard, you may be able to compare it to similar statutes from other states. The best tool for this is the National Survey of State Laws. It doesn't cover every statute, but it does cover lots of statutes representing "some of the most sought-after and controversial legal topics."

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