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Scholarly Legal Research

Getting Started

Circuit splits are popular starting lines for note topics because they involve legal issues that have met differing decisions between circuits.  Unsettled law represent subjects that need discussion and exploration and also makes for interesting reading.  Aside from seeking out circuit splits, current legal news is a great way to determine which issues are hot topics.  

1. Choose a topic that interests you.

2. Look for circuit splits.

3. Check current legal news.

4. Once you have a topic idea, explore news, blogs, cases, and articles to see the viewpoints of others.

5.  Determine your unique contribution.  How could you approach the issue that would offer new, valuable insight?

6. Conduct Preemption checking.  This step is more detailed than determining your unique contribution, and involves ensuring that your angle has not already been presented and discussed.  The "Finding Articles" tab on this guide is useful for this purpose.

Research Strategy - Pearl Growing

Pearls are grown from many grains of sand.  Pearl Growing as an information seeking strategy means to begin with a single source and harvest keywords, cases, links, news leads, etc. to eventually build a well-rounded body of research.  You might begin with a blog that gives you an idea about a current event, and you conclude with a well-composed, original product.  The key is to find  a starting place and then explore the surrounding web of information by picking up facts or resources along the way.


Westlaw and Lexis

Circuit Splits and Current Awareness Resources