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Academic Legal Writing - Tips  

Last Updated: Oct 10, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Academic Legal Writing - Sources

There are a number of articles and books written to provide guidance for students faced with the daunting task of their first legal academic paper, be it for a grade or as their Law Journal Student Note. Some helpful ones are listed below.

Online Sources & Articles:


Cover Art
Academic Legal Writing - Eugene Volokh
Call Number: KF250 .V6 2016
ISBN: 9781634598880
Publication Date: 2016

Cover Art
Scholarly Writing for Law Students - Elizabeth Fajans; Mary R. Falk
Call Number: KF250 .F35 2011
ISBN: 9780314207203
Publication Date: 2011

Cover Art
Scholarly Writing - Jessica L. Clark; Kristen E. Murray
Call Number: KF250 .C528 2012
ISBN: 9781611630176
Publication Date: 2012


Selecting a Topic -- Current Awareness

BNA/Bloomberg Law Reports - One of the best collections of current legal events by topic is that provided by Bloomberg/BNA. They are available at the Law LIbrary Database Guide under "Topical Resources."

U.S. Domestic Law Topics:

  1. News - general newspapers can be a great source of current issues that would warrant legal attention. It may be a controversial case, or another topic, such as presidential elections. When reading the news stay aware of issues that you do not know the legal solution to.
  2. Legal News - Legal newspaper, such as the National Law Journal, or the New York Law Journal, will also expose you to various legal problems surrounded in controversy or that are unresolved. Both can be found online through Lexis. The New York Law Journal is also available online through the Law Library here: New York Law Joural.
  3. Circuit Splits - Circuit splits (where two federal appellate courts have resolved the same issue differently) are a traditional inspiration for legal writing. Circuit splits can be identified through BNA's US Law Week "Circuit Split Roundup" or the journal titled "Seton Hall Circuit Review" - available in print in the Law Library, or through Hein Online.
  4. Legal Blogs - a less-traditional method for identifying paper or article topics is legal blogs. Many attorneys and professors contribute to Blawgs and discuss issues and cases worthy of note. Some blaws on various topics can be found here:   or
  5. JURIST - Jurist is an open legal news site supported by the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. It posts news and commentaries on various "hot" topics.
  6. Casebooks - Your casebook can help you identify unresolved legal problems. Read through the questions listed after the text from a case. Often, these questions present unresolved legal problems that you can then discuss in your paper.
  7. Ask faculty members, attorneys or librarians for suggestions.

International and Foreign Law Topics:

  1. News - as in the US, foreign news sources can be a great place to look for paper topics. Weslaw, Lexis and Bloomberg Law all have extensive worldwide news coverage. For SU students, another helpful list of sources is the News & Newspapers page at Bird Library:
  2. JURIST - Jurist is an open legal news site supported by the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. It posts news and commentaries on various "hot" topics in domestic US as well as international and foreign law.
  3. International Review - This newsletter reports on contenporary international and comparative law topics and may inspire a research topic.
  4. Library of Congress Global Legal Monitor - this online publication cvoers legal news and deveopments worldwide.
  5. PAIS Index - this datbases "chronicles issuesin the public debate through ... selective coverage of a wide variety of sources." It is available to SU students through Bird Library's subscription, and is one of the International Relations databases listed here:
  6. American Society for International Law Insights - ASIL Insights provides background on developments of interest to the international community.
  7. General International Law Databases can also offer great guidance. Many of them include sections of current events. For examploe, the Oxford Reports on International Law has a section on "Public International Law News" as well as a section noting the "Latest Content" added. It also includes a link to "Oxford's Scholarly Guides to Current Affairs."

Subject Guide

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Christine Demetros
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Assistant Dir. for Student Learning
Law Library
Syracuse Univ. College of Law
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Syracuse, New York 13244-6070
office: 315.443.9531
fax: 315.443.9567
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