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Choosing Writing Topics  

This guide is aimed at law review candidates and seminar students in need of a topic.
Last Updated: Aug 21, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Choosing a Writing Topic

Choosing a Topic for a Seminar or Journal Writing Project

At the University of Tulsa College of Law each student must complete a substantial research paper through:

(a) a seminar (2 or 3 hrs) or
(b) participation with one of our 3 law journals by

1. earning a certificate of participation, and
2. writing a paper certified by a faculty member*

*College of Law Basic Degree Requirements

There are a number of ways and resources to find a writing topic.  This guide is written to help students use the resources available in the MLIC and on the internet in choosing a writing topic for either a seminar paper or for contribution to one of the three law journals sponsored by the College of Law.


Journal article:

Heather Meekier, "Stalking the Golden Topic: A Guide to Locating and Selecting Topics for Legal Research Papers," 1996 Utah L. Rev. 917.  A bit dated but helpful on choosing a topic and avoiding topics where there are existing articles.


General Legal Developments:

Topical newsletters are included in many of the online subscription databases to which the MLIC subscribes.  BNA and CCH databases provide topical current awareness publications in their products.  Both products allow users to set up e-mail delivery of new topical information.  Access these subscription databases by using the MLIC website -> Research tools ->  Online and Electronic Resources.  Lexis and Westlaw both have newsletter files which can be searched and allow e-mail delivery of updated information.

Legal newspapers report weekly on cutting edge legal issues, recently decided cases, and legislative and regulatory activity.  Browsing these national newspapers can point out current legal topics.  The most prominent national legal newspaper is National Law Journal (recently incorporated the Legal Times) Westlaw - NLJ & Lexis (NTLAWJ).   Legal newspaper files in Lexis  Legal > Legal News > Legal News By Practice Area and Westlaw (LEGALNP)  contain information on developing legal trends.

Topics of State Interest: 

For topics that have a particular state law focus, start with the state or local bar publications.  These periodicals cover important topics of current interest.  Often in these sources you will see cases reported from the appellate courts of the state, bar news, and continuing education opportunities (some of these may be on new legal developments).  Monitoring the frequently published issues will allow you to find issues that are developing or are unsettled in the state jurisdiction.  State Bar publications are available by jurisdiction in the law reviews and journals combined files in Lexis and Westlaw.  Bar publications are indexed by Legaltrac.  Access Legaltrac on the MLIC website -> Research Tools -> Online and Electronic Resources.  Or click here.

New Legal topics in Legislation and Regulation:

Legislative topics are covered by CQ Weekly Reports.  Proposed topics of legislative action are presented in a non-partisan commentary.  Developing political topics are covered.  Access CQ Weekly by entering the title into the library's online catalog.  Current CQ Weekly issues are available electronically by clicking on the link provided in the catalog record. 

New regulatory activity may be found by:

Monitoring the Federal Register for a particular agency.

Searching by agency in  This link will allow you to review proposed regulations, comments submitted in the regulatory process for proposed regulations, and final versions of regulations.  You can search in various ways for this information.

Searching the latest Unified Agenda.   The Unified Agenda is issued twice a year usually April and Oct. to report regulatory plans and progress of federal agencies.


Ask A Librarian!

Email an MLIC librarian at for help.


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