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Capstone/WIE: Finding & Researching Your Paper Topic

Use Print & Online Sources

It might seem obvious, but choosing a paper topic is not as simple as searching online for inspiration. The best tactic is to use a combination of print and online sources to find your topic. 

  • Search the catalog
  • Browse the shelves
  • Talk to a expert in the field, whether it's a professor or legal practitioner 
  • Read "Blawgs"
  • Follow experts on Twitter
  • Use current awareness tools 

Current Awareness Services in Print

Some services providing analysis of current development in the field and reports of recently decided cases are available in print in the Law Library. Searching the catalog for these tools can be difficult at times. Consider using “reporter” and your legal topic as a keyword search. Other words that may prove useful include “weekly”, “alert”, “current”, “news”, “analysis”, or “newspaper” and then use one of these in conjunction with “law” or “legal.”

Browsing the shelves still works! Go to your subject area of interest in the stacks and look for multi-volume looseleaf services, in particularly ones by BNA (Bureau of National Affairs) or CCH (Commerce Clearing House).

Current Awareness Tools Online

Practicing attorneys use current awareness tools to stay up-to-date with breaking news, statutory and regulatory changes and appellate court opinions in their field of practice. You should learn how to use these tools in law school. 

Social Media Tools for Current Awareness

Social media is another great place to discover and keep up on the latest legal issues.

Blogs

There are a number of law blogs ("blawgs") in specialized subject areas written by attorneys, professors, judges, students, and other legal specialists. Use the links below to find a blog of an interest. 

Twitter

Twitter is very popular in the legal sector. You can search Twitter by keyword to find recent tweets on a topic, or use the directory below to search. 

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