Finding a Topic
There are several methods you can use to identify new legal developments, conflicts in the law, or gaps or errors in legal reasoning. A legal issue does not have to be fully formed in your mind in order for you to begin. The first step is to discover a legal conflict. You can browse legal news, skim through recent court decisions, look for circuit court splits, and use Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg databases to review the news and secondary resources in your field of interest. Here are some other avenues for finding a claim:
A case note is your opinion about how a particular court decided a particular case. A case comment lays out, reflects on, and critiques a court's decision and tells the reader what you think about the decision. There are several resources you can use to identify a case. Remember the time frame of your search is six months to a year. Use a combination of tools to track down court decisions and circuit court splits. Lexis, Westlaw and Bloomberg provide legal news, court decisions, circuit court splits, and subject specific tools which you can rely on.
Lexis to locate a case in which a question of interpretation of law is presented which has never arisen before in any reported case.
"first impression" Select your jurisdiction and cases and then narrow your timeline.
Lexis to find circuit court splits.
split OR conflict OR disagree! /s circuit OR authority Select U.S. Federal Cases and then narrow your timeline.
Westlaw to locate a case in which a question of interpretation of law is presented which has never arisen before in any reported case.
"first impression" and da(aft xxxxx) Select your jurisdiction and cases.
Westlaw to locate circuit court splits.
split OR conflict OR disagree! /s circuit OR authority and da(aft xxxx) Select U.S. Court of Appeals cases.
Save time and use the links to Legal News, Circuit Court Splits, and Blogs provided on this webpage!
ABA Journal - Latest News
Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) publishes a variety of subject specific resources with a current events section. Most are case law oriented, and are great for finding both comment and note topics. Many BNA sources have a "Hot Topic" link to find current news. You can set-up specialized email updates/alerts with either of these Bloomberg products:
Bloomberg BNA is available via the Chase Law Library Databases page. You can access the Bloomberg BNA Current Reports for help.
Bloomberg Law requires that you register for a Bloomberg Law account and Chase Law students are eligible for the service. Go to https://profile.bna.com/bloomberglaw-activate/ to signup for the service. You can access the Bloomberg Help page or Bloomberg Law Quick Reference Guide for assistance.
Lexis - State news, newswires, blogs, major newspapers
New York Times - Look under the subject "Courts and the Judiciary"
Westlaw - News includes news by topic, news by jurisdiction, news in magazines and newsletters, newspapers, and blogs.
Short Circuit - Institute for Justice
Weekly newsletter or e-mail roundup of the week's rulings from the federal courts of appeal. You must register to receive this information.
U.S. Law Week - (via Bloomberg or BNA)
Circuit Court Splits found under Key Features.
Seton Hall Circuit Review
Current Circuit Splits Column
Latest posting is Fall 2016
SCOTUSblog -Look at petitions pending before the U.S. supreme Court as many may be circuit splits.