Potential law review note topics must be throughly reviewed to ensure that they are presenting a novel claim that has not been previously addressed or made obsolete by further legal action. This does not mean that your topic must be completely obscure or entirely novel, just that whatever nuance or angle you wish to approach the topic with must be original. If you discover that your proposed claim has been addressed by someone else or that the case you were basing your argument on has been reversed or superseded, you will need to alter your approach. This review is essential to determining what materials are relevant to your argument and has to be repeated throughout the research and writing process.
Luckily, a thorough review of relevant material is necessary to the writing process anyway, so once your topic passes its preemption check, you will already have a significant portion of your research completed. Be sure to keep good records of the material you review. The best place to start is with a standard search of the legal literature and a citation check for all your primary law references and you will conduct searches in multiple databases of legal periodical articles. Try several different combinations of search words to make sure your searches are sweeping up as much relevant material as possible. Here are your key tools:
You will probably also want to spend some time doing basic google searches related to your topic, to get a sense of any commentary that may not be officially published, though this is in no way a substitute for the formal tools listed above. Use the down arrow in the search bar to conduct an Advanced Scholar Search.
SSRN: Legal Scholarship Network
You can never know for sure if someone else is working on the same topic you are, but you can take a look at some articles before they are officially published. Professors commonly post drafts of pending work on SSRN. Click on Search and you can the author, title, and keywords in the abstract of the article.
Monitoring Your Topic
Once you are satisfied that your topic passes the preemption check you will conduct more in depth research and set-up alerts to ensure that further developments do not preempt your topic. If you are writing a case note, make sure that you use both the Shepard's and KeyCite tools. You should set-up a Lexis Shepard's Alert and Westlaw KeyCite Alert to monitor the case status. The list of monitoring tools is listed to the left.