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Choosing a Topic for Seminar Papers and Journal Notes: What Makes a Good Note

Characteristics of a Good Note

A note should be:

  • Original: Offering original research, ideas, and/or conclusions; it should bring something new to the world of legal scholarship.
  • Topical: Concerning itself with issues of current interest or recent “hot topics.”
  • Lasting: Avoiding focus on volatile world situations that may change substantially over time, e.g., Analyzing a circuit split issue when SCOTUS has already granted cert.
  • Narrow: Limited in scope. It is better to thoroughly cover a narrow topic than to not do justice to a broader topic.

Interdisciplinary Perspective

Research your area of interest in journals of other disciplines. A look outside your field of study can provide invaluable insight to a topic.

A few databases with broad topics include:

Browse Some Notes of Interest

Browse through recent editions of high-quality law journals (including your own!) to get a sense of what other note authors have written. If interested in a particular area of law, locate subject-specific journals for that topic.

Listed below are of some of the more-cited journals in their respective areas:

General Subject Journals
Harvard Law Review (1887~)                                                             Print Online
Yale Law Journal (1891~) Print Online
Columbia Law Review (1901~) Print Online
Stanford Law Review (1948~) Print Online
Michigan Law Review (1902~) Print Online


Journals on International Law
Harvard International Law Journal (1967~) Print Online
Virginia Journal of International Law (1960~) Print Online
Columbia Journal of Transnational Law (1961~)                                 Print Online
Michigan Journal of International Law (1979~) Print Online
Cornell International Law Journal (1968~) Print Online


Journals on Race and Gender Law
Michigan Journal of Race & Law (1996~) Print Online
Journal of Gender, Race & Justice (Iowa) (1997~) Print Online
Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal (2003~) Print Online
Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender & Class (2001~)    Print Online
Rutgers Race & the Law Review (1998~) Print Online


Journals on Technology and Intellectual Property Law
Harvard Journal of Law & Technology (1988~)    Print Online
Berkeley Technology Law Journal (1986~) Print Online
Michigan Technology Law Review (1994~) Print Online
Yale Journal of Law & Technology (2000~) --- Online
Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology (2004~) Print Online


*Online via HeinOnline database