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Law Library News for May 13, 2002

Ann Hemmens, editor

Law Library News Archive


7th Annual Bridge the Gap Program

Mark your calendars: Tuesday, June 25th, from noon till 6, at Seattle University's Sullivan Hall, the 7th Annual Bridge the Gap program for 1 & 2L's who want to refresh their legal research skills. This free event draws students from more than a dozen law schools who are working in the Seattle area during the summer.

Look for more information in future columns and watch the Law Library's website for registration and program details next month.

Summer Use of LexisNexis & Westlaw

by Nancy McMurrer

LexisNexis and Westlaw academic contracts do not permit you to use their products during your paid clerkships during the summer. In fact, the two vendors cut off your access to their products during the summer months. However, if you are taking a class, working in an externship for which you receive law school credit, are on one of the law review/journal staffs, are on the Moot Court Honor Board, or working for a professor during the summer, you can extend your password or ID for full access this summer.

To extend your access to LexisNexis this summer, go to and look for the ID Registration link. Just follow the directions there. All students continue to have access to the LexisNexis career databases during the summer.

For full access to Westlaw this summer, go to and look for the Extend link. Even if you do not meet the full-access criteria for Westlaw, you will have two hours access to Westlaw per month during the summer, just to keep your skills active. Remember, however, that use of Westlaw or LexisNexis is for academic purposes only and may not be used in connection will your paid jobs!

Finding Law Review or Legal Research Paper Topics

How can you find an interesting topic for that law review note you are writing or for the legal research paper required in your seminar? In addition to talking to people (your professors, practicing attorneys, judges etc.) there are several print and online resources you may find helpful in your search for a topic.

[Editor's note: For a more extensive discussion of this topic and related resources, see our guide on Writing for and Publishing in Law Reviews.]

Scholarly Writing for Law Students: Seminar Papers, Law Review Notes, and Law Review Competition Papers, 2d ed., by Elizabeth Fajans & Mary R. Falk. KF250 .F35 2000 at Reserve
The chapter �Inspiration: Choosing a Subject and Developing a Thesis� includes ideas on finding and narrowing a paper topic. It includes chapters addressing research strategies, the writing process, and writing style.
Heather Meeker, "Stalking the Golden Topic: A Guide to Locating and Selecting Topics for Legal Research Papers," 1996 Utah L. Rev. 917.
This article includes tips on how to find a topic, different types of topics (traditional and nontraditional), and how to conduct preemption research to determine if the topic you are interested in is the topic of existing article.
The United States Law Week. KF105.1.U5 at Reserve & Reference Office. Available on Lexis (USLW) and Westlaw (BNA-USLW).
This weekly publication from BNA provides current analysis of significant federal and state cases in all practice areas as well as important legislative and regulatory developments. The �Circuit Split Roundup� section is included periodically in the �Legal News� section of the General binder (there are two binders for the current issues). You can flip through the News section until you see �Circuit Split Roundup� or access it via the General Index under the heading �Courts and Procedure, Federal� and the subheading �Circuit Appeals Courts decisional disagreements, monthly roundup.�

Current Index to Legal Periodicals (CILP). K33.C87 at Reading Room & Reference Office. Last 6 weeks online. Available on Westlaw (CILP).
This current awareness tool provides quick access to the contents of over 500 legal periodicals, either through the Table of Contents or organized within 100 legal subjects. Law review articles are indexed here 4-6 weeks before they are indexed by commercial legal periodical indexes such as the Index to Legal Periodicals, the Current Law Index, or the Legal Resource Index. A Clearinghouse for Legal Paper Topics,
A UCLA law professor and the staff of the UCLA law library have created a website dedicated to providing a clearinghouse of ideas for law journal articles. Law professors, judges, and attorneys can submit topics. The topics are organized by subject matter (e.g., antitrust, election law, privacy law, wills and trusts).

Topical Newsletters

These newsletters focus on current developments and trends in a particular area of law (e.g., affordable housing, construction, ethics, labor). They are usually short in length, available in print and online, and are issued on a weekly or monthly basis. Consult Legal Newsletters in Print (KF8.E57 at Reference Office) to find newsletters in a particular subject area or from a particular publisher (ABA, CCH, BNA).

National Legal Newspapers

These titles are published quickly so news of pending cases or landmark decisions may be discussed here first. A quick browsing of the headlines may spark some ideas. Both titles are indexed by Legal Resource Index, which is available through the Legal Databases & Indexes page under the name Legaltrac) and on Westlaw (LRI) and Lexis (LGLIND).

National Law Journal (current issues at Reserve) is a weekly newspaper for the legal profession. Available on Lexis (NTLAWJ) and Westlaw (NLJ).

ABA Journal (current issues on Reserve) is a monthly magazine published by the American Bar Association. Available on Lexis (ABAJNL) and Westlaw (ABAJ).

Current Awareness Services Online

Westlaw Bulletin (WLB) database contains summaries of recent developments in federal and state judicial, legislative, and administrative law. It is updated daily.

Westlaw Topical Highlights -- these databases (there are currently 22) contain summaries of federal and state judicial decisions, legislative, and administrative activities in particular areas of law (e.g., antitrust, family law, maritime law). Documents are added on a daily basis.
Lexis Practice Pages -- Utilize the current awareness tools provided on the Practice Pages (link in upper right hand corner). Choose an area of law (e.g., environmental, immigration, securities) and look for the �Current Awareness� or �Recent News & Legal Developments� links. These provide already created searches run in current databases.

Searching Full-Text Law Reviews on Lexis or Westlaw

Try searching in databases containing the full-text of law reviews for indications in an article that the author has mentioned an interesting question in need of further research. Try phrases such as �open question,� �interesting topic,� or �article topic.�

Lexis (ALLREV) and Westlaw (JLR).