A collection of resources and pointers for writing your comment, note, article and/or book review.
In this guide:
Information on submitting articles to the New Mexico Law Review for publication is located here:http://nmlr.unm.edu/issues/article-submission.html
Information on submitting articles to the Natural Resources Journal for publication is located here: http://lawschool.unm.edu/nrj/article-submission.php
Information on submitting articles to the Tribal Law Journal for publication is located here: http://lawschool.unm.edu/tlj/submission/index.php
For information on submitting articles to publications other than these UNM Law Journals, please consult the websites of those outside Journals as starting points.
While this guide was created for students on the law journals, this section may be of use to any law student as they navigate scholarly writing (comments/notes, seminar papers, or independent research) versus writing for practice. If you have any questions, please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or stop by.
Portions of this Guide reference Part II(C) of Eugene Volokh’s Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, and Seminar Papers, (4th ed. 2010); the University of Chicago’s LibGuide on Researching and Writing Substantial Papers; and Columbia Law Review's 2014-2015 Publishable Notes Manual.
Before a case or statute is discussed in law reviews, it is covered in newspapers, legal newsletters, blogs, or industry magazines and newsletters. Coming across a short article about a recent case or proposed legislation may give you an idea for a topic. Look up legal news using the three major legal research databases. Many legal databases enable you to search for circuit splits or cases of first impression that are worthy of writing about.
Both the ABA and Justia websites have blawg directories that researchers can search by subject. Legal blawgs frequently talk about hot issues and recent decisions and can therefore be a great way to find a topic.
Major newspapers, such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post are another great resource for finding current legal issues. Online news sources, including the following, can also be helpful for finding recent issues in the law:
There are a few resources that focus on circuit splits. Look at these websites to find issues that have been resolved in different ways depending on the court.
Reading recent decisions can also be a way to come up with a paper topic. Try searching Westlaw and Lexis Advance for recent decisions on topics of interest.
To research Supreme Court Decisions, look at:
Huge thank you to Texas Tech for their outline.
A preemption check is the process of determining whether the topic you are writing about has been substantially covered by someone else in the past. Preemption checks look for substantial treatment only - an article on your topic in a legal newspaper or bar journal is not considered notable. Even if a topic has been examined by other authors it may still be a valid choice if you differentiate your paper by, say, taking a different position on an issue.
To perform a preemption check, conduct a thorough search of available legal publications:
Use other resources like WestClip, a Westlaw service that allows you to keep track of the people, places, and events of interest to you. WestClip runs your Terms and Connectors queries on a regular basis and deliver the results to you automatically.
You can conduct your preemption checking using a variety of Westlaw databases to track your issue and automatically notify you of developments that may affect it. For example, watch for law review articles about the death penalty as applied to juveniles by creating a WestClip entry such as death /5 penalty /p offender characteristics in the Journals and Law Reviews database (JLR).
Once you select a topic and do your preliminary research, you need to develop a thesis statement. A thesis statement is the central idea that your entire paper will focus on and it includes the issue that you will resolve. Some things to keep in mind are:
HUGE Thank you to Texas Tech for this outline.
Some publishers automatically send copies for book reviews (see the list below). These books and publisher catalogs are stored in the journals suite, near the main door. NRJ 2L staff are welcome to browse and use this collection. It is policy that older, unused books (over three years since published) are processed by the library and placed in the general collection.
If none of these titles appeal to you, check out UNM Press, ABA Bookstore, and other University Presses. Refine your search by looking for titles related to Environmental Law. The book you choose will need to be a scholarly nonfiction book in the area of natural resources or the environment. If you would like assistance researching recently published books, please contact the Law Library Reference Desk.
Once you have selected a book:
If there is a specific topic the 3L board would like to address, effort can be made prior to the 2L staff starting their year to locate review copies that would be of interest to the 2L and function within the journal issues’ theme(s).
If you have any questions about finding a book stop by the Reference Desk, or email the Journals Assistant. If you have questions about title selection or the assignment, please contact the appropriate editor.
We are currently receiving some, but not all, Natural Resources Law titles from the below publishers:
A case note is broadly defined as an article that describes a single case and then critiques it. There are two types of casenotes. Traditional casenotes describe the case and discuss its practical impact. More modern casenotes go further than this, evaluating the result and the reasoning of a case. As discussed in the comment section, it is easy to expand a casenote into a comment, and often a comment is more appropriate. The casenote generally follows a six-part pattern (but can vary depending on the topic itself): introduction, background, rationale, analysis, implications, and conclusion.
Some typical theses for casenotes are:
This list from: Fajans, Elizabeth & Mary R. Falk, Scholarly Writing for Law Students: Seminar Papers, Law Review Notes and Law Review Competition Papers 11 (2d ed. 2000).
What are the six sections of a casenote?
A comment is generally viewed as a much more expansive work, but it can be very similar to the more modern form of the casenote. A comment covers an area of law, instead of just one case. However, it is important to note that by choosing a case you are interested in, you are often just choosing an area of law you are interested in. One case can easily be expanded into a comment on an area of law discussed in the case. The comment follows a basic four-part structure (that can vary a lot): introduction, background, analysis, and conclusion. The most important thing to remember in deciding to write a comment is that it should make (1) a claim that is (2) novel, (3) nonobvious, (4) useful, (5) sound, and (6) seen by the reader to be novel, nonobvious, useful, and sound.*
Comments tend to have condensed simple theses; some examples are:
* Eugene Volokh, Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, and Seminar Papers 9 (2003).
What are the sections of a comment?