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What is a preemption check, and why should you conduct it?
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 looks 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.
- Preemption checks not only help you make sure that you are talking about a novel and useful subject, but also enhance your chances of being published if you should decide to try.
In the box below, find out how you can perform a preemption check using resources available through the UNM School of Law Library.
Conducting Your Preemption Check
To perform a preemption check, conduct a thorough search of available legal publications. Here are a few resources and tips to get you started:
- Search the full-text law journal databases available through UNM and the law library, specifically.
- Hein Online is one great resource for full-text law review articles dating back to the inception of the journals to which Hein provides access.
- Use Indexes, such as Westlaw's Current Index to Legal Periodicals or the indexes available on Legal Source (linked at the bottom of this box)
- Use Google Scholar
- Search WorldCat catalog and books.google.com
- Check SSRN, Legal Scholarship Network, and other repositories for forthcoming scholarship.
If your topic is one in a specific legal discipline or a quasi/non-legal discipline like economics or sociology, you should look for substantial treatment of the topic in those subject specific legal databases or non-legal databases as well.
- Use the UNM Library website to search for databases by subject using the drop down menu to find resources available to the entire university.
- Use the UNMSOL Library A-Z databases link and click on the "All Subjects" dropdown menu to refine by subject.
Search for annotations on your topic by searching in American Law Reports on Lexis or Westlaw
- ALR annotations are useful because they explore the law of the jurisdictions that have dealt with the issue and reference cases on both sides of the issue.
- Annotations provide background, analysis, and citations not just to relevant cases, but also statutes, law review articles, and other annotations.
Another helpful resource which can also help you keep your research updated is WestClip, a Westlaw service that allows you to keep track of issues 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. You can create an entry using a particular search string that you found useful to have Westlaw run that search string periodically.
"Journal Articles" search in UNMSOL A-Z Database List
UNMSOL Library's A-Z database list narrowed by 'journal articles."
Current Index to Legal Periodicals
Weekly editions of the Current Index to Legal Periodicals, which indexes articles from more than 300 legal publications. Coverage includes the most recent eight weeks.
Legal Source hosted by Ebcso
Provides indexing and full-text coverage of well-respected scholarly law journals. It contains approximately 1,100 full-text journals and law reviews. It also provides detailed indexing for additional legal journals, law reviews, yearbooks, institutes, bar association publication, and university publications.
Social Science Research Network [SSRN]
SSRN is a for-profit collection designed to promote greater dissemination of social science research. In the Legal Scholarship Network, scholars often post pre-publication drafts of papers and law review articles. Most papers are available for free downloading.
WorldCat Catalog search
Allows users to search the UNM Law Library or other libraries for books or multimedia by keyword, subject, title, author, etc.
Google Scholar Search Engine
Best for accessing "known" items; targeted searches of journal articles and court opinions; searchable for federal and state legal opinions.
University Libraries Search
Journals, newspapers, books & more
UNM Law Library A-Z Database List
The Law Library offers access to many specialized legal databases via its A-Z Database List. Login instructions are provided after you click on the database you wish to use.
How to Use Westclip
PDF guide on how to use WestClip to get regular updates on areas of law.
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