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Comment Topic Selection for Law Reviews: Getting Started

Using this guide can help you identify and commit to a topic for your comment.  

A strong topic choice  ---

  • will be timely and original 
  • will sustain your interest during this school year
  • allows a breadth of analysis and discussion that meets journal requirements, and
  • is sufficiently focused so you can complete your research and analysis in the allotted time and space. 

Tips for Starting the Process

Get Started .... right away! Choose a few areas of interest and note some ideas you are interested in pursuing in these areas. Pick one of the subjects you have noted, and start to read about it right away. Keep at least one other idea in reserve, in case you need to switch topics. You may wish to research more than one topic at least preliminarily as you start.  If so, comprehensiveness is still required to ascertain if a writing topic is worthy, so plan accordingly.

 Plan Ahead....  You are required to do thorough, scholarly research - this cannot be done in a day or a weekend. Allow yourself enough time to think, find, read, and analyze your research materials before your topic & outline, draft, and final paper are due. Also, plan ahead for any interlibrary loan  requests that might be necessary. ILL materials might arrive in a few days or a few weeks. We cannot predict how long it will take to obtain materials from another institution through interlibrary loan. 

Keep Track of Your Research. There are many ways to keep track of your research - either electronically on your laptop or PC, or in a paper notebook. However you choose to keep your research log, be sure to keep track of where you've been as you do your research. Remember, you will need to provide complete citations to all of the material you use in your paper - this will be much easier if you have a complete record of the research you've done. Use your research log to make notes about where you found useful materials and how you plan to use them in your paper. The research log is also a good place to note useful sources to return to later, as you refine your paper with additional research and analysis. 

Stay Focused on Your Topic. One of the easiest mistakes to make as you begin your research is to find and read interesting materials that are not directly relevant to your work. If you think they may be useful later, make a note of them in your research log. Remain focused on what you need to research at each stage. You can always go back to good sources later.

Idea People

You may be able to generate topic ideas from your educational and work experiences. Professors, class discussions, work-related projects, and law librarians can be good sources. Keep the focus on topics of interest to you and do some serious research before meeting with an expert, so you have a basis from which you will develop or refine your ideas.


Reflect on your favorite classes. What issues arose during class discussions that interested you? Once you have identified some preliminary topic ideas and done some research, talk with a professors from your classes, or with a professor who specializes in an area that interests you. If you have developed a topic or an area of interest preliminarily, they may have ideas about issues that are ripe for commentary or which aspects have been more thoroughly addressed in legal literature. 


Consider your projects at work or at internships. Did an issue arise that would be a good subject for your comment? You could also ask your supervisors at work about emerging issues in practice.

Law Librarians

If you have identified a few broader subject areas, the law librarians can teach you how to use databases and current awareness sources to help you narrow your subject area into a more specific topic.  

Commercial and Other Database Resources for Comment Development

The Bloomberg Law page for Law Reviews and Journals is a helpful place to start as you develop your comment topic. It aggregates links in the Bloomberg database that will help you search subject areas in the Bloomberg practice centers, locate Circuit splits, keep up with the U.S. Supreme Court, research comparative state law charts, and more.  

On Lexis, check the Law Review & Journal Practice Center for information about topic selection and using Lexis to do a preemption check, and other materials to help you research and write for publication.  

Commercial legal databases regularly add content for students to help their research, including webinars for topic selection. You could try Westlaw to see if they've created any law review topic assistance.