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Comment Topic Selection for Law Reviews: Topic Selection Resources

Judicial, Legislative, and Regulatory Developments

Legal newspapers, newsletters, blogs, and topical databases often feature unsettled legal issues and trends in the law and law practice. You might start by monitoring a few blogs or legal news websites. Follow up on issues, cases, and pieces of legislation that grab your attention.  

Subject Matter Services and Topical Databases

United States Law Week.  Available in print, KF102.5.L38, and online. Provides analysis of recent federal and state legislative, regulatory and judicial developments. As the title suggests, the publication is issued weekly. Available online from Bloomberg Law. 

Bloomberg Law Reports (a/k/a "Newsletters) report and offer commentary on legislative activity, cases and legal trends.  Topics include, among others: health law and business, international environmental law, privacy law, labor and employment law, right-to-know, corporate law, banking and securities, and bankruptcy law. As of 2019, BNA's topical Law Reports are available in Bloomberg Law.  Use the "Practice Centers" menus from the main page Browse icon.  Or, use the newsletter subscription management page to add topical newsletters that will arrive in your email and can be unsubscribed at any time. 



Directories & Individual Legal Blogs

BlawgSearch on Allows searching and browsing of more than 1,000 legal blogs. Identifies the “most popular” blogs.

Library of Congress Legal Blawg Archive. Provides information as well as archives back to 2007 for more than 100 law-related blogs on a variety of topics. Keyword searchable and browsable by topic.

Law Professor Blogs. Law Professor Blogs is a network of many blogs. Each blog focuses on a particular area of law, such as Alternative Dispute Resolution, Business Law, Elder Law, Employment Law, and Family Law.  The blog posts consist of regularly updated permanent resources and links and daily news and information.

For example: Workplace Prof Blog

ABA Journal Blawg Directory. Browse blogs by subject. Results can be sorted by the “most popular” with directory users.

Marquette University Law School Faculty Blog -- See what your professors are blogging about on their local site.

If you are interested in regulatory issues, check the blogs and other websites listed in the Eckstein Library's Administrative Law Research Guide's Databases & Websites tab.  Most of these sources are designed to be topical and focus on current issues in administrative law.

Legal Newspapers and Newsletters

National Newspapers

Jurist  – Web-based legal news and research site maintained by the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.  Reports on the latest legal developments in real time and provides links to the relevant primary source materials, including complaints, legislation, testimony, decisions, and reports. 

National Law Journal – Covers current legal activity of national importance. Newspaper website offers limited free access to content. Available in print (in the law newspaper area), and on Lexis.

Also try national news publications to learn about current legal developments.  Newsbank offers access to thousands of news sources, at the local, regional, national and international level, including archived editions. 

National news sources like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are available to all Marquette students on ProQuest.  Marquette law students also can set up an individual New York Times account via the law school's group membership, with a searchable archive to 1851. Ask a reference librarian. 

Regional Newspapers

If you are interested in pursuing a topic in a specific jurisdiction, for example, the jurisdiction where you plan to practice, consult that jurisdiction’s regional legal newspaper, bar journal, and other localized publications, like Crain's Business. Many bar journals and legal newspapers are available in HeinOnline, and some are accessible on Westlaw and Lexis.  Wisconsin Lawyer, the Wisconsin bar journal, is available via the WI State Bar website and recent print issues are in the library. Westlaw has selected coverage of Wisconsin Lawyer.  Other examples are:

Wisconsin Law Journal – Offers analysis, digests and text of recent federal and Wisconsin cases. Monthly print publication is available on reserve in the library (first floor), ask at Circulation.  The reference librarian can access a passworded digital version.

Minnesota Lawyer – Available on Westlaw and Lexis.


Topical newsletters also track recent legal developments. They tend to be published either weekly or monthly and contain only brief articles.  Selected legal newsletters are available on Westlaw and on Lexis (includes newspapers and newsletters). You might also try bar association section newsletters.

Ask a reference librarian for help if you are trying to locate more sources like this.


Circuit Splits

You could look for disagreements among the federal circuits on how certain legal issues should be resolved. 

Because circuit splits suggest ambiguity in the law, you do run the risk of having your topic hijacked while you are writing or waiting to be published. In other words, the Supreme Court may choose to resolve the issue, and your topic would be preempted.

If you are interested in a topic that involves a circuit split, you should check the subsequent histories of all of the cases involved in the circuit split to see if petitions for review have been filed and how the Supreme Court handled them.  If no petitions have been filed, check to see if the time for filing has expired.  For a more complete discussion of this issue, see the Eugene Volokh text listed under the tab “Getting Started” in the box titled Recommended Reading.   

Bloomberg Law reports on Federal Circuit splits each week.

Identifying a Circuit Split

Keyword Searches

To identify circuit splits, you can try running keyword searches in case law databases or you can consult resources that compile the splits for you.  Keyword searches might include some combination of the terms “circuit”, “conflict”, “authority”, and “split” in close proximity to one another. You might want to limit your searches to the last 3 or 4 years to make sure you land on current issues.

Tips on splits

Media and legal blogs often focus on splits among the federal Circuit Courts of Appeal. Split outcomes on legal issues also occur between state and federal courts; among intermediate appellate courts in states that do not have a unified appellate structure; and at the highest level appellate courts of different states. 

One way to learn about a range of decisional splits is to keep up on legal news across the country.  Reading a national newspaper regularly, subscribing to topical legal newsletters in Bloomberg Law, and reading law review articles as a regular habit are a few ways to broaden your understanding of the state of the law on issues of interest to you.