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Researching and Writing Comments and Substantial Papers

Legal Writing Resources

Academic legal writing differs in some important respects from the writing a legal practitioner produces, such as memoranda, briefs, contracts, etc. Practitioners will often reuse phrases whose meanings have been interpreted and tested by courts, because the goal of the document is to create enforceable obligations that are clearly understood between the parties. Therefore, attribution of one's words to a particular source is neither expected nor required. By contrast, academic legal writing resembles academic writing in other disciplines more than it does legal practitioner writing. Originality of analysis and ideas is valued and, when one refers to the ideas of another, citation to the source is mandatory. Academic legal writing is heavily footnoted, allowing the reader to identify precisely the underlying source of any assertion that is not the writer's own idea or argument. For further information about these issues, see the Library's Academic Integrity page and the Lipson and Posner books listed in the Legal Citation Resources box.

Citation Management

Citation management tools are programs that collect records or citations from research databases (indexes, catalogs, etc.) that you can then organize for your research projects. They also help you cite your research by creating bibliographies, citations, and footnotes automatically.

For more information on citation management tools, such as EndNote Web and Zotero, see the University Library's Citation Management guide and the related guides below.

Legal Citation Resources

Citation management software can be used to organize and store citations to references used in your research. Zotero is a free, open source add-on for the Firefox browser that allows users to manage citations and store web-page snapshots and other electronic objects. Through a separate add-on, it also allows citation in text (in Microsoft Word and OpenOffice Writer), including the Bluebook citation format. For more information, see the Citation Management for Law Students guide.

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