Throughout the semester, you will look at and use various examples of legal scholarly articles. As per our book, these don’t carry the same weight as cases when it comes to defending/supporting, but they carry some weight nonetheless and are a valid form of support. These articles are typically written by professors of law and are argumentative in nature. They are published in scholarly journals that cover law as a general subject and are supported by other scholarly articles and/or cases and briefs. Your task for this assignment is to choose a topic and research and write your argumentative, scholarly essay regarding law. Because of the grade weight of this assignment (20 points), you may opt to work on this by yourself, or you can work on it with one or two other persons in your group.
What do I write about?
Ideally, your topic should be something that you’re inspired about within the realm of law. You can start off my browsing legal news or legal blogs to get the ideas flowing. Check out the law professor blogs network, Justia BlawgSearch, the American Bar Association Blawg Directory, and others. Maybe something stuck out from class? Maybe you heard about something at school/work? Find something that really interests you and feel free to set out and explore other resources.
After you have a general topic, you’ll want to make it more specific. A general topic could be, for example, immigration. Narrow it down by making it a legal issue. Think of this as holding your paper up-close versus far away. You want to hold it as close to you as possible. You can do this by date, by area, or create a concept map to help you make it as specific as possible.
After you analyze your topic and think of a solution to the issue, start developing your thesis, which you will need to support in your article using legal research (cases and other legal journal articles). All in all, you’ve probably written an essay like this at some point in your career, though maybe a strictly academic one. This is a law one.
Think you have a good topic? Think again.
As you’re exploring through your topic ideas, you should ask yourself if your legal issue/solution is valid. Remember, your essay needs to be supported. You have to be able to defend it using legal and scholarly research.
Are you simply re-hashing something that already exists? If your question has already been answered in the way that you’re answering, then what’s the point? You want to be able to make a contribution this legal conversation and not say something that’s already been said.
Ask yourself if your topic is purposeful. Are you aiming to write about something noteworthy? Is it going to make a contribution, even if small, to existing legal knowledge? What impact will your article make? How will others be able to use the information in your article?
The topic is everything, which is why I’m spending all this time writing about it. This is a big project you’ll spend quite a bit of time on. So it’s important for you to try to enjoy it as much as you’re able to.
What it is. What it do.
Your researched, legal scholarly article should make a claim/argument/thesis (all of these are the same thing here) that is new, not blatantly obvious, purposeful, sound, and perceived by your audience with these characteristics. As stated before, you’re writing this in order to be able to contribute to an ongoing legal conversation. Have that purpose in mind.
Again, we’ll see different examples throughout the semester, but while your article doesn’t need to be broken up into sections, it should contain the following elements: A) an introduction that introduces the claim, which can be your opinion, your stance, problem/solution, issue/resolution, etc.); B) background information, which is used to describe the relevant law as it exists and any facts/history that are required to understand the issue; C) proof of claim, where you show your support and why your argument is right and/or the most ideal way to solve the issue; and D) your conclusion or closing statement.
As stated previously, your argument should be supported by scholarly research. For law, this can be cases and/or other scholarly journal articles. You can find these sources in our library databases, Legal Collection and Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe (Nexis Uni). Please refer to our textbook, Ch. 7 on page 133, for how to properly cite from these sources.
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