1. Find a Topic
2. Narrow the Topic
Limit the scope of your paper. As you conduct broad searches and read material on the topic, look for ways to narrow it down to a legal issue. Further research will help you define your issue (the problem that needs solved; question presented) and lay out your argument (the steps needed to support the solution).
3. Choose between a case note or comment and create the thesis.
The thesis is your analysis of the topic and the solution, each needs to be supported by legal authority. For a list of theses, see the Theses For a Note and for types of comments see Comment Categories.
4. Preemption check
After you formulate a rough draft of your legal issue, but before you go very far in your research, you need to conduct a preemption check.
1. Case Note- Analyzing One Opinion. "Analyzes one important case in-depth and describes how it affects the current body of law." Source, at 929 (source link is very slow to open). For sample theses arguments to make in a case note see the Theses For a Note.
2. Comment- Examines One Aspect of the Law. Below are a few categories and for more detailed list see the Comment Categories.
3. Other law review topics, usually reserved for lawyers, faculty and legal scholars (in-other-words, too advance for law students).
What is a good topic? Ask yourself these 3 questions:
1. Is what you say true?
2. Is your topic new?
3. Is your topic important and useful?
There is a balance between support v. preemption. The more support that exists for a particular argument, the more likely it will be considered preempted.
Originality, 115 Harv. L. Rev. 1988, at 2007 (2002). [HeinOnline] Also see, William Kupersmith, What Makes a Paper Publishable, 12 (2) The Bulletin of the Midwest Modern Language Association 15, 1979. [JSTOR]
How to find paper topics?
Look for these categories in databases:
Search recent legal news (such as the Legal News area in Lexis) or specialty news (Education Law Reporter, the Bloomberg current awareness, etc.)
"novel issue" or "open question" or unresolved or "circuit split" or courts /5 agree! or disagree!
You might consider writing an article that compares the law in all fifty states. Resources for finding the law in the 50 states, including handy comparison charts can be found in the library's guide Fifty-State Law Surveys.
Pick a topic that will interest you. You are going to be spending a lot of time researching and writing on this issue so choose something you will enjoy writing about.