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Publishing Your Papers: Writing Publishable Articles

This guide contains information for WCL Students and Faculty on Scholarly Publication

Tips for writing publishable articles

Originality and Contribution to the Legal Field
  • Legal writing should have a goal and recommend a means to achieve that goal.
  • Articles should share new ideas about law with the legal community.
  • Successful scholarly legal writing says something innovative.
  • Be sure to run a thorough preemption check on your topic before you begin research.
Importance of Topic
  • Writing should make a claim that is novel, non-obvious, useful, sound, and seen by the reader as such.
  • Topics should either:
    - analyze conflicting or transitional case law and resolve the conflict;
    - argue that a legal rule is unfair or inequitable;
    - analyze proposed or recently enacted legislation with comments and criticism;
    - apply insights from another field to show how the legal issue can be better dealt with; or
    - explain the legal history of a rule or institution.
  • Use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Avoid awkward and verbose sentences.
  • Writing should read smoothly and provide concise, thoughtful, and authoritative analysis.
  • Consider all sides of the issue--articulate your position forcefully, but treat contrary arguments seriously and respectfully.
  • Read and cite original sources.
  • Continuously update your research during writing and before submission.
Well Written
  • Writers should avoid redundancy.
  • Articles should take a clear position on the issue addressed and discuss and resolve the relevant issue.
  • To persuade the reader, answer discrete questions fully rather than broad questions shallowly.
  • Ideas should show that you grasp the subject matter and should be presented in logical sequence with coherent paragraph organization and sentence structure.
  • Your topic should be current and relevant to the present legal climate.
  • If the article proposes something, it should be feasible in the near future.
  • The text and the footnotes should support each other.
  • Footnotes should be used to support, expand, and clarify.
  • Footnotes should be of use to the reader and should not make up for textual inadequacies.
  • Readers should not have to refer to the footnote to understand the text.



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Bibliography of Scholarly Legal Writing Sources