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Picking a Topic and Performing Research for your Advanced Writing Requirement (AWR): Home

Not sure how to pick a topic? How to start your research? How to update and evaluate your sources? When to stop? This guide will help.

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This LibGuide was authored by Lisa Parisi, former Head of Public Services of the Gould Law Library, in 2012.

Student Legal Writing



Student writing in the law school setting is very different from other graduate student writing projects.

Law student writing has the potential to reach an audience of:

  • legal scholars
  • lawyers, and
  • judges

A student legal paper if it gets published, may be relied upon for academic or professional support.

NOTE:  Even if you don't plan on having anyone cite to your paper as a secondary authority, you should still take your AWR requirement very seriously. Your professor will.

The generally accepted standard for a publishable student legal paper is to bring something new to the existing legal literature.  You should find a topic that does not duplicate another's work.  Some guidelines to achieve this standard include:

  • raising new issues,
  • proposing new solutions, or
  • looking at existing issues in a new way.

It can be intimidating to think of finding a topic that is original and creative but there are resources that can help.  This LibGuide will help you locate and use those resources and get you started on the road to a paper that meets the legal writing standard of originality and usefulness in the legal community as well as get you a good grade.

Touro Law Writing Center

Touro Law Writing Center

Room 418 (next to faculty offices)

Telephone: 631.761.7182;  Email:

Hours of Operation
Weekdays by Appointment

Ann L. Nowak

Throughout law school and your professional career, you must communicate with clarity and precision. The Writing Center helps law students strengthen their writing skills via:

  • Individual Tutorials. Available by appointment, tutorials emphasize professional level writing skills that include self-editing and revision, as well as word choice, grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Pre-Publication Consultation. We offer editing advice on manuscripts that are being prepared for publication.
  • Small-Group Workshops. Students learn and apply techniques for effective writing.
  • Online Access. Students may e-mail questions concerning writing assignments or personal writing projects, as well as schedule appointments at any time.

Under the direction of Ann L. Nowak, Esq., the Writing Center’s staff of Teaching Assistants – upper level students who have demonstrated excellence in writing as well as in legal studies – help students learn how to create and complete a well-honed work product in which they can take pride.

There is a limit to what Writing Center TAs may offer, however:

  • The Writing Center staff does not proofread or copyedit work. The Writing Center staff does not "correct" papers.
  • The Writing Center staff does not discuss substantive issues in work students will hand in for a class.