Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Seminar Paper Research

This guide is intended to direct researchers to resources on scholarly legal writing, including both legal and interdisciplinary resources.

Basic Article Structure

Introduction
Articulate your thesis, provide roadmap of sections that follow
Background
Lay the necessary foundation for your thesis
Analysis
Set out your arguments in support of your thesis
Conclusion
Briefly restate your conclusion; do not include anything new

Alternative Organization

Introduction
Articulate your thesis, provide roadmap of sections that follow
Part I Background
Lay the necessary foundation for your thesis
Part II Identify problem
Part III Argue for solution
Set out your arguments in support of your thesis
Conclusion
Briefly restate your conclusion; do not include anything new

Problem/Solution Organization

1.Analyze the problem
a.Explain advantages and disadvantages of current approach
b.Explain the reasons change is needed
2.State your proposal
3.Explain its efficacy
4.Explain the weakness of alternative proposals
5.Conclude

Speech Regulation in School Example

Thesis:  Off-campus speech should only be subject to school discipline if the speaker intends for the speech to reach campus, and the speech actually does reach campus, with some exceptions.

Introduction – Supreme Court cases do not address this particular situation: speech that originates off-campus, but finds its way to campus through technology or a third party.
Student Speech Protections (Background)
Sub-divided into four Supreme Court cases
Lower Court Treatment (Background)
Sub-divided by approach
Creating a Test for On-Campus/Off-Campus Speech  (Analysis)
(1) critique of tests already proposed
(2) new suggested test
Conclusion

Speech Regulation in School Example II

Thesis:   Distinctions drawn by the Ninth Circuit--both between minority and majority groups, and between speech that amounts to psychological attacks on others and speech that does not--are inherently problematic in application. For these reasons, courts should formulate a better interpretation of Tinker's “rights of others” prong, such as one that would allow schools to regulate student speech only when it has the potential to spark a physical assault.

I.Overview of Schools’ Ability to Restrict Student Speech [background]
II.Ninth Circuit’s Decision in Harper:  [background & analysis]

A.  Analysis

B.  Criticism [problem]

III.Alternative Interpretation of “Rights of Others” Prong

[solution] 

IV. Conclusion

Published Outline Example

For published examples of outlines, look at tables of contents of student Notes. The following is from Joseph DeMott, Rethinking Ashe v. Swenson from an Originalist Perspective, 71 Stan. L. Rev. 411 (2019). Your initial outline need not be as concise or polished as the table of contents, but this is an idea of how to organize a scholarly article.

Follow William A. Wise Law Library on:   Facebook     Twitter     YouTube     RSS