Law Term Paper
A law term paper is an intensive study of a certain aspect of the legal code or system. The intent of a law term paper is to provide a thorough analysis of some component of the law and discuss either its historical importance or influence or how it applies to a particular issue or situation. Law term papers may be assigned in pre-law classes or even in philosophy or ethics classes.
A law term paper is not the same as a legal brief. A brief is a document that presents the facts of a legal case and argues for a certain decision on that case. Briefs are written by lawyers in preparation for legal proceedings, and are therefore also a common assignment in law school. Law term papers are typically more theoretical in nature and do not focus on one single case but rather on a single issue or concept.
Law term papers must, as their name suggests, focus on the law. It is likely that such an assignment will have a student explore a particular law or legal issue and its evolution over time or its application to a specific issue or scenario related to the class. Either way, the report will be rooted in the presentation and analysis of applicable laws as set forth in the public record. The primary reference source for all laws is case law—laws that have been determined through court cases. In addition, students may need to reference the United States Code—a compendium of recorded federal laws—or the state law equivalents of the US Code. These sources are public, and are usually available on the internet. When citing the law in a law term paper, it is best to present the exact wording of the law as it appears on public record. This is because the law is often interpreted differently, and those interpretations are often dependent upon the language of the law. Each time a law is cited, the writer must reference from where that law comes. The Harvard Law Review Association publishes a citation manual known as the Blue Book, which outlines exactly how these citations should be formatted.
A law term paper, like all reports, is intended to be an advanced document that demonstrates the student's accomplished understanding of the course and the topic. This means that the writer should discuss his or her chosen topic in a thorough and objective way and avoid the use of the first-person voice ("I" and "me") and the insertion of personal or anecdotal examples.
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