How to Keep Your Sanity When Writing Legal Research Papers

Research papers are par for the course in law school. But it's easy to lose your sanity and get burnt out in the process. Use these five tips to help you stay on track and finish your paper on time.

1. Choose a Topic You're Passionate About

When writing your paper, choose a topic that you're passionate about. When you care about the topic, you'll find it much easier to immerse yourself in the writing process and stay focused on the task at hand.

That passion will also come through in your writing and make it more engaging.

Exploring a topic that you're passionate about may also help you find a specialization later on in your career. Take, for example, Kate Goldberg at the firm Mainor Wirth . Ms. Goldberg authored a research paper on the quality of nursing home care while in law school. Later in her career, she focused on medical malpractice.

2. Don't Burn Yourself Out

It's easy to get burnt out when writing research papers. Before you know it, hours have passed without a break or time to wind down and recharge. Remember that you have a life outside of work. Writing your paper is, of course, important, but it's equally important to tend to your mental health.

Take your time, give yourself breaks and manage your writing time wisely. Also, give yourself more time than you think you need, so you're not squabbling to finish before the deadline.

Don't become a workaholic. Balance is important both in work and in law school.

3. Vary Your Resources

Use a variety of resources when beginning your research. Use journal articles, websites, encyclopedias, books, newsletters and even blog posts.

Use a minimum of five resources to ensure that your information is varied.

Sources can include: Lexis Advance, Bloomberg Law, Cheetah & CCH Intelliconnect, Law360, Westlaw and United States Law Week.

4. Allow Others to Read and Critique

Once you've finished writing, allow others to read and critique your work. Critiques may allow you to see a different perspective and make changes that will improve your paper.

Allowing others to read your paper will also help you avoid proofreading errors. After spending so much time with your work, it's easy to overlook spelling and grammar mistakes. These errors can easily be picked by a third party looking over your paper.

5. Be Prepared to Write Multiple Drafts

The first draft is just a rough copy of your final paper. Be prepared to write multiple drafts of your paper before all is said and done. Between the feedback from critiques and proofreading, you will find yourself writing and re-writing your paper several times.

Along with asking others to critique your paper, you should also critique your own. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have I proven my thesis statement?
  • Does my paper make sense?
  • Is the information in the right order?
  • Is the argument explained clearly?
  • Am I providing the reader enough information?

Before turning in your final draft, make sure that you check for grammar and spelling errors one more time.

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