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FAQ

What is the project?

The Litigation Section of the state bar has created a webpage whereon we have posted topic ideas. Submitted by Utah attorneys and judges. Law students can claim the topics and develop papers or articles based on the topics.

How does it work?

Attorneys and judges can submit topics through an email address: topicbank@utahbar.org. Law students can claim the topics by sending an email to the same address (web-based posting and claiming is also a possibility in the future). Topics claimed will be designated as such but will not be removed from the list.

Is there collaboration between the topic submitter and the student?

Ordinarily no. We understand that for most student papers, collaboration of any kind is not permitted. Nevertheless, some students may be interested in collaborative writing projects that earn no credit and are not otherwise prohibited. A student who has claimed a topic can ask for the identity of a topic submitter, but we will provide it only with the topic submitter’s prior permission. 

The topic list displays a warning that students are to engage in no collaboration with, and receive no assistance from, the topic submitter unless (1) the collaboration or assistance is approved by the student’s professor in advance or (2) the project is not for credit, the project is not prohibited by the law school, and the assistance or collaboration will be appropriately acknowledged. If we learn that any student has violated the above, we may notify the relevant law school, and the student may be banned from claiming additional topics from the website

We believe there are plenty of consequences built into the system (and into consciences) to discourage law students from participating in collaboration prohibited by the law schools.  For example, a student found by a law school to have accepted unauthorized assistance from an attorney in preparing a class paper would be subject to school discipline and would jeopardize her admissibility to the bar. Because of that, and because we simply lack resources, we make no promise to effectively monitor compliance with the above-stated prohibitions, although if we learn of a serious violation, our commitment is to report it. 


Why this project?

The basic idea behind the project is that each year hundreds of law students in Utah (and thousands outside of Utah) are searching for things to write about. Meanwhile, thousands of Utah attorneys and judges are working in the trenches where interesting topic ideas can be unearthed; the Utah Bar Journal and other legal publications are always looking to publish relevant timely articles; and the bar and bench at large appreciate access to such articles. This project is designed to get topics that are found in the trenches into the hands of students. Over time, we expect some of the topics will end up as published articles, assisting legal publications and the bench and bar. But the primary focus of this project is simply to get interesting topics to students.     

Will a topic submitter receive the student paper or article?

Probably not. We do not require the student to provide the paper or article to us, or so that we can forward it to the topic submitter. The main purpose of this project is to serve law students. The project is not intended to be used by practitioners as a means to obtain research assistance. 

Will papers and articles be published on the website?

We are currently considering whether to create an online bank of student papers. We welcome your input on this idea.

What is required from law schools?

Nothing. We do, however, appreciate faculty and administration members pointing students to the webpage as a resource. We also invite suggestions from faculty, administration, and others on improving this project. Suggestions can be sent to topicbank@utahbar.org

Can topics be claimed by law students at BYU or the University of Utah only?

We’ve decided to strike a middle ground here.  For the first 6 months after a topic is posted, it can be claimed only by students at the University of Utah or BYU law schools.  Thereafter, any law student, law professor, or other writer can request a topic.  

Why claim a topic?
While claiming a topic does not remove a topic from the list, it does put others on notice that a claimant is likely already working on a paper or article on the topic. Such notice may discourage others from working on a topic that could soon be addressed in a published article. 

Must topics relate to Utah law?

No.

Are there any other restrictions on topics?

Topics should be of the sort that a student paper or publishable law-related article can be written on. Generally, there are no restrictions on the area of law or practice. Non-litigation topics are as welcome as litigation-related ones. The committee can, however, use its discretion in rejecting or removing any topic submission.    

Why not allow anyone to post topics? 

We are a branch of the Utah State Bar and our foremost intention with this project is to have members of the bar assist law students in our state. Additionally, we hope that having all submissions come from attorneys and judges helps ensure the topics are of a higher quality than would otherwise be the case.   
What sort of oversight is there over topics submitted?

We trust our bar members and judges to submit legitimate topics.  Still, if the committee determines that a topic is bogus or otherwise questionable, the topic may be rejected or removed.  If you believe a topic should be removed, please send us an explanation of why.

Who can be contacted with questions on input on the project?

Please send any comments or suggestions to topicbank@utahbar.org