How to write a legal research paper

How to write a legal research paper: All you need to know

This article on “How to write a legal research paper: All you need to know” was written by Vridhi Rai, an intern at Legal Upanishad.


Law is all about analysis, critical thinking, and interpretation. Your capability to put together the analysis of the study of the issues in written form is essential in the practice of law. The research paper is one such way to express your creative and analytic thought process, your vision of the theme, and the originality of your content. The word ‘research’ means a systematic examination of material facts. It can be complex and daunting for law students. But research helps in enhancing your knowledge and cultivating your writing skills. This article will help you understand what is research paper all about and how to write a research paper.

What is a research paper?

A research paper is a piece of academic writing which is based on an author’s original composition in the research and the findings on a given theme or topic. The writing should be owned by the author himself or herself. A good research paper strives to convey the information traced by the author crisply and concisely. The paper is written to examine the theme or the provisions, present your stand on it, and showcase evidence in support in a systematic manner. The true nature of the paper shows you the purpose of the theme or topic. 

What is the aim of the legal research paper?

The aim of the legal research paper can be a subjective question since the writing will indicate what the intended outcome is. There are kinds of writings that would pave a way for courts because it geared toward a certain kind of doctrinal analysis of the court’s interaction with theory and practice. The writings are done for better interpretation of the law. It could also be used to influence policy-making and generate debates. The author has a specific objective and intended audience in mind to serve.

How to write a legal research paper
How to write a legal research paper: All you need to know

How to write a legal research paper?

Step-1 Choose a theme or topic:

The foremost step in writing a  legal research paper is to select a theme or topic for the research. Select topics that catch your attention or interest. You can pick topics addressing contemporary issues or topics for the intended audience you wish to cater to. It should be novel, innovative, and interesting. While choosing a topic, read pertinent issues from different sources.  You can follow legal news to search for pertinent topics.

In case, you find difficulty selecting a topic, it will be wonderful for you to approach your professors, colleagues, and friends for consultation. Also, never feel hesitant to change the theme or topic of the research, if you feel it is not the right topic or you will not able to research the topic effectively.

Step-2 Research on your topic:

Now, your next task is to research the topic extensively on your selected topic from credible sources. You can refer to different sources by reading legal research pieces from books to online sites like SCC online, Manupatra, and Kluwer Arbitration. Always remember don’t just goggle. Use conventional sources like books and articles, these will give you a broader perspective. Read as much as you can. Reading helps you understand the nitty-gritty of the law provisions. Please beware of the research as this task can be very monotonous. You might lose motivation to perform this task. But hang in there and stay motivated to find interesting facts.

Step-3 Examine and Make a plan:

After researching, your very next step is to examine and make a plan to execute writing a legal research paper. Your research will be comprehensive with ideas. Please develop a detailed outline. Try adding notes to your research work. It can be possible that you might end up adding too much information to your paper. Highlight the key findings from your study. At this stage you are required to identify the goal of your research work, it can be either argumentative or analytic. You have to determine the masses you are wishing to address. The focus and the tone of the paper should b according to the audience you are intending to reach.

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Step-4 Writing the paper:

The next step is to draft the research paper. Make a final outline of the research work. The outline must have the points to describe the overview of the paper. The basic mantra of legal research is the structure of the paper. The research paper writing should be creative, clear, concise, and comprehensive. The language of your research paper should be easy to interpret. The legal terminologies and material facts are generally very sophisticated and complex. The facts, you are mentioning must be backed by shreds of evidence.

The format of the legal research paper:

The paper should have a proper format that consists of writing styles, referencing styles, page numbering, spacing, and margins. It should also include the headlines, sub-headlines, citations, or credits to the authors and the scholars.

The content of the legal research paper:

The content consists of the following:

Acknowledgment: the content of the paper should include an acknowledgment section that appreciates all the contributors to the research paper for their efforts and encouragement.

Table of contents: it includes the list of the things that you have written in your research paper.

Scope of the research: the scope or object of the research includes the reason for your study. It shows you the skeleton of your research paper. You have stated the problem or issue of the paper.

A literature survey or the sources used in the study: it includes the sources you have referred to in your study. It can be primary or secondary resources. The primary resources include books, statutes, and case laws. The secondary sources include the material you have collected from law articles, journals, and compendiums online or offline.

The hypothesis of the research: the hypothesis is the idea that is suggested to explain the objective of the research conducted by the researcher. It conveys the expectations of the researcher on what basis he started studying the issues, he raised in his paper.

Abstract: abstract shows the gist of the theme you have mentioned in your study. It is like the summary of the findings in your research regarding the theme. It should be written clearly and concisely.

Introduction: the introduction should be well-written to attract the attention of the audience toward the theme you mentioned in your thesis. A glance over the initial paragraphs gives an insight to the readers of your work. The introduction determines whether the research paper is worth reading or not. It should express the research problem, the purpose of your thesis, and background details about the issue you are referring to. It should be short, crisp, and comprehensive.

The main body of the study: the main focus of the paper is the main body of the thesis. The body should be divided into paragraphs along with sub-headings for a better understanding of the facts. Each paragraph should draw the main points of your study. It should begin with the topic’s sentences and should conclude extensively. In the main body, you can add the case laws and judgments.  

The conclusion of the study: the finale of the study should include a summary of the main pointers discussed in the study, it should express your stand or viewpoint towards the research problem. The concluding para of your research can be affirmative or negative in tone. In the end, you can add some suggestive measures to your study.

References or bibliography: at the end of the paper mention the references or the sources links or sites from which you have researched the material facts.

Step5 edit and proofread the final draft of the research paper:

Use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Proofreading will help you to find errors in your content. If you need, to make changes to the paper, check and find the logic and legality of the statement. At this stage, you check the plagiarism of your content.

The things that should be considered carefully before drafting the paper:

you need to check the validity of the judgments before mentioning them in the research paper. The validity of the bills mentioned in your study should be carefully considered. The errors related to applicability or jurisdictions should be carefully verified.


Legal research is not an easy task to perform. It takes a lot of time to conduct it. Constant hard work, attention, motivation, and patience are the factors required to examine and analyze the details. It can be boring. But it will help you in brushing your skills. Your efforts and dedication toward finding more and more material facts will help in shaping you into a good researcher.

It is beneficial for law students for interpreting law provisions, policies, and judgments. It can be used as a medium to influence policy-making procedures and as a tool to aware the masses. Publication of your research papers will act as a stimulating force to your law career. It will help you build your confidence and help them transform into law professionals.


  1. How to write a legal research paper: guide: how to write a winning research paper?- Legal Desire. Retrieved:
  2. A helpful guide on writing a law research paper- Writing help. Retrieved:
  3. How to begin with writing a legal research paper- Manupatra- youtube channel-(video file)
  4. How to write a legal research paper law?|research paper- Eminent law classes-(Video file)
  5. The aim of writing a legal research paper- the art of writing a legal research paper-Rohini Sen-letter of the law-(video file)

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