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Preemption Checking

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Step One: Search Law Journals and Legal Periodicals for Articles on Your Topic

  1. Search the full-text Westlaw (Journals and Law Review Database) and Lexis (U.S. Journals and Law Reviews) law review databases. Although there is a large amount of overlap between these two databases, you should check both since the coverage is not exactly the same.
  2. Search the HeinOnline Law Journal Library. HeinOnline is a full-text searchable database of law journals that contains some titles that are not available on Westlaw or Lexis. It also contains older volumes of law reviews that are also unavailable on Westlaw or Lexis.
  3. Search for your topic on Index to Legal Periodicals (ILP), which indexes articles from thousands of legal periodicals (beginning as early as 1908, depending on the periodical) and indexes law books (since 1993). 
  4. LegalTrac indexes over 800 legal periodicals by subject or keyword. Coverage begins around 1980 for most journals. Bar journals and periodicals are covered more heavily in LegalTrac than in the other indexes and databases. 
  5. If your topic is an international or foreign legal topic, check Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals. This database indexes articles from more than 450 legal periodicals from 1985 to the present and covers international law (public and private), comparative law, and municipal law of countries other than the United States. 
  6. If your topic is likely to also be addressed in non-legal journals, check databases of such journals through the University Libraries Database Page. Examples of databases likely to contain law-related articles include Social Science Citation Index and JSTOR. Additional interdisciplinary journals can be found in databases like Academic Search Premier and Gale Academic OneFile

Step Two: Search for Working Papers on Your Topic

  1. Legal Scholarship Network (LSN) contains abstracts of working papers or papers recently accepted for publication. LSN is a valuable resource to check whether an article on your topic is likely to be published shortly. From LSN, you can also search the non-law working paper database called Social Science Research Network (SSRN) - use the Advanced Search on SSRN to specify disciplines you'd like to search (including the LSN).
  2. Bepress Legal Repository provides links to the full text of more than a hundred universities’ working papers series.

Step Three: Search for Books on Your Topic

  1. Check the local library catalog at Be sure to check for books found in both the "Law Library" and "All UM Libraries" by selecting from the drop-down menu under Advanced Search.
  2. Other law school and university library catalogs. If your topic is related to a case or issue that is regional in nature, you should search a law school library catalog from that region. Remember that some books are edited compilations of chapters on varying but related legal topics. If such a book is related to your topic, it will be necessary to consult the table of contents to be sure that no individual chapter will preempt your topic. You can easily search across global libraries with Worldcat.

Step Four: Conform Your Preemption Check to the Guidelines of Your Individual Law Review

Be sure to document each step of your preemption check in accordance to the guidelines and requirements of your individual law review. If you have questions about those guidelines or requirements, please consult with your editors. If you have any questions about conducting the preemption check or using any of the resources described in this guide, feel free to consult with a reference librarian. Good luck!