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Legal Writing: Avoiding Plagiarism


Choosing a Paper Topic
     In Introduction
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Conducting a Preemption Check
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     Legal Indexes
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     Multidisciplinary Journal Content
     Working Paper Repositories

Avoiding Plagiarism
     Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
     Best Practices for Avoiding Plagiarism
     Resources for More Information

Legal Citation
    What is the Bluebook?
    Understanding Bluebook Citations
    Law Reviews and Journals

Publishing Your Writing
    Expert Advice
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    ASU Law Journals


Honesty is the foundation of academic integrity. Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law students are expected to act with integrity in their educational pursuits and refrain from committing acts of academic dishonesty, which includes plagiarism.

The Honor Code of the College of Law defines plagiarism as the following: 

Plagiarism is representing the words or ideas of another as one's own. Quoting or paraphrasing another's writing without acknowledging the author's identity is a form of plagiarism. Ignorance, as to the meaning of plagiarism, is not a defense. Honor Code 3(c)

Below are tips and resources meant to help students conducting legal research and writing projects avoid committing plagiarism. Additional information on academic integrity at ASU can be found on the website of the Office of the University Provost.


  • If you use someone else's idea, you need to credit that person for that idea.  For example, if you take a position in a paper based on a particular author's idea, you must give that author recognition for the idea.  It was not your idea.
  • Do not cite sources you didn't use.
  • When conducting online research, write down the URL, and the date and time you retrieved the information online.  You will need this information to properly cite your source.
  • When researching, put quotes around phrases you write in your research log to denote a direct quotation.  Again, write the citation for where you found the quote.  Mark your own ideas by some method such as using your initials to differentiate your ideas from those of others.  Some people use different ink colors or highlighters to differentiate between sources.
  • Understand and process the information you gathered through research so you can intelligently and honestly draft your memo, paper, or article in your own words.



The Little Book of Plagiarism (Richard A. Posner, 2007)
This (literally) small book explores the big picture of plagiarism, addressing such questions as: What is plagiarism?; How has the meaning of the term changed over time?; Is the practice on the rise or just more easily detectable with technology?; What are the motives of plagiarists?; and What forms of punishment are appropriate for plagiarism?

Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, Seminar Papers and Getting on Law Review (Eugene Volokh, 2016)
Academic Legal Writing is focused on law student authors. It provides detailed instructions for every aspect of the law school writing, research, and publication process.

Plagiarism, Copyright Violation, and Other Thefts of Intellectual Property: An Annotated Bibliography with a Lengthy Introduction (Judy Anderson, 1998)
This title is an annotated bibliography to over 600 articles that address the topics of plagiarism and the theft of intellectual property in general.

The Oxford Handbook of Language and Law (Peter M. Tiersma and Lawrence M. Solan, 2012)
The Oxford Handbook of Language and the Law provides insight in to the interface between linguistics and law. It outlines the range of legal areas in which linguistics plays an increasing role and describes the tools and approaches used by linguists and lawyers in this field.

Tutorials and Exercises
ASU Library: Plagiarism Awareness Tutorial
This tutorial from the ASU Library provides strategies for avoiding plagiarism. 

CALI: Plagiarism in an Online World - Staying Out of Trouble
This lesson explains what constitutes plagiarism, distinguishes between copyright and plagiarism, and offers opportunities for students to test their understanding of plagiarism.

CALI: Citation Form for Briefs and Legal Memoranda
This exercise is to help users learn the rules of proper citation form for briefs and legal memoranda.