Final Term Paper (Business Law)

The Outline

To be eligible, a student must first submit an outline by Thurs., Sept. 17. That outline must be approximately 150 to 250 words long, with an indication of at least three sources (e.g., Internet sites, books, court cases, newspaper stories) you have found and may use. The outline is not graded, but we usually acknowledge its receipt and often also write to the submitting student with advice on how to approach his/her paper and/or with a request that he/she revise his/her outline.

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There will be no extension of the Thurs., Sept. 17 date for turning in an outline and reserving a spot.

Also, the permission to write a term paper that arises from timely submission of an outline only extends to a paper that at least resembles the outline. You can certainly change the emphasis of a paper, as long as it relates to the outline’s scope. However, if you decide to change the topic dramatically (e.g., to an entirely different topic), you must email to me explaining what you wish to do and seek permission by sending a new outline. Such an action will NOT extend the deadline for turning in a term paper. And such a request (an email) must be emailed to me NO LATER than ten days before the paper is due. If in doubt about these matters, email me.

One approach (BUT NOT THE ONLY APPROACH) is to write a paper arising from, relating to, delving deeper into, or otherwise concerning a real case or actual example discussed in the LSB text, in the Barron’s book, or in one or more of the class-related YouTube videos. Generally, it would be much better to choose a case or example that was not discussed at great length (e.g., for more than one or two paragraphs), because that gives more opportunity for you to do your own research and develop your own insights. This is not the only approach. Generally, any law topic that is business related (very broadly defined) is acceptable. Do not write about abortion, about any subject that is more pertinent to another course than to a law course, about a matter where you are focusing on a case or an event from earlier than 2010, or about a criminal law matter not related to business.

An outline for the term paper is turned in via the Assignments of the course website.
We will review outlines and get back to you. If there is a problem, you will have time to resubmit a revised outline. The most common problems are that the topic is too broad or that there are insufficient sources.
In the papers themselves, a common failing, among other things, is the absence of sources for various statements which are not yours (that you got from somewhere but have not cited). Put in footnotes one or more sources for every statement that you make which should require documentation (that is not simply your own thought).
It is okay for an outline to be bullet pointed and not set up like a rough draft (as in the examples on Canvas). But the bullet points need to say something, not just be headings. Therefore, the better approach is usually just to submit a paragraph or two (as much as a page) stating what you intend to do and including some sources.

The Paper

The completed paper should be from 2,200 to 2,800 words, with that total not counting the citations, the footnoted materials, or any bibliography or title page. While writing more than 2,800 words will NOT lead to a penalty (you won’t be rewarded either!), writing less than 2,200 words likely will be penalized.[1]

The paper, assuming that you have completed an outline on time (on or before Thurs., Sept. 17), is due Thurs., Oct. 29.

The rubric used includes these assessments of your work, which are stated here just as a reminder of things to consider (not overlook) while writing your paper, not as a guarantee of any particular point total.[2]

A well-stated thesis – understandable? What is the author (the student) trying to do? 5 pts.
Analysis of Topic – 40 pts.
Clarity of Paper – 10 pts.
Strong Conclusion? (Has the author attempted to prove anything? IF so, given the brevity of the paper, has he/she been successful) – 10 pts.
Writing, Spelling, Punctuation – 20 pts.
You will receive fewer points on your paper for grammatical mistakes, especially ones that I specifically advise against.
Sources – Quality and Number (the author should cite at least nine different sources, unless there is an understandable reason – the sources should be of different types, and most should be recent in origin whenever practical and appropriate for the paper) – 15 pts.

Again, the most important thing is to write a very good paper that is your work. But the above standards may give you some idea of what you should do.

Here are three LINKS to the Course Website:


Some Writing Tips –

Documenting Legal Research –


Library Resources –

The Grading of the Paper
As stated above, the outline is not graded. Only the term paper is graded.
My expectation is that most persons undertaking this assignment will do a good or very good job, and I will give out most grades in the low-B to mid-A range. The emphasis in grading will be on the research and the substance of the paper. However, poor grammar, bad spelling, incoherent sentences, and other problems of “style” will lead to a lower grade. Furthermore, reliance on only a few sources (inadequate citation of sources) will lead to a lower score.Ordinarily, a paper should have at least nine different sources. (In rare instances, that may be unfeasible; ask ahead of time if you are concerned.)

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