When federal circuit courts are divided in their opinions an issue may be “ripe” for review and taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. This also means the issue might be a great subject for legal research or publication. Until fairly recently, if you wanted to track splits of opinion in the federal circuit courts you had to search through a case law database, often repeatedly, using terms an connectors to tailor your specific search. A good “how-to” of this process is available here.
Blogs that track these circuit splits have simplified that process and sometimes provide a wealth of other legal information as well. CircuitSplits.com, by Nicholas J. Wagoner, an associate with the Houston law firm Rogers, Morris & Grover, provides timely reporting and analysis of circuit splits together with information on a host of other relevant legal topics, including the search tips for finding splits mentioned above, an explanation of why circuit splits matter, and a in depth-look at “common parenthetical pitfalls”.
Another valuable resource is the University of San Francisco research guide, Finding a Topic for Your Law School Paper or Law Review Comment/Note. This guide has a page devoted to the topic of circuit splits providing links to the blogs and hints for database searching. A. Benjamin Spencer, a professor at Washington & Lee University School of Law, also posts split information at Split Circuits.